Vintage Water Coolers Shopping Guide

Vintage water coolers: do you remember those?

Vintage water coolersAs early as the 1920’s, 1928 to be exact, these convenient ice boxes were created by Glascock Bros manufacturing firm commissioned by Coca-Cola to invent the Coke cooler for sale to retailers.

Having created this brilliant idea Glascock in 1929 made shop coolers in the shape of a rectangle for sodas at the top and a rack at the bottom to hold the empties.

The 1930 saw the emergence of electrical coolers but this new trend was not to be out done by the more convenient and portable water coolers which were far more appropriate and attractive for the great outdoors.

The water coolers or igloos as they were sometimes called became a must have family item in the 50’s for keeping drinks cold and your regular icebox cake to be had on family picnics, beach outings and hikes in the mountains.

Some of the famous features were in the branding of these water coolers with logos of drink products making the items very nostalgic for collectors.

The most common ones are:

  1. Coca Cola Designed
  2. Chest Types
  3. Coolers
  4. Those from 1934-59
  5. Those Built by Westinghouse and Cavalier

Cooler types can be easy to identify if you know what to look for based on size, description and year. vintage-water-cooler-adThis link will give you a chart for identifying these vintage coolers:

The Guide to identify Coca Cola designed, Chest-Types, Coolers ,1934-1950

You can still find various types of Vintage Water coolers for sale on places like

You can find ads for Vintage water coolers on

The vintage water coolers shopping guide:

Now if your cooler is over 50 years old chances are you won’t be able to locate the metal ID plates. And if the model number is present the information there may be illegible.

If the item is an original without restoration or disturbance to its original features these will be easier to identify.

The recommendation for collectors trying to buy vintage coolers is that they should question thoroughly the sellers whether from the web or in person on the origins, manufacturer, dates, and look over the item thoroughly for the Manufacturer’s name and the model number.

Model names constantly changed as the years went by for example ‘Master’ to ‘various letters and -6’, to ‘various letters and -10’, to ‘various letters and -12’.

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It is to be noted that the FD-2 was not a Coca-Cola designed product.

Identifying the Westinghouse Coolers from Tennessee Furniture Co

Westinghouse manufactured their coolers in 1934 while; Tennessee Furniture Co. (Cavalier) manufactured identical products in 1936. Incidentally neither strayed far from the original Coca Cola oasis-vintage-water-coolerlook.

It is important to observer that the engraved Coca-Cola logo is an indication of the date.

If the word DRINK is engraved in the Coca-Cola logo envelope that would be a rectangular box with a circular shape touching ‘Cola-Cola’ this would have been made in 1934 – 1938. If ‘DRINK’ is placed above then 1939 or later.

Sizes, shapes and Dimensions

Coolers with straight, vertical, sides were made in 1934 – 1942 (pre-war). Coolers with bowed, vertical, sides were made in 1946 or later (post-war).

The production of these units was stopped during the Second World War between mid-1942 and the latter part of 1945. There were three distinct sizes referred to as Junior, Maters and Giants.

Nor surprisingly coolers before the World War would likely have lids missing. There are only 2 for this group; one is the junior size and the other is the half Master size.

The dimensions of the junior width are 25 ¼” equaling approximately a lid size equaling 21″. With the hinge line x 13″ perpendicular to the hinge line. Only a singular lid is used on the junior.

These add up to about two lids, hinged back-to-back, which is the standard for this classic. Two assemblies which are standard (4 juniors) are generally used on the Giant.

Looking at the half Master lid size this equals 21″ with the hinge line x 19″ perpendicular to the hinge line. These two hinging back-to-back, and are generally used on the Master. Dimensions are approximate and may vary plus or minus.

Things to note: lids were never engraved with the under-side Coca-Cola logo before 1940.


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