Probably the biggest and best private collection of Coca-Cola Memorabilia will be sold in a series of auctions starting as soon as mid-September. More than 80,000 items, which is estimated to be worth as much as $10 million are the property of the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia in Elizabethtown. The owners, Jan and Bill Schmidt decided it is time for a change and plans to use the proceeds from sales to fund a family foundation.
The collection includes one-of-a-kind posters, rare serving trays, unique bottles, jewelry, lighted signs and antique delivery trucks. The collection even includes the side of a barn. The collection dates back to the 1800s.
Jan and Bill started the collection in 1972 when they went to an auction and came home with items that spawned a lifetime of acquisition. The couple were bottlers of Coca-Cola at the time and were searching for a few pieces of Coca-Cola memorabilia to decorate office spaces. The Schmidt Museum Collection of Coca-Cola Memorabilia opened to the public in March of 1977. In November 1999, after 25 years and almost a million visitors from around the world, the museum closed for about a year due to changes in state regulations. It reopened for several years at the Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Center. In the fall of 2005, the Schmidt Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia moved to a current space.
We didn’t set out to accumulate the world’s largest (privately owned) collection, Jan said. All we wanted to do was tell a story and put it on display. The collection has become inert. And the way to keep it alive is to pass it on — to give others the opportunity to own and showcase the items they want.
The collection will be sold over several years, through online sales and during auctions at the 32,000-square-foot museum.