Sol Coleman Memphis Entrepreneur

... Cigars and Ko Ko Tulu Chewing Gum  

 
 

 

Dave French, one-third of the Historic-Memphis.com team, came across this clever bit of vintage Memphis advertising on eBay.  It was for "Sol Coleman, Manufacturer and Importer."  The card was "mechanical".  When you pushed the little white button in the center, the picture in the frame changed to a picture of a different family member.

Dave was intrigued by this bit of humor,  bid on the item and won it.  Now, the decision was where would it fit on the website?  And who was Sol Coleman and what business was he in? We have now found out quite a bit about this enterprising man who came to prominence in 1868.
 

Back Bad Brother Dude Brother Maiden Aunt Grandpa Mother in Law
 

Click on small photos to see an enlargement


Sol Coleman came to Memphis in the mid 1850s, and worked as a traveling salesman,  During this occupation he had become familiar with all the Memphis commercial territory and made many acquaintances and friendships.  In 1865 he established a small cigar business and manufactured the famous Ross Concha cigar.  With his wonderful knowledge of advertising, he built up a successful business and for a number of years had one of the largest wholesale and retail cigar business in the South.  He made money and knew how to spend it.  His first Cigar shop was located at 316 Main and then he moved to 295 Main in 1899.  Some articles show his address as 326 Main - perhaps a typo?.

 

Sol Coleman

Vintage Cigar Ad

1877 Ad Scimitar 1891 Free Lance 1894 Son - Harry Obit

Sol Coleman's address has been verified in the Memphis Directories from 1879 to 1899 as 316 Main and from 1899 to 1913 at 295 Main.  Sol was Director of the German Bank, the Manhattan Bank, the New South Land Co, and President of the Teutonia Building Loan Association. 

1872-Elec Lights

1881 Ad

1889 Article

Interior Cigar Palace

1901 Article

1907 Article

1908 Article

This building is located at 9 S. Main.  Before the street numbers changed to North and South Main in 1905, the number was 295 Main.  Sol Coleman has been verified in this building from the Memphis Directories in 1899 and he continued to do business here until his death in 1913.  After his death Hirsch and Slager Cigars took over this building.  So that would date this photo to circa 1914.  Today this building would be near Madison.  Look at the name on the window behind the cotton bale and you'll see "The Pastime".  This is not the Pastime Theatre, but a Billiard Parlor located on the 2nd floor.

   

"Book of Three States:  Notable men of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee" 

This book and the photo of Sol Coleman on the right were published by the Commercial Appeal  in 1914 after his 1913 death.  He had been scheduled to be prominently featured in the book, but rather than remove him after his death, the CA left the photo in place and added the tribute printed below:

 

No man was better friend, nor more generous foe.  Looking always on the bright side, he felt that behind the clouds the sun was still shining/ that into each life some rain must fall.  His home life was perfect; married to Miss Hannah Phillips in October, 1876, together they found the flowers of life and the green woods where the elves and fairies of love and happiness danced.  Discouragement never put one wrinkle on his happy face.  Misfortune never triumphed for one single day.  He enjoyed life's blessings and did not go down before its obstacles.  A power in more than local financial circles, a leader in the world of art and literature, standing high in Masonic ranks, and esteemed as one of the most public spirited and valuable citizens of Memphis, he was also one of the least ostentatious.  The world has held few men like him, and is better for his having lived.  Success in highest form was his; friends were legion; children and grandchildren blessed his home, yet when the last summons came, he answered without a murmur, for that was his creed, "The Will of God."

    


KO-KO TULU Chewing Gum

 In addition to this and running the Cigar business. Sol Coleman manufactured a very famous chewing gum of this period - KO KO TULU Chewing Gum.  It was popular all over the country.  He created great advertising campaigns for the gum, including the introduction of "trading cards".   Coleman registered a patent in 1885.  The name was never explained.

Extremely rare 1890's box Sol Coleman's Ko-Ko Tulu Chewing Gum

Lowenstein's Ad

Poster

Poster

Trading Cards

Gum Cabinet - Store Display

<  This unique Poster shows a "foreign" young lady.  The copy reads "Ask for Sol Coleman's celebrated Ko Ko Tulu Chewing Gum - THE STANDARD OF THE WORLD.  This would indicate that the chewing gum had moved into the International market. 

        
 
       

<  An 1880s letter from Sol Coleman showing his address at 316 Main.
   
   

      A 1908 advertising Blotter ...

An 1889 Ad...

An 1887 ad  for Ko Ko Tulu Chewing Gum

 

 A 1903 Sol Coleman Billhead

A 1881 Sol Coleman Billhead

  
 
 
 
 

Credits

 

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The "Historic-Memphis" websote would like to acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions which helped make this website possible:  Memphis Public Library, Memphis University Library, Memphis Law Library, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis Press Scimitar, Shelby County Register of Deeds, Memphis City Schools, Memphis Business Men's Club, Memphis Chamber of Commerce, Memphis City Park Commission, Memphis Film Commision, Carnival Memphis, Memphis Historical Railroad Page, Memphis Heritage Inc, Beale Street Historic District, Cobblestone Historic District, Memphis Historic Districts, Vance Lauderdale Family Archives, Tennessee State Archives, Library of Congress, Kemmons Wilson Family, Richard S. Brashier, Lee Askew, George Whitworth, Woody Savage and many individuals whose assistance is acknowledged on the pages of their contributions.  Special thanks to Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake, for giving us carte blanche access to his outstanding collection of contemporary Memphis photos.

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