5:01pm

Tue March 20, 2012
Kentucky Arts and Culture

Coca-Cola Memorabilia Auction

Some 700 pieces of Coca-Cola memorabilia will be auctioned this weekend in Elizabethtown. The items are part of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia, which closed last year. The Schmidt family was among the first in the country to bottle the soft drink, opening a plant in 1901. Coca-Cola memorabilia expert Gary Metz estimates the auction of signs, rare posters, antique serving trays and other items could fetch more than $2 million.

“It’s probably the most impressive array of Coca-Cola items, when you couple this auction with the one we had last September, to ever hit the market at one time,” Metz said.

Larry Schmidt says his family decided to close the museum following the death of his father, who had long overseen the collection. He says there was also little space to display many of the 80,000 items he had collected since the 1970s.

“It was just becoming almost a travesty to have these things squirreled away where nobody could see them or enjoy them and we through it would be a good time to make these items available back to the collecting community,” he said.

Proceeds from the sale will go to a charitable foundation established by the family.

The museum will hold preview days tomorrow through Friday with the auction on Saturday and Sunday.

(Photos of 1898 tin sign, top, and 1941 tin sign courtesy of Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia)