Q: I have over 800 different Coca-Cola items, yet there is a lot I do not know. I have a yellow plastic-handled pen knife, 3 3/4 inches long, marked "Drink/Coca-Cola/Trademark (R)/in Bottles/5 cents/World Fair/Chicago/1933." I have "Petretti's Coca-Cola Collectibles Price Guide, 8th Edition," by Allan Petretti. On page 384 this knife is pictured, and he says it was made in the 1970s to 1980s and is worth $1 to $2. In a friend's copy of the "Kovels' Antiques and Collectibles Price List, 1993," on page 166 it shows the same knife for $135. My question is, Who is right?
A: Any serious Coke collector will tell you that Allan Petretti knows "The Real Thing" when he sees it or publishes it.
Philip F. Mooney, manager of the archives department, of the Coca-Cola Co. in Atlanta, says: "Petretti's is the finest price guide out there." He advises that "The single piece any Coke collector should have is Allan Petretti's book," because its prices offer good guidelines for collectors and it differentiates fakes from authentic vintage examples.
General price guides, like the Kovels', occasionally are useful, but errors creep in. In this case, the mistake is a potentially costly one for collectors who may have relied on the $135 price listed for a well-known fake Coca-Cola knife, which, regrettably, appears regularly at flea markets.
"At the Chicago World's Fair, all we had was a refreshment booth," says Mr. Mooney of Coca-Cola, adding, "The bottles and glasses used there won't say Chicago World's Fair." Simply put: "Chicago World's Fair [Coke collectibles] all are bogus." He hopes that price-guide authors who imply otherwise "simply were misinformed and made a mistake."
According to Mr. Petretti, collectors who have paid big bucks for this "fantasy" knife probably won't "have a Coke and a smile" when they discover they've been taken. "These knives were created with only one thing in mind, to rip people off," he said. (Mr. Petretti's illustrated price guide costs $34.95 postpaid from the author, c/o Nostalgia Publications, 21 South Lake Drive, Hackensack, N.J. 07601.)
Coca-Cola was first served at an Atlanta pharmacy in 1886, and its worldwide marketing efforts since then have spawned a spate of collectible memorabilia, as well as reproductions and fakes. According to Mr. Mooney, the Coca-Cola Co. wants to know where dealers are getting fraudulent Coke collectibles, since "Coca-Cola takes infringements very seriously." The company has continuing investigations and takes legal action against trademark infringers in appropriate situations. "The only
true defense for collectors is knowledge of the field," Mr. Mooney says.
"The World of Coca-Cola," called the world's largest assemblage of Coke memorabilia, is a permanent exhibition near Coca-Cola's Atlanta headquarters. For information and tickets, call (404) 676-5151.
Q: I have a rather old edition of "Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes, A Collection of Alphabets, Rhymes, Tales & Jingles" with 220 illustrations by Sir John Gilbert, R.A., John Tenniel, Harrison Weir, Walter Crane and others. It's copyrighted 1892. Is it worth much?
A: Though you didn't indicate whether the illustrations in your version of "Mother Goose" rhymes are black-and-white line drawings or full-color lithographs, in either case your book most likely is a reprint and not a valuable first edition, according to antiquarian children's book dealer Helen Younger, of Aleph-Bet Books, 670 Waters Edge, Valley Cottage, N.Y. 10989, (914) 268-7410. First editions illustrated by Gilbert, Tenniel, Weir and Crane all appeared before 1892. The publisher of your volume may merely have compiled several well-known ones for his edition, Ms. Younger surmises. Reprints like yours generally are worth well under $100 each. Condition and illustrations are key ,, factors in determining price.
Recent auction prices
Prices at Block's Box, Marble Extravaganza, P.O. Box 51, Trumbull, Conn. 06611, (203) 261-3223, include any applicable buyer's premium.
* Tom Mix comic marble by the Peltier Glass Co., Ottawa, Ill., 5/8 inch diameter, circa 1930, mint condition, $2,635.
* Box of 63 marbles by Master Marble Co., various sizes, 1933 Chicago World's Fair commemorative, $971.25.
* Hand-made end-of-day four-panel "Joseph's Coat" marble, 11/16 inch diameter, circa 1900, one "hit" mark, $73.50.
* Rare machine-made peach-colored "Guinea" marble by Christensen Agate Co., Cambridge, Ohio, 7/8 inch diameter, circa 1927, near mint condition, two small chips, $2,126.25.
* Hand-made turquoise glass marble with oxblood streaks and mica, 1 7/8 inches diameter, circa 1900, near-mint condition, $3,150.
* Hand-made marble enclosing a painted ram "sulfide" seated on grass, 1 1/4 inch diameter, circa 1900, near mint condition, $1,942.50.
Have a question about an antique or collectible? Write to the Solis-Cohens, P.O. Box 304, Flourtown, Pa. 19031-0304, enclosing a clear photo of the whole object and all marks. Photos can't be returned. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.