Man's $4 Flea Market Find of Old Coca-Cola Bottle Goes to Auction

A New Mexico man's purchase of a $4 bottle at a flea market could turn into a $5,000 or more pay day thanks to the bottle's ties with Coca-Cola's past.

Jim Vergo, of Albuquerque, said the aged bottle's label featuring coca leaves and the words "wine coca" caught his attention while he was shopping at a local market last fall.

"It was embossed with the name Pemberton," Vergo said in a statement released by Heritage Auctions. "I'm not a big Coca-Cola collector so it wasn't until I got home that I Googled and saw that it was Dr. Pemberton, the creator of Coca-Cola."

Heritage Auctions

Vergo's flea market find was one of only three bottles known to be in existence dating back to the original roots of what the world now knows as Coca-Cola, or Coke, soft drinks.

What makes Vergo's purchase even more significant is that the bottle, which dates back to the 1880s, has 90 percent of the original label intact.

"A couple of these bottles have been known to exist but none have ever been found with a label," Noah Fleisher, Heritage's director of public relations, told ABC News. "It's the most intact and earliest incarnation of what would become Coca-Cola."

The Dallas-based Heritage Auctions is set to auction off Vergo's bottle on Saturday, May 24. It is expected to fetch at least $5,000.

"I thought, well, you know, maybe I should open it up to the whole world," Vergo, a collector of sports memorabilia, old toys and art glass, told local ABC affiliate KOAT. "You know, put it in a major auction and let somebody that's really interested or even a club could buy it."

The bottle originally held French Wine Coca, the alcoholic "nerve tonic" created by Dr. John Pemberton, the Atlanta-based druggist who created the formula for what became Coca-Cola.

"It's the oldest Coke relic there is," Fleisher told ABC News of the bottle.