Stein Collectors International
Featured Stein ~ December 2021

The Christmas Coca-Cola Steins of the mid-1990s

By Steve Steigerwald
SCI Master Steinologist, member of the Burgermeister chapter

In the mid-1990s Coca Cola entered the Christmas character stein business with four entries. The first three steins all used the basic shape of the old fashioned Coca Cola bell-glass as the body of the stein. The stoneware bodies for the three were made by Gerz in Germany. The steins bore a flat pewter lid and stylized thumblift. Atop each of the three flat pewter lids was installed a different hand painted Santa figure made of cold-cast resin. These figures were made in Scotland and were permanently mounted on the flat pewter lid. The three year run was produced by Longton Crown. Each stein was a limited edition of 8000. They came with a Certificate of Authenticity which described the stein body decoration.

Coca Cola had been using Santa as a salesman since the 1920s. Starting in 1931 Coca Cola used an American illustrator, Haddon Sundblom, to prepare at least one Santa painting each year. His "realistic" depictions of Santa helped bring the character to life. Several of those paintings were then converted into posters. The three steins were based on paintings/posters crafted by Mr. Sundblom.

The first in the series was copyrighted in 1993. It is based on a 1949 Sundblom painting entitled "Santa Refreshed". The painting includes not only Santa and a team of reindeer but also a Coca Cola character named "Sprite Boy" who wears a Coca Cola bottle cap as a hat and is holding the reins for the reindeer. Santa is not depicted on the body of the stein. The term "Coca-Cola" adorns the body of the stein. The top of the stein bears the bust of a fully dressed Santa drinking from a bottle of Coca Cola. The base reads: "Produced in Germany For The Coca-Cola Company."

Second in the series is the stein entitled (and bearing the words): "The pause that refreshes". This stein, copyrighted in 1994, is based on a 1960 Sundblom painting entitled "A Merry Christmas Calls for Coke." The body of the stein depicts Santa sitting in an easy chair, being served a glass of Coca Cola by one of his elves, while two other elves are playing a bugle and bass drum respectively. The words "Enjoy Coca Cola" adorn the face of the bass drum. This depiction is based on the poster drawn from the painting which originally had three additional elves. The flat pewter lid is adorned with a resin figure which duplicates the Santa figure depicted on the stein body. An additional line has been added to the base to indicate the copyright date of 1994.

The last in the series, copyrighted in 1995, is based on a 1936 Sundblom painting entitled "Me too." The stein depicts Santa sitting cross-legged pointing to a bottle of Coca Cola. On the floor surrounding him are a doll, a toy duck and a train set. A sign saying "Drink Coca-Cola" is also incorporated in the body design. The "Me too" title and "The pause that refreshes" have been added in gold to the body. The lid figure duplicates the Santa depiction on the body. The base contains the 1995 copyright date.

In 1996, Coca Cola moved away from this series to produce one of its most popular pieces - the polar bear stein. The polar bears were first introduced as part of the Coca Cola sales group in 1993. The advertisement campaign became an instant hit. To capitalize on its popularity, the stoneware polar bear stein was introduced. It shows the bear holding a Coca Cola bottle with two of his cubs near a fir tree. One cub has a red scarf around its neck, the other is wearing a red cap with one ear peeking out.

The thumblift is a pewter recreation of the red Coca Cola disk which appears at the bottom of the front of the stein. The stein was made in Brazil and distributed by M. Cornell Importers as reflected on the base.

Each of these steins was of good quality and used versions are available on ebay and other secondary markets. None are overly expensive and they can add a dose of Holiday Cheer to your celebration at this time of year.

Wishing everyone a Very Happy Holiday Season!!! Prosit!!!