The empty container is over 100 years old and features the brand's now-iconic curvy silhouette.

By Mike Pomranz
April 01, 2019

Collecting old soda bottles might not sound as prestigious as collecting rare whiskey or fine wine — and frankly, it’ll probably never be as valuable — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any money whatsoever to be made in the non-alcoholic bottle game: A likely one-of-a-kind Coca-Cola bottle is expected to sell at auction later this month for as much as $150,000.

The bottle, which is currently up for bid on the site Morphy Auctions, features a 700-word description that beats out the length of most obituaries. (Not to say that your life is any less exciting than the history of a Coca-Cola bottle.) “This is the only known bottle of its type that has surfaced completely intact,” explains the auction house. “Advanced bottle collectors we have consulted consider it to be extremely rare and important.”

Photo courtesy of Morphy Auctions, www.morphyauctions.com
Photo courtesy of Morphy Auctions, www.morphyauctions.com

So what’s so important about an empty bottle? According to Morphy, in 1915, Coca-Cola devised a plan to come up with an iconic bottle design fitting its brand. Eight different glass houses submitted prototypes, but a design from Earl R. Dean at the Root Glass Company won out. However, Cola-Cola realized “alterations would have to be made on the lower and middle diameters of the bottle in order to make it more practical and so it would fit in the modern bottling machinery.” As a result, this particular bottle, billed as a “Coca-Cola Root Glass Co. Modified Prototype Bottle,” appears to be one of the altered prototypes that were considered between the initial selection of the Dean’s design and “the familiar design known to collectors and consumers today.”

Photo courtesy of Morphy Auctions, www.morphyauctions.com

As such, bottle expert Bill Porter told Morphy that this auction features a “missing link” in the history of Coca-Cola’s bottle design. Part of what makes it so rare is that Coca-Cola ordered all the bottles produced as part of this confidential testing to be destroyed, and the vast majority of them were. “It is therefore believed that this Atlanta bottle is the only known example or model of the 1915 test bottle,” the auction house states. Meanwhile, only two versions of the prototype before this one are known to exist, with one selling at auction in 2011 for $240,000.

Photo courtesy of Morphy Auctions, www.morphyauctions.com

This bottle, which was “recently discovered a few days after obtaining and sorting through a Coca-Cola collection acquired from a retired Coca-Cola employee who worked for Chapman Root,” is said to be in “as close to pristine as one could envision, with no chips, cracks, nor case wear.” Morphy estimates it will sell for between $100,000 and $150,000. It currently has one bid, a $50,000 minimum bid, with bidding set to close in just under two weeks.

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