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Seattle Coffee History question (Corona Coffee)

I have before me a 3.5 lb glass container that has a label on it that says Corona Blend Coffee. It is a predominantly silver label with navy blue accents, and a "Juan Valdez"-like character next to a donkey. The lower part of the label has the words "imported-roasted and packed by Commercial Importing Co." with Seattle, Tacoma and Portland printed below it. It has a metal screw-on lid, plus a metal and wood handle affixed on each side. A pure guess, this appears to be something out of the 40's or 50's. I have googled everything that I can think of in trying to find out where this jar originated, without luck.

Anyone have any idea's?

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  1. My searches turned up quite a bit. For example, they advertised in the UW yearbook in 1916. Slogan: "The aristocrat of coffees". Apparently it was a fairly popular brand for quite a long time, I also found an ad from the Spokane Daily Chronicle July 26th, 1940. Their slogan then? "Costs More, Worth More"

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jeri L

      Where did you search? I'd be interested to see where else I can go. Thanks for the info!

      1. re: GH1618

        Are you sure that we're talking about the same company? Reason I ask is that unless they changed their name to ROYAL Corona Coffee, what you might be referring to is someone different.

        1. re: pamsmall

          It is the same, because the donkey logo went with it. Probably a merger of Royal and Corona brands. Here is another use of the logo:


          1. re: GH1618

            good assumption GH! Thanks again.

        2. re: GH1618

          I just responded to an earlier post of yours, but now having looked at all the Ebay links, perhaps you are correct. Thanks for helping me out. So now I need to determine what age my coffee container is. Any idea's, short of getting ahold of Douglas Distributing (Continental Importing)?

          1. re: pamsmall

            That's an idea. They might have some knowledge of when the corporate changes occurred.

          1. Here are some Royal Corona coffee cups, which show the Colombian connection:


            I think it's pretty clear that Juan Valdez came from the old Corona coffee logo.

            1. Then Royal Corona was bought out by Continental Coffee, and eventually, a new Commercial Importing Co. Was born:


              1. My Dad, Phil Fagan, was a nephew by marriage to John Shaw who was an owner of Commercial Importing. Dad worked from the early 30's until the start of WWII when he moved to war-related work.
                We had a "Juan" , the mozo, and "Delores", the donkey, in inexpensive plaster of paris. "Juan" took a tumble but we still have "Delores", whose ear is slightly damaged.
                I notice the above posting is over a year old. I logged on today to see what I could find about my Dad's employer from long ago. Dad had a restaurant coffee route from Seattle to Tacoma along Hwy. 99. I sometimes went with him on his route. My favorite stop was "The Big Tree Inn", partly constructed out of a large evergreen.
                We have not found many relics from this early coffee company in our antiquing. My daughter found a jar similar to the one above. I found a large metal coffee storage container in a restaurant in Packwood, WA and obtained it.

                Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

                1. Here's one that looks similar stated to be from the 1930's.


                  Sold Date:08/03/2011
                  Channel: Online Auction
                  Source: eBay
                  Category: Advertising

                  1930's Embossed Corona Coffee Jar, Paper Label, Lid
                  1930's Embossed Corona Coffee Jar, with original foil/paper label, and metal lid. Excellent condition, label shows light wear. Commercial Importing Co. Seattle, Tacoma, Portland. Vacuum Packed Coffee, Highest Grade, 1# net. Its actually a quart size jar. No chips, very nice piece.

                  1. History of Royal Corona Coffee
                    In 1899 John Shaw (husband of Gertrude Fagan) filed his papers incorporating the Commercial Importing Company (CIC).
                    The coffee business started in 1899, was mainly concerned with coffee sales. Tea became a second product line, as a natural extension of coffee as well as an effort to expand into the Canadian market. John also had coffee plantation holdings in South America.
                    Shaw’s best sales technique involved the leasing of a quality coffee urn for one dollar per month, with the understanding that the retailer would then buy coffee from CIC. Shaw’s business logo was “Cost More – Worth More”. This became his business rationale as well.
                    John N Shaw was president of the CIC, a pioneer Seattle wholesale tea and coffee firm. Its principle product is coffee marketed under the name of Royal Corona. Shaw was a nationally known tea expert and a tea taster for the Department of Agriculture’s National Tea Board for a number of years.
                    CIC had offices in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Tacoma, and Spokane and distributed coffee into Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia.
                    Following Shaw’s death in 1953 the assets of CIC were purchased by Continental Coffee Company of Chicago. In 1954 the CIC name was changed to Royal Corona Coffee Company.
                    About 1936 John Shaw began business in Salk Lake City with a relationship with Paul J Cecil.
                    When John Shaw died, the Salk Lake City operation was sold along with the Seattle firm to the Laken family, owners of Continental Coffee, Chicago.
                    About 1953, Paul added a partner, Vaughn Calwell and together they both mortgaged their homes and bought the business from the Laken’s.

                    1. Hi pamsmall, I just found your post. I was trying to find out about a building "Corona Blend Coffee" on the Elliot Bay water front in a photo I found of the contraction on the Aurora Hwy dated, 4/9/1952. The resolution of the photo is great so you can enlarge lots and read the signs on the building. It's your jar source, the logo matches. Great jar and great photo. Enjoy.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ClintonClub


                        That's a great photo... any chance you could link to the original?

                        (Edit: Well, not the ORIGINAL, obviously, but the full resolution scan?)