The evolution of the frame for Coca-Cola cardboard posters

© 2014 Blaine Martin



No frame at all

Prior to 1940 — cardboard point-of-purchase posters were either tacked directly to the wall or used as stand-up displays in windows, on top of store shelves or at exhibitions. The poster sizes were not yet standardized and many posters came with large easels on the back for standing in a window display on on a shelf in a grocery store.

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A 1940 poster on the wall of a pool hall.

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An excerpt from the Coca-Cola Company's 1940 "Signs Make Sales" advertising guide.


50th anniversary poster in a display at the 1936 Bottlers Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

A 1939 booth at the Better Homes Exhibition in Joplin, Missouri.



The very first frame

By 1940 the size of the cardboard point of purchase posters were beginning to be standardized. An attractive dimensional cardboard frame for the 27x56 inch horizontal versions was developed. Since these frames were used for only a short period of time and in small quantities — few have survived for today's collectors.

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An excerpt from the Coca-Cola Company's 1940 "Signs Make Sales" advertising guide.



Only for soda fountains

Soda fountains utilized a different sized (23x40 inch) cardboard point-of-purchase poster than did the bottle market. The frames were manufactured by Kay Displays of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and are stamped on the back with Property of The Coca-Cola Company and the Kay Displays, Inc. identifier. Apparently  a comparatively small quantity of these frames were produced since they appear in today's marketplace in much lower quantities than the wooden bottle market frames from the same period.

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The frames are marked on the back with this stamp.


A 1949 drug store photograph showing the soda fountain insert frame with a 1945 cardboard.


Props borrowed from a local soda fountain for a 1939 high school play in Vancouver, Washington


A soda fountain theme for a 1939 window display in Dayton, Ohio



Wartime art deco inspiration

These art deco inspired frames with the bottle and leaf medallion have become an icon in the Coca-Cola collector world. Made by Kay Displays, Inc. in Grand Rapids, Michigan,  these frames were first offered around 1941, and then were soon replaced by a more streamlined design in 1947.  They were offered to accommodate four standardized sizes of inserts — 16x27 inch vertical, 20x36 inch horizontal,  29x50 inch vertical and 27x56 inch horizontal. The frames were used in any setting where one would want  point-of-purchase advertising for bottled Coca-Cola, such as a grocery store, pool hall or diner. Typically each cardboard insert was replaced with a new cardboard insert each season of the year.  Because of their popularity and their continued use for many years — a surprising number have survived for today's collectors.

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1941 Rib Mountain, Wisconsin Ski Lodge

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The frames are marked on the back with this stamp.

Excerpts from the 1941 Advertising Handbook

1941 Galesburg, Illinois window display

1943 Advertising Price List showing examples of the four different size frames available.



Post war modernism

The "New Deluxe" wall frame was first introduced in 1946 as an example of the more modern and streamlined designs that were emerging during the post-war era.  This "New Look"  point-of-purchase frame did not begin to see common use until about 1948, due to the widespread existence and longevity of the previous frame. The frames were offered to accommodate four standardized sizes of inserts — 16x27 vertical, 20x36 horizontal,  29x50 vertical and 27x56 horizontal. The introduction of the "New Deluxe" frame corresponded with the "New Look" launch of newly designed Dole soda fountain dispenser by Raymond Loewy.


The frames are marked on the back with this stamp.

A 1946 Advertising Price List Supplement showing the availability of the "New Deluxe Wall Frame".


A 1949 convention meeting showing the new wall frame and other advertising.


A late 1947 sales meeting at the Rochester Coca-Cola Bottling Corporation showing the "New Look" point of purchase advertising.



Space age materials

First offered in 1955 the "Light, Bright, Aluminum Frame" was offered in two sizes 27x56 and 20x36 inches.


1955 Price List Supplement showing the new metal frame.