Coke to Auction Off Vintage Rockwell Prints

Original oil paintings by American artist Norman Rockwell, commissioned by Coca-Cola in the 1930s, were reproduced for window displays in drugstores where Coke was sold and on calendars as part of promotional giveaways from bottlers.

Starting April 27, the company will again offer these reproductions to the public. This time they will be auctioned for charity on eBay, with the proceeds going to the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, which supports arts organizations in the greater Atlanta area.

“There are Coke collectors around the world, and offering these pieces on eBay makes them available globally,” said Melinda Massey, project manager at Coke’s Atlanta headquarters. “It’s another way for people to connect to the classic quality of a Norman Rockwell image and with Coke Classic.”

The auction begins just five days after Coke launched a new global ad campaign that is an attempt to convey life’s simple pleasures and how the soft drink enhances them. (See story on p. 5.)

Massey said 1,000 sets of four images of Rockwell’s signed Coke art, reproduced as eight-color lithographs, will be auctioned through May 4. The vertical prints are 28 inches high and 19 inches wide, and will be touted on eBay’s front-page “Spotlight’s On” section. No starting price has yet been determined, she said.

Each image portrays a slice of Americana. The first, “The Barefoot Boy,” from 1931, depicts a rosy-cheeked boy leaning against a tree, a Coke in his right hand.

In 1932, Rockwell painted “The Old Oaken Bucket,” which shows a smiling boy sitting on the side of a stone well from which he has apparently pulled a bucket of Coke bottles.

“Carry Me Back to Old Virginny,” from 1934, depicts an elderly father and his adult daughter on a porch. She is perched on the steps playing a mandolin, a bottle of Coke at her feet.

“Out Fishin’,” from 1935, shows a boy sitting on a tree stump with a fishing pole and a bottle of Coke.

The new reproductions will not carry the Coca-Cola logo, Massey said.

Other artists who painted works for Coke during that era include N.C. Wyeth and Haddon Sundblom.