If you wanted to become an ace collector of Coca‑Cola memorabilia, getting a job at a Coke bottling factory might be step one.
It certainly was the first step for Adelaide man Alby Semmens, whose collecting career took off while working at Coca‑Cola's Thebarton factory from 1967 to 1998.
Alby was a signwriter responsible for embellishing South Australian delis, or corner shops, with Coke signage. His movements as an employee also let him keep an eye on promotional materials marked for disposal – a classic case of one company’s trash becoming another man’s treasure.
It was the perfect inside track for nabbing collectibles.
"For 12 years of my time there I didn't worry about collecting but every Christmas Coca‑Cola would give you something and you'd take it home and put it away in a box,” Alby said.
“After a while I realised the cupboard wasn't big enough for them. It is now! I have a room 6m x 7m with ceilings, walls and shelves covered with collectables."
Alby specialises in collecting model cars and trucks but also has every sort of merchandise Coca‑Cola put its name on.
“My favourite piece would be a Franklin Mint six-inch scale model of a Model-T Ford with the Coke livery," Alby said.
When asked why he loved collecting, Alby laughed and said it was a compulsion.
“If you try collecting you find yourself saying 'no, I don't want another one' but then you can't say no – it's just the fascination of it.”
“I keep saying I've got enough. I'm getting to the age when I've got to downscale but then at the latest collector’s club swap meet I bought more."
With a 127 year heritage to draw from, there are items in Alby's collection that would date back almost a century as well as items made as recently as last year.
Collecting is an enduring passion for Alby and he's always happy to talk about his collection: Contact him at email@example.com
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