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 but often overlooked by comparison.

Big screen versus small screen is the issue. Recently, there has been revitalization 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 moving these items into the spotlight with collectors of all ages.

With the recent death of Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing on the 1990s smash-hit comedy 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-shaped 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.

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 coffeemaker with accessories, including k-cup coffee pods that have music-competition judge Randy Jackson’s photo on each one.

Similarly, the American Idol coffee machine comes with non-dairy creamer featuring a photo of host Ryan Seacrest and other 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 sports 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.


Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning media personality, Dr. Lori Verderame presents antique appraisal events nationwide and appears on Netflix’s King of Collectibles and History channel’s The Curse of Oak Island and Pawn Stars Do America. Visit and or call (888) 431-1010.

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