Coke bottle prototype auctions for $240K

A 1915 pencil sketch by Earl R. Dean of the original Coca-Cola bottle and its protoype. Julien's Auctions

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - The prototype for Coca-Cola's iconic curvy bottle, produced 86 years ago, was sold at auction Saturday for $240,000.

Brad Dean, the grandson of the bottle's designer Earl R. Dean, said the bottle is one of two in existence.

The other bottle is owned by the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co.

The contour Coca-Cola prototype bottle was designed by Dean 96 years ago. His original concept drawing was also sold, for $228,000.

At a time when most beverages were packaged in generic, straight-sided bottles, bottlers worried that Coca-Cola was easily confused with imitators. Coca-Cola's co-founder Benjamin Thomas said, "We need a bottle which a person can recognize as a Coca-Cola bottle when he feels it in the dark."

In response, the company launched a competition in 1915 to come up with a distinctive design. Dean's design won.

However, the original prototype never went into production - its middle diameter, being larger than its base, made it unstable on conveyor belts. Dean adjusted the design, and it became the first bottle granted trademark status by the United States Patent Office.

The auction was held Saturday at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills.

According to the auction house, the vertical grooves of the cacao pod - spotted by Dean while researching the ingredients of Coke - were the inspiration for the bottle's curvy, grooved sides.

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