Published: May 23, 2016
DENVER, PENN. — The Robert Newman collection of advertising, the bulk of it devoted to the American love affair with all things Coca-Cola, slaked collectors’ thirst for soda and advertising on May 21-22 at Morphy Auctions. The firm’s sale of investment-quality antique soda and tobacco advertising and ephemera was led by an original oil painting featuring radio stars Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy checking out a cooler full of Coca-Cola from 1949. This artwork was used in numerous company advertisements and also prominently featured on the back cover of an issue of National Geographic in 1950, attributed to Haddon Sundblum. The artwork opened at $18,000 and shot to a final price of $52,800, including premium, on an absentee bid. Collector Bob Newman told Antiques and the Arts Weekly, “In 1951, when this was used on the back page of National Geographic, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy was the number one radio program in America. Hard to believe a guy with a dummy — when you couldn’t even see it — was the number one radio show for 15 years.”
Another piece of original artwork that served as the basis for a large horizontal Coke poster from the 1930s: “A happy thought — refresh yourself,” was used in 1927 magazine ads. The unsigned work, although clearly done by an accomplished artist, was bid to $49,200 against a $25/35,000 estimate.
And a 1930s-era sterling silver Coca-Cola display bottle made especially for a company executive who supervised the construction of the ocean-liner inspired Coca-Cola bottling plant in Los Angeles was a one-of-a-kind, never-before-seen piece. It left the gallery at $34,800.
Said Dan Morphy, president of Morphy Auctions, “We were thrilled to present this first of two auctions featuring the Robert Newman collection of extraordinary antique beverage and tobacco advertising, 45 years in the making. Bob is known for his fantastic eye and his ability to find examples in ‘investment-quality’ condition.”
Watch for a complete review of this sale in an upcoming issue.
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