Dr. Lori: ‘Friends’ and ‘American Idol’ collectibles connect TV to coffee culture [antiques column] | Antiques

Movie memorabilia and film collectibles are known to bring big bucks in the vintage collectibles markets, but objects associated with the history of television are just as popular — and often overlooked by comparison. Big screen versus small screen is the issue.

Recently, there has been a revitalization with collectors of the collectibles that highlight the early decades of American television. Now, as the landscape of television is in flux with streaming services, YouTube TV, and the vast offerings of new online content, television collectibles from the 1970s to the 2000s are now moving into the spotlight with collectors of all ages.

For decades, television shows have been a treasure trove for collectible objects. For more than a half-century, characters from these TV shows have been the basis for some of the vintage collectible market’s most sought-after and rare objects. Here are some valuable TV collectibles that remind us of popular television shows and their beloved characters.

With the recent death of Matthew Perry, who played the character of Chandler Bing on the 1990s smash-hit show “Friends,” collectibles associated with the NBC show have sparked new interest. The show highlighted the everyday lives of a group of friends in their late 20s/early 30s living in New York City.

Much of the funny social activity took place in a coffee shop, near Central Park, called Central Perk. It follows that one of the rare TV collectibles from “Friends” is a canister of Friends instant coffee resembling the popular General Foods International Coffee brand and the unmistakable elongated tin from the 1990s.

The rare tin that depicted the six characters — Monica, Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe and Chandler — on the label sells online for $100 each.

HG Dr Lori J5 2.jpg American Idol coffee maker

This “American Idol” Keurig K-cup machine, and its accessories, could be found in Fox Network affiliates’ studios around the country. It’s now a collectible.

Also, American coffee culture of the late 1990s and early 2000s permeated the collectible objects associated with the TV competition show, “American Idol.” A rare “American Idol” collectible on the market today is a Keurig coffee maker featuring accessories including K-cups with music competition judge Randy Jackson’s photo on each pod. Similarly, the “American Idol” coffee machine comes with nondairy creamer featuring a photo of host Ryan Seacrest and judges from the TV show that ignited the careers of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Kimberley Locke, Adam Lambert, Kellie Pickler, Clay Aiken and others.

The coffee machine itself has the “American Idol” logo and the lot sells for $500 in new condition. Most of these machines were found in the early 2000s in Fox network studios around the country.

While TV collectibles come in traditional and somewhat unusual forms, collectors remain taken with the characters of the small screen and the items that remind us of shows that made TV remarkable.

With a Ph.D. from Penn State University, Lori Verderame is an antiques appraiser, author and award-winning TV personality who has appeared on the TV shows “The Curse of Oak Island” and “Pawn Stars Do America.” You can watch her “Real Bargains” show at She gives appraisal information at or call 888-431-1010.

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