Pearls and the Face of Coke

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Remember all of the old Coca-Cola ad memorabilia? Maybe its because I am in Georgia, (the birth-state of Coke) but it seems every junk and antique shop I visit has some sort of Coca-Cola memorabilia from over the years. Well, spending the night in Atlanta last night was no different. I was perusing through our hotel’s local info when lo and behold I found this photo in an article about coke. Who is this woman in pearls?


She is Hilda Clark, the first face of Coca-Cola. Hilda was an American actress and singer who became the face of Coke in 1895. She was the first woman to be featured on a Coca-Cola tray. Hilda Clark remained the advertising “face” of Coca-Cola until February 1903 when another woman in pearls took over.


Lillian Nordica was also one of the earliest celebrities to appear in Coca-Cola ads. She was an opera singer, born in Maine in 1857, by the age of 22 she was debuting in the Italian opera. Years later she performed at the Met Opera, Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall. Starting in 1904, her image was widely used in Coca Cola ads in print. She was the face of the first full page magazine ad. This is the ad that featured in Good Housekeeping Magazine in 1905:

lillian nordica in pearls and coke first full page national ad pearls-and-the-face-of-coke


He image graces keychains, calendars, traya and more. That is right, at the age of 47, she became a model for Coca-Cola!


Lillian Nordica was rarely seen without three or four strands of pearls. There seems to be a lot of conflicting info about the source of Lillian’s pearls. Were they freshwater pearls from Maine or from the Mississippi River region? The question remains but these were, no doubt, high quality, beautiful pearls.


At the time of her death in 1914, Lillian’s jewels including her “Nordica Pearls” were valued at US$1 million, according to the Chicago Tribune. Do you want to read more about Lillian’s pearls? Read Tuesday’s post on her yellow pearl…

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