During our 18 years spent as collectibles dealers in New York City, we were amazed at what people collected. We found advertising items to be very popular.
The primary era sought after was pre-World War II or Depression times. Top priority and much higher priced artifacts were pre-World War I, 1917.
We must recall there was no television and very limited radio, therefore a producer of products had to use various media to communicate “hands on” to “buy me.”
One of the greatest promoters of their product during both of those eras was Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola went to great expense to promote their drink with serving trays, tip trays, calendars, posters, cardboard and tin signs, along with other disposables like menus and napkins.
All of the above are very collectible and command high prices if in good condition.
The company also used beautiful ladies to attract attention. Rare early posters can bring five figures at shows and auctions. Small tip trays can fetch as high as $2,000 in good condition.
Equitable Life Insurance also would go to great lengths to produce a favorite giveaway; calendars were a daily reminder of a product.
Insurance companies often commissioned popular artists to create attractive children. One such artist was Maude Humphrey, whose beautiful son became one of her favorite models. That son grew up to become the celebrated actor Humphrey Bogart.
These early 1900s calendars, if still intact, are valued at an excess of $750. Often purchasers frame their favorite image.
Upon examining the list of possible items that carried a message, you might just discover you have several in that old trunk or dresser drawer. Take a look; eBay awaits your discoveries.
Jerry Glenn is co-owner of Reminisce in Bluffton, where sports collectibles are bought and sold.