Western Coca Cola Bottling Plates
WESTERN COCA-COLA BOTTLING CO. PLATES
This series of plates was not produced or distributed by The Coca-Cola Co, but rather, were a part of an advertising campaign by the Chicago based distributor, Western Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
Beginning in 1907, the Western Coca-Cola Bottling Co. contracted with H. D. Beach Co. for standard Beach plate designs bearing a special Vienna Art Plate – Western Coca-Cola Bottling Co. mark on the back. The Hazelcorn book references identifying eight plates with this matk. To date, nine plates have been identified. There are no differences in the portraits, the borders or the plate designs other than the special logo on the backs of these plates. They were apparently distributed by Western from 1907 to approximately 1909. No information has been found to indicate whether the plates were other than a pure give-away item or if all of the plates were made available at the same times or they were made and available in some order or sequence.
In addition to the above plates identified by Hazelcorn, the following plate has also been found having the Beach – Western Coca-Cola mark.
Believed to have been produced in 1905 is the 12″ diameter plaque shown below. There is no makers markings however is is marked “Western Coca Cola Bottling Co. Chicago, Ill” in the lower portion of the green border below “is better”. The only difference in the portrait of this plaque and Portrait 14 is that in the plaque, she is holding a bottle of Coca Cola.
WESTERN COCA-COLA BOTTLING CO.
Western Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Chicago was owned by J. T. Lupton and was formed in 1905 after a split from another bottler. In the beginning of 1907, S. L. Whitten, the manager of Western, wrote to Asa Chandler of Coca-Cola stating that they did not make money last year but that they are “working along lines somewhat differing from our work of last year.” That “somewhat differing” approach turned out to be, to the chagrin of Chandler, the use of some then overtly sexual advertising. Apparently, as a part of that “differing” advertising campaign in 1907 that Western contracted with H. D Beach for the production of the standard Beach plate designs bearing a special Vienna Art Plate – Western Coca-Cola Bottling Co. mark on the back.
In 1886, an Atlanta, Georgia pharmacist named John Pemberton created the Coca-Cola syrup which he took a few doors down to Jacob’s Pharmacy and mixed that syrup with carbonated water to create a drink. That drink was a hit with patrons and Jacobs began selling it for five cents a glass. Pemberton’s bookkeeper named the drink Coca-Cola. In that first year, Pemberton had average sales of nine glasses per day.
Over the course of 1888-1891, Atlanta businessman Asa G. Chandler secured the rights to the product for a total of about $2,300 and became president of the new Coca-Cola company. Chandler, a natural born salesman, outfitted distributing pharmacists with clocks, urns, signs, calendars and other items all bearing the Coca-Cola name. People saw the Coca-Cola name everywhere and by 1895, Chandler had built syrup production plants in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
In 1894, a Mississippi businessman named Joseph Biedenharm, became the first to put Coca-Cola in a bottle and submitted the idea to Chandler who was completely unenthusiastic about the idea. In 1899, Chandler, believing that the real profits were in the manufacture and sale of the syrup, sold the exclusive rights to bottle and sell the beverage to two Chattanooga lawyers, Benjamin F. Thomas and Joseph B. Whitehead … for the sum of one dollar. In 1900, there were two bottlers of Coca-Cola; by 1920, there were about 1,000 bottlers.
(During the Great Depression of the 1930s, many independent bottlers failed and Coca-Cola acquired some of those operations in order to continue to promote and sell their product. Over the years, Coca-Cola has acquired many of the independent bottling companies and today, throughout the U.S. and many developed countries, they control virtually all of the production and distribution of Coca-Cola and its other brands from syrup production to the retail shelves)