1909View in Gallery
This is believed to be the earliest Coca Cola deck and is consistently referred to as first produced in 1909. The deck was apparently produced at the behest of the Western Bottling Company, a very large Coca-Cola bottler located in Chicago. The image is a woman commonly used in other Coca-Cola advertising, known as the Gibson Girl. The artist was B. Lichtman. The slogan is the most-used one at the time. Most of the decks I have seen appear to have been gold-edged, but with well-used decks it would be hard to tell. I believe a very large number of these decks were produced over the years, but they are hard to find now, particularly in good and complete condition. It was a bridge deck, made by the U.S. Playing Card Co., with the Western Bottling Co. name on the ace of spades. I would suspect this deck was produced until the Western Bottling Company introduced its next deck in 1915. This deck and the 1915 deck use a card-size slightly wider than most later decks.
1915View in Gallery
The second known deck, apparently introduced in 1915 and likely also produced for a number of years. This deck has a similar design to the 1909, with a commonly used female image, knows as Elaine, on the box and the Delicious and Refreshing slogan. It also came in plain and gold edging. This deck is somewhat easier to find than the 1909 one and there are at least two sealed decks from this year in existence. Note the inner flap of the box which describes how to obtain additional decks and distinguishes between ones with gold edging and plain edging. I have one deck in a slip cover burgundy box, but I do not know if that was an original version or if someone just stuck the deck in there and pasted a card on front. The slip cover box is from the U.S. Playing Card Co. Note the inner wrapping paper which is of a waxed paper type. I have seen a deck which appeared to have some cellophane wrapping but it is unclear to me that it could be the original wrapping paper, given when cellophane came into common use. The deck was manufactured by the U.S. Playing Card Co. and has the Western Bottling Co. name on the ace of spades as well.
Advertising Association ConventionView in Gallery
This is a very unusual deck from the 1926 Out-door Advertising Association of America convention. It is in a slip-cover box which says compliments of The Coca-Cola Company. The cards inside are not Coke cards. They are gold-leaved, from the U.S. Playing Card Co. and have the kind of waxy cellophane then in use.
1927 - 1928View in Gallery
ALSO KNOWN AS THE BOBBED HAIR GIRL DECK, this set of cards is believed to date from either 1927 or 1928. This is also the first slip cover type deck. A few do not seem to have the phrasing on the back of the box. Coca-Cola’s popularity was by now extremely well-established and the Company was producing thousands of advertisements and advertising items. This image was widely used in the advertising program, and is known as the bob-haired girl. Fred Mizen was the artist. I have seen what I consider to be three color versions of this deck. One is white, which I believe is far and away the rarest. One is red and the other is a kind of yellowish-green. Some people have said there is a yellow and a green version but I think this is just variations in the printing process. All three colors also have an inner border variation of either red or gold. Again, some collectors believe there is an inner border width variation, but it is not clear to me that this was intentional or just another printing artifact.
These decks, with the exception of the white border, are relatively abundant and I have seen many in sealed condition. Note in one of the pictures the Christmas message card from the bottler. I have only seen this from the one bottler, but perhaps others did something similar. These are bridge decks and the dating is based on tax stamps and the bridge card and the ace of spades codes. Also note that there are two different ace of spades and the extra card changed from 8 million sold to 9 million. There are also several variations of the bridge and extra cards. This deck was produced over a long period of time and the aces have multiple dating codes. Two different manufacturers, USPCC and Western PCC, made the deck over this time. Please also note the double-deck pictures; this is an unusual stacked version of a double-deck and I believe these are authentic decks that were intentionally produced in this manner but are very rare. Finally, I have included a photo of a very unusual presentation box containing an unopened double set of these cards. This was apparently given to a Coca-Cola executive and while it is the only one I have seen, others may be in existence.