Lost San Diego — Ben-Hur Coffee

Ben-Hur coffee distance

In continuing fascination for all things old such as the Dr Pepper/Hires Root Beer sign I spied downtown a few years ago, I had to stop to take a snap of this vintage painted sign for Ben-Hur Coffee.

Although I’ve never seen a can of Ben-Hur Coffee, research shows that this brand was a tie-in with the 1925 MGM silent movie (it was remade in 1959 starring Charlton Heston). Coffee, toiletries and fragrances were some of the commercial tie-ins for the novel and movie.

Ben-Hur closeup

The mural can been seen on the corner of Ivy and India Street in Little Italy, facing east. San Diego Reader has some background information about this painting here. Antique collectors can find vintage tins online including Etsy and eBay.

11 thoughts on “Lost San Diego — Ben-Hur Coffee

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  1. My parents, Nancy and Chris Cote (now of grafiksad.com) painted this. I believe it was one of the first jobs they had when they moved from Michigan to San Diego. I must have been 2 or so so that was around 1978.

  2. This mural was done closer to 1982. I still have pictures of it when it was finished and a picture of the can that we painted the mural from. The building was owned by Arnold and Esther Belinsky of “Arnold’s Furniture fame. Remember their commercials’ by-line “From our family to yours”. Arnold had hired an architect to redo the building more upscale for tenants. It was a Ben Hur Coffee warehouse prior and had a large advertisement on it for Ben Hur Coffee. The architect hired a sandblasting company to clean the brick exterior and they removed the ad. I recall Arnold was quite upset. He hired my wife and myself to put something back up. I proposed just a simple large mural of the can. It took a week to produce. The area of the mural had to be primed several coats with a thick primer because of the roughness of the brick. I will post the pics on my facebook page. Here is a link about the owners and their son. http://www.ranchosantafereview.com/2011/07/18/retired-furniture-dealer-recounts-highlights-of-career-impacted-by-family-competitive-tennis-f-scott-fitzgerald/ Here is the link to the photo http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=431368136933940&set=pcb.431371780266909&type=1&theater

  3. I Purchased one of those tin cans today from a local Salvation Army thrift store. With the lid, yet empty of coffee and missing the opener-key, it’s in good shape. Anyone aware of the last year these were used? Or it’s current value?

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