Coca Cola rare bottle prototype and concept drawing could fizz at auction


Julien's Icons & Idols Auction Live event kicks off on December 3, featuring a cultural icon which is known around the world. This rare 1915 prototype contour shaped Coca Cola bottle has already reached $70,000 via online bids prior to the sale.

And it is expected that the bottle and sketch, conceived by designer Earl R Dean 96 years ago, could bring a new record price.


Coca Cola's bottle is today still
regarded as one of the most rec-
ognised packages in the world

Dean's sketch concept was to design a Coca Cola bottle so recognisable that it would stand out amidst a drinks market then overrun with generic bottle designs. His brief included, as quoted by Julien's, "that a person could recognise [the bottle] if broken, and even if felt in the dark."

Coca Cola's bottle is today one of the most recognised packages in the world. It is also one of the few packages ever to be granted trademark status by the US Patent Office.

While looking for inspiration for his design, so the story goes, Dean visited the local library to search for images of the coca plant and kola nut - these were the two key ingredients he believed to be in Coca-Cola.

He found little information to inspire him, but instead stumbled upon an image of a cacao pod. This would become the inspiration behind his contour shaped bottle... that and a looming deadline to submit his concept to Coca-Cola.

In the end Dean's new bottle design was chosen. Out of the dozen or so prototypes he made, all but two were destroyed. From a historical perspective, this "prototype" was the very first of its kind.

What makes this sale even more remarkable is that the Coca-Cola Company, which owns the other only known example, considers its prototype bottle to be "priceless" and claimed it as its most prized archival piece.

Dean's sketch concept for Coca Cola's original bottle, dated to 1915

According to Dean's grandson, he sketched both the front and back-side view of the bottle, but only one side of the bottle was needed for its patent. At the patent office, the attorney cut the paper in half, taking with him only the back-side view.

It's believed that the other half of the drawing no longer exists. 

This prototype never reached full production. Its middle diameter was larger than its base, making it unstable on conveyor belts. Dean made the necessary alterations - and the rest is history.

We'll keep you posted on further news from Julien's December 3 sale.

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