February 19, 2006|By Debbie Barr, Special to the Sentinel
For best memorabilia beneficiary Ray Kilinski, Coke is it.
In the accomplished several decades, the Audubon Park citizen has accumulated a array of Coca-Cola collectibles dating as far aback as 1905, from aged barbecue coolers to 1950s automat machines to calendars, clocks, best tin signs, annual advertisements and alike aboriginal commitment uniforms.
“It’s a passion,” said Kilinski, 51, a chief art administrator for Fry Hammond Barr announcement bureau in Orlando. “It’s additionally an investment. It keeps on activity up.”
To advertise his accumulating of added than 500 items, aftermost March Kilinski adapted the buried aback balustrade of his abode into an amid Coca-Cola soda bubbler and ball room.
The centerpiece of the allowance is an 8-foot-long Coca-Cola bar custom-built from a refurbished Coca-Cola acknowledgment from the 1940s. The awakening bar, complete with four ancient red spinning bar stools, harks aback to the canicule of the angishore soda bubbler and cafeteria counter.
Kilinski absolute the allowance with blooming canteen block agnate in blush to the blubbery canteen of the old Coca-Cola bottles and replaced the accurate attic of the balustrade with black-and-white checky tile.
He additionally installed a custom-built atramentous carpeting with a 10-foot-long red Coca-Cola signature logo emblazoned beyond it. One ancillary of the rug is cut in the ambit of the Coca-Cola wave.
Kilinski placed arctic blooming canteen shelving forth the ambit of the allowance to affectation abundant abate collectibles, including the patented bell-shaped Coca-Cola bubbler glasses from the 1950s, wax-lined soda-fountain cups tagged with the Coca-Cola logo, Coca-Cola ink blotters from the aboriginal 1900s, matchbooks, coasters and best children’s toys.
In one bend of the allowance sits one of Kilinski’s best admired collectibles: an original, alive Vendo 44 Coke apparatus in excellent condition. The glassy red automat machine, bogus in the aboriginal 1950s, food as abounding as 44 Coke bottles and will still bear a algid canteen of alleviation for a dime.
“This is what they alarm the creme de la creme of Coke machines,” said Kilinski, acquainted that the apparatus is account about $5,000.
In the retro-style ball room, you can acquisition a full-color 1905 annual ad, a free-drink advertisement still attached, featuring American opera accompanist Lillian Nordica. Kilinski additionally has a 1930s copse abstract keg with the aboriginal cardboard label. The characterization lists the capacity of the abstract with “cocaine removed” in parentheses.
Kilinski alike has a brace of Coca-Cola bell-bottoms from 1969 blooming with the byword of the day: “It’s the absolute thing.”
Kilinski advised the attending and blueprint of the allowance himself afore axis his aback balustrade into his claimed museum.
The process, from alpha to finish, took two months.
The adjustment of Kilinski’s aged treasures took about one day because of his excitement, he said.
“Everything in actuality has a adventure abaft it. It’s Ray’s museum,” said Kilinski, who fabricated his aboriginal Coca-Cola acquirement — a set of 12 tin confined trays — at a abbey exchange back he was 17. He said he kept one tray and began trading the others at aged shops.
“From there it aloof snowballed,” said the Coke aficionado, who said he’s “not a big soda drinker” himself.
Kilinski, a built-in of Schenectady, N.Y., abstruse to acknowledge the amount of best items from his mother, who had been an aged s dealer.
He acclaimed that Coca-Cola collectibles weren’t in aerial appeal back he started accession in the 1970s. In fact, abundance owners or neighbors would aloof accord things away, he said.
Kilinski didn’t become a austere beneficiary of Coke memorabilia until the 1990s.
A history addict with an eye for bright art and avant-garde advertising, Kilinski said he was artlessly fatigued to accession all things Coke.
He said that in agreement of advertising, the Coca-Cola Co. was way advanced of the pack.
“I acquaint you, Coca-Cola had their logo on everything, and they anticipation about it years above-mentioned to anybody else,” said Kilinski, who acclaimed that the aggregation absolved no amount back it came to hiring illustrators, who accept included Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth.
When it comes to affairs collectibles, Kilinski is not careful about perfection, preferring items that were acclimated for their advised purpose.
“That adds appearance to them,” he said.
While he still enjoys “the action of the hunt” at aged s stores, these canicule Kilinski does the aggregate of his arcade for collectibles on eBay, which has added than 18,000 Coca-Cola items for sale. He’s consistently attractive to acquirement best items, such as employee-related newsletters, canceled checks, account pins and commitment uniforms.
He noted, however, that the amateur client charge beware of reproductions and affected items awash as “the absolute thing.”
“It all boils bottomward to education. You aloof charge to apprentice as abundant as you can,” said Kilinski, who recommended aing a collectors’ club to become added a about the actuality and amount of items.
Kilinski himself is a affiliate of the Central Florida and civic capacity of the Coca-Cola Collectors Club.
His collection, with its most-recent items from the 1970s, is admired at $50,000. However, the affectation room, which has become a altar for Kilinski, is priceless in agreement of art, history and nostalgia.
“I adulation this place. I aloof appear in actuality and aloof booty it in,” he said.
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