CUMMING, Ga. – Oscar Segovia and his wife, Charlotte, are serious about their Coca-Cola collection.
When guests are welcomed into their home in Cumming, the reaction is usually:
“Wow,” said Charlotte Segovia.
The couple’s upstairs houses a massive 1912 soda pop bar, complete with antique soda dispenser and cash register. Their basement has four rooms, including another soda fountain bar, that is neatly organized from top to bottom with nearly 400 Coca-Cola memorabilia collectibles – signs, thermometers, ice boxes. In addition, the couple collects slot machines, barbershop chairs, pinball machines and soda fountains.
“We collect soda fountains because that’s where Coca-Cola was first sold, in soda fountains,” Oscar Segovia said.
One of their most prized possessions is a 1907 baseball score keeper that was used in the turn of the century. The item’s Coca-Cola slogan back then was: “Relieves Fatigue” – a nod to the original use of the product first bottled 125 years ago in 1886.
“It’s a work of art is what it is,” Segovia said. “They are beautiful pieces. I love the antique advertising.”
This weekend – Sept. 17 and 18 – the couple is making their way to Elizabethtown, Ky., to take part in an auction for the biggest privately held Coca-Cola collection in the world.
About 80,000 items belonging to private collectors Bill and Jan Schmidt worth as much as $10 million will be put up for auction, and the Segovias will be there. The biggest memorabilia collection in the world is at the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta.
“This is the biggest collector’s buzz right now,” Segovia said. “We will have a chance to see and buy some of the largest private collection items made available.”
Oscar Segovia, 52, is also a historian of the product. He understands, is passionate and spends about eight hours a week researching and answering inquiries from collectors worldwide.
“Coca-Cola is a part of every person’s life,” Segovia said.
The couple has been collecting Coca-Cola products for about 25 years.
Oscar Segovia is a member of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club International, a member of the local chapter and is the eastern representative of the Coca-Cola National Club, which meets four times a year and has about 4,000 members.
The couple moved to Georgia five years ago, primarily to be close to the Atlanta Coca-Cola headquarters.
“Someday, when we start selling off the collection, this is a good place to sell it, because there are a lot of members here,” Segovia said.
The local chapter, which meets monthly in Smyrna, Ga., is the largest in the country. There are 40 chapters nationally.
In the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola Company, Segovia, who works in the beverage industry, but not for Coca-Cola, warns other newbie collectors and seasoned pros about the rampant fraud of the product.
He says television shows that highlight antique collectibles are often misinforming consumers.
“Not every antique dealer is a professional appraisal of everything that is out there,” he said.
“Those shows on TV highlight and publicize things that look really good, but don’t get out real information.”
Segovia recommends those interested in beginning a collection to reach out to groups and clubs.
An example is a recent Coca-Cola member who bought an item at a popular auction website for $5.
“He had bought a reproduction item that was being presented as an original,” Segovia said. “Not everything is what they say it is, there’s a lot of fraudulent stuff out there.”
If you have a Coca-Cola related question, contact Oscar Segovia at email@example.com.