Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    John Pemberton's First Coca Bottle: The Precursor to Coca-Cola.

    French Wine Coca Bottle with Original Paper Labels. This bottle is a rare survivor from the pre-history of Coca-Cola. It contained Pemberton's French Wine Coca, a beverage designed to compete with Vin Mariani, a Bordeaux wine infused with cocaethylene (cocaine and alcohol). John Pemberton was an Atlanta, Georgia druggist and Civil War vet whose war injuries were assuaged with pain killers and other narcotics readily available at the time. His alcoholic "nerve tonic" was mixed with coca, kola nut, damiana and cocaethylene. Pemberton marketed his version as a panacea that would alleviate pain and improve sexual function. In 1885, Atlanta and Fulton County enacted temperance legislation. Fearing his new product might soon be banned from the market, Pemberton developed a new formula using the kola nut and the unrestricted coca (the first "New Coke"!). The result was the earliest formula for Coca Cola. Financial difficulties and the need to finance his own drug habit prompted Pemberton to sell his formula to Asa Candler in 1886. For a period of years, Coca-Cola still contained small amounts of cocaine and was marketed as the "Ideal Brain Tonic" that would relieve headaches and fatigue. Embossed at the base of the neck of the bottle it reads "Pemberton's Wine Coca." Although there is loss on the back label, the front is nearly complete. Typical of medicinal bottles made during the 1880's, this bottle has an applied lip and shows some residue or "sickness" to the inside. Size: 11" tall. We are aware of only three Pemberton "French Wine Coca" bottles in existence. This example is the only one with the labels largely intact.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2014
    24th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 9,442

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $100,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $100,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on May 24, 2014 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 November 12 - 13 Space Exploration Signature Auction.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage Auctions and Mr. Chad Reingold were...professional and courteous in all transactions and provided outstanding service in answering my many emails. I recommend them at the highest level.
    Killy M.,
    Melbourne Beach, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search