Cool off at Morphy's refreshing June 7-8 Soda Pop & Antique Advertising Auction in Las Vegas

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Friday, June 14, 2024

Cool off at Morphy's refreshing June 7-8 Soda Pop & Antique Advertising Auction in Las Vegas
Incredible and early Hires Root Beer set consisting of ceramic dispenser, platter and three mugs, all with imagery of ‘Ugly Kid’ brand mascot. Made by Villeroy & Boch (Germany). Possibly the only set of its type in existence and arguably the ultimate root beer collectible. Estimate: $40,000-$80,000.

LAS VEGAS, NEV.- Soda fountain memorabilia is pure American nostalgia, harkening back to a time when the local soda shop or drug store was the place where everyone went to socialize over light refreshment. Beverage brands were fiercely competitive marketers, providing lavish ceramic syrup dispensers and vibrantly colorful advertising signage to establishments where their products were sold. Those promotional items are now the objects of their own competition, at high-profile soda pop and antique advertising auctions like the one Morphy’s will conduct on June 7-8 in Las Vegas.

The 1,329-lot sale includes not only beverage-related items but also signage, display items and fountain accessories for various ice cream brands. In addition, there are advertising clocks, radios, a Seeburg jukebox, vending machines, seltzer bottles and more.

The top-estimated lot is a Hires Root Beer set described by Morphy’s advertising specialist Dan Morris as “perhaps the pinnacle of Hires Root Beer advertising items.” The set consists of a ceramic dispenser, platter and three mugs, all adorned with images of the brand’s mascot known as the “Ugly Kid.” Made by the esteemed German ceramics firm Villeroy & Boch, it is quite possibly the only set of its type in existence and comes to auction with expectations of reaching $40,000-$80,000.

Another coveted Hires piece is the rare and stunning double-sided cardboard string hanger sign emblazoned with the slogan “Hires – The Only Relief For A Thirsty World.” It is designed as a circular replica of the world with anthropomorphic features drinking from a mug of root beer held by the “Ugly Kid.” A storied piece of Hires Root Beer history, the heavy paper “fan-pull” sign has eluded collectors for years. Clean and exhibiting only the smallest amount of wear, it is offered with a $3,000-$10,000 estimate.

An important and all-but-impossible sign to find is the early, single-sided embossed-tin Hires sign with the message “Hurrah! For Hires Rootbeer!” with the image of the “Ugly Kid.” Exhibiting strong condition overall and possibly the one and only example of its type to have lasted over the past 110+ years, the 20- by 28-inch sign could make $3,000-$6,000 on auction day.

It wouldn’t be a soda pop sale without a major representation of the king of soft drinks, Coca-Cola. Morphy’s will offer collectors some outside-the-box choices, like an incredible 1960s Coca-Cola Roll-O-Vend mobile sales trailer whose top collapses for easy towing behind most vehicles. Inside, the trailer is fitted with a sink, original Coca-Cola icemaker, syrup taps and storage space. For an added touch of realism, the trailer comes with a display mannequin that wears vintage Coca-Cola apparel. Dan Morris observed that the trailer has been “meticulously restored and could easily be used to sell beverages and snacks.” Estimate: $15,000-$25,000

Made circa-1896 by the Wheeling Pottery Co. (W. Va.), a Coca-Cola ceramic syrup dispenser is particularly bright, white and clean, showing none of the brown staining that is sometimes seen on semi-porous dispensers of its age. “Also, this dispenser’s style is the first that Coca-Cola ever used. For several reasons, Coke collectors are going to want this piece for their collections. It does not disappoint,” Morris said. Estimate: $8,000-$16,000

A duo of early porcelain signs salvaged from the front of a store in Baltimore were made around 1915 by the Baltimore Enamel & Novelty Company. One of the signs says “Drink Coca-Cola,” while the other simply states: “Prescriptions.” Each of the framed companion signs measures 32½ by 18 inches and is graded 8.5. The lot estimate is $5,000-$10,000.

Two non-Coca-Cola syrup dispensers that highlight the sale would easily qualify as artworks. The first is a beautiful turn-of-the-20th-century dispenser made by American Soda Fountain Co., Philadelphia, with an illuminating leaded-glass flower finial, double-tap draft stand and six original glass fountain flavor dispensers. Ornate and truly the cream of the crop, it is offered with an $8,000-$16,000 estimate.

The second of the two is an extremely rare circa-1920s ceramic Fan-Taz syrup dispenser replicating a large stitched baseball. It is complete with its original spigot/pump and is adorned with bat and ball graphics. “We expect this dispenser to attract crossover interest from sports and Americana collectors,” Morris noted. The estimate is set at $4,000-$8,000.

Even advanced soda-pop advertising collectors might still be waiting for the chance to acquire a double-sided tin 7Up “elbow flange” sign. Made in the 1950s, this rare sign features the 7Up bottle graphic and the message “We Proudly Serve 7Up.” It has everything a discerning collector of antique advertising desires in a sign: color, rarity and visual appeal. When high condition is factored in, it becomes a “must have” item. The example to be auctioned by Morphy’s has sides graded at a high 8.0 and 8.75, respectively. Its pre-sale estimate is $6,000-$12,000.

Orange Crush is another brand that has its own loyal following. For those collectors, Morphy’s suggests a circa-1940s Orange Crush single-sided embossed tin sign with the brand’s iconic “Crushy” mascot and the message “Feel Fresh! Drink Orange Crush Carbonated Beverage.” Crushy served as the Orange Crush mascot from the 1920s through 1940s. He appeared on signs and bottle labels, sometimes riding a scooter or squeezing an orange. The glossy, colorful sign offered by Morphy’s is graded a strong condition: 8.9+ and has been TAC authenticated. Estimate: $3,000-$6,000

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