Morphy’s Serves Up Rare Soda Fountain, Soda Pop and Other Antique Advertising

August 17, 2022  19:26  |  News

Just as nightclubs are today’s social hubs, there was a time, more than a century ago, when the local soda fountain or soda shop was where people went for a light meal or wholesome refreshment in a cordial environment. Sometimes a soda fountain – named for the actual device that dispensed carbonated beverages – was found within a larger establishment, such as a drugstore or candy store. Soda fountain memorabilia is pure American nostalgia, and collectors revel in the opportunity to purchase such treasures from a source as esteemed as the Sharyn and Terry Brown collection, which highlights Morphy’s August 23-25 auction series.

Morphy's Serves Up Rare Soda Fountain, Soda Pop and Other Antique Advertising

19th-century soda fountain front and backbar with lighted front fountain and Charles Lippincott 10-position marble soda dispenser; originally in a Helena, Arkansas café that opened in 1888. Size: 161¼in long by 130in high. Estimate $60,000-$100,000. Photos – Morphy Auctions ©

The Brown collection will be offered during the August 23-24 Soda Pop & Soda Fountain Advertising session, which is followed by General Advertising on August 25. The auction will begin each day at 9 am, with all forms of bidding available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live.

The star of the show, and a prize that any collector would covet for their own home soda shop, is a stunning 19th-century soda fountain front and back bar with a lighted, stained-glass front fountain and a Charles Lippincott 10-position marble soda dispenser. Its origins can be traced to a Helena, Arkansas café that opened for business in 1888.  It comes to auction with six bent-wire stools, as well as historical photos and a newspaper clipping as provenance. The pre-sale estimate for this grand soda fountain suite is $60,000-$100,000.

If any trade sign could be described as “eye candy,” it’s the Illuminating cast-aluminium and glass example designed as an ice cream soda, complete with “foam” and a long-handled spoon. Made by Beacon Mfg & Sales Co., New York, NY, it measures 33 by 24 by 8 inches and is emblazoned “SODA.” In beautiful original condition, graded 8.5, this advertising gem could hit the sweet spot at $15,000-$30,000.

More than 325 lots in the Tuesday/Wednesday sessions are devoted to the world’s most loved soda brand: Coca-Cola. There are signs and advertisements; china and Vienna plates; a broad selection of clocks and calendars; syrup bottles, window displays, festoons, scores of serving and tip trays; coolers, radios, and much more.

Morphy's Serves Up Rare Soda Fountain, Soda Pop and Other Antique Advertising

Antique reverse-on-glass Owl Cigar Store sign, possibly one of a kind. Size: 80 x 30¼in. Estimate $30,000-$60,000.

Variety, rarity and condition are the words best describing the August 25 General Advertising session. The most appealing antique signs of the 19th and early 20th centuries were those that advertised alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and firearms/ammunition. Morphy’s selection is led by a reverse-on-glass Owl Cigar Store sign that is possibly one of a kind. This very early and important piece is centred with the image of a stern, beady-eyed owl perched on a branch. Its bronze and gold hues stand out vividly against a jet-black background. Measuring 80 by 30¼ inches, this investment-grade sign could fly off to a new owner for $30,000-$60,000.

One of the finest beer signs in the sale is an elegantly framed, rounded glass example advertising “AMERICAN BEER POCATELLO, IDA.” Its central image powerfully depicts Lady Liberty holding a torch and standing on top of the world, and it is stamped “DAWES MFG. CO PITTSBURG PA.” In excellent condition, it measures 26½ inches in diameter and comes to auction with a $5,000-$10,000 estimate.


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