Thursday, August 01, 2002

Coca Cola Collectible Bird Cards

Purchased at an antique mall in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia: two cards from a series produced by the Coca Cola Company. The cards are from THE WORLD OF NATURE Series V, Among Our Feathered Friends. Each card features a painting of a bird by Lynn Bogue Hunt with accompanying descriptive text about the bird. The cards probably date from the 1930s or '40s.

Card No. 3. The Bluebird, Sialia sialia. The text reads:

Anyone who has ever caught a flash of blue through spring orchards, and listened to the Bluebird's gentle, purling song, will not wonder that he has been chosen as the traditional emblem of happiness. The male bird comes to us earlier even than the Robin, followed by the female about a week later. Together they build a soft nest of grass, perhaps in some old apple tree, but they will move into a bird house, if you provide one. They bring good luck, in the true sense, devouring hordes of grubs and caterpillars. They remain till frost time, usually raising two lusting broods, then go South, some even to Bermuda for the winter. Protect the birds. They are our friends.
Card No. 11. The Herring Gull, Larus argentatus. The text reads:

On all sea coasts, up great rivers and flapping tirelessly over large inland bodies of water, the Herring Gull (or some related species) presents a picturesque sight. It is a large bird, with powerful bent wings, a strong flier, and often follows vessels far out to sea. It adds a touch of life to the expanse of wave and sky in mid-ocean. On these flights it lives upon the refuse thrown out by ships, for it is a scavenger. Along shores and in coastal waters it thus helps to keep down pollution.
Coca Cola was just one of a variety of companies that produced bird cards for free (or minimal-cost) distribution to customers in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Others that come to mind include Dwight & Church, Arm & Hammer, Singer, and a host of tobacco companies.

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