From colorful Victorian trade cards of the 1870s to the Super Bowl commercials of today, advertising has gone from a small component of everyday life to a ubiquitous presence.

Perhaps the most easily recognizable advertising medium of the late 19th and early 20th centuries is the porcelain sign. Starting in the 1880s, companies saw the advantages of porcelain as a material that was both durable and weather resistant. Although these signs were first made in Germany, the manufacturing technique soon spread to America, where their bold colors and eye-catching graphics were put to good use advertising cigars, motor oil, railroads, and soda pop, especially Coca-Cola. With the onset of World War II, however, many of these signs were destroyed for the base metal they contained. Their resulting rarity makes them attractive to collectors.

A similar fate befell tin signs, which were often produced as a cheap alternative to porcelain ones. Unlike their porcelain companions, however, tin signs were prone to rust and degradation, so many of those that have survived the years are in poor condition.

On the other end of the size scale were celluloid pinbacks, cheap buttons that were meant to be worn and displayed. Some companies distributed pinbacks to encourage newspaper subscriptions or the purchase of particular brands of cigarettes, while others were handed out at political rallies as campaign pieces.

Alongside ads that were meant to be seen were ads that were meant to be used. Coca-Cola, for one, realized that practical pieces of advertising would last much longer than signs and posters, which were routinely discarded. Common types of “utilitarian” ads included thermometers, calendars, mirrors, and clocks, all of which bore a company’s brand name and image in some way or another. Some small storeowners, for example, kept their vintage Coca-Cola thermometers displayed in their stores, for the simple reason that they remained useful. Items that were never or barely used, of course, command the most attention from collectors.

Other advertising collectibles include produce crate labels, salesman samples, tobacco tins, beer trays, and door push and pull signs.


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Recent News: Advertising

Source: Google News

Samuel Robb Cigar Store Indian, and many vintage advertising posters and signs ...
ArtfixDaily, July 30th

Many vintage and antique advertising signs will come up for bid. Examples include a rare two-sided canister reverse glass sign for Moose Beer in excellent condition, made circa 1880; a rare porcelain Shell Oil sign for motorcycles, about 20 inches in...Read more

Julia Sells Antique Advertising, Toy, and Doll Division to Morphy
Maine Antique Digest, July 30th

Fairfield, Maine, auctioneer James D. Julia has sold his firm's antique advertising, toy, and doll division to Dan Morphy Auctions LLC, Denver, Pennsylvania. “For nearly 30 years, we have been a major force in the antique toy, doll and advertising...Read more

Burgundy by bike: a wine-tasting weekend
The Guardian, July 25th

There's a Victorian cabinet displaying an array of stuffed birds, vintage advertising prints, signage, cycling cartoons, Tour de France programmes and cycling miniatures. “I wanted to create an environment that would be welcoming to families, couples...Read more

Buckingham retiree spent decades casting actors for popular commercials
The Intelligencer (registration), July 25th

Vintage advertising scenarios involving stereotypical characters, particularly female characters, have come in for their share of criticism over the years. In turn, Messina, who worked on the premise that “the product is the star,” is dismayed by the...Read more

Get Ready Warren, History Channel's “American Pickers” Hunting for Valuables ...
TAPinto.net, July 23rd

wind-up and cast-iron toys, pre 50's vending machines, pinball and slot machines, old movie posters, unusual radios, old casino and gaming machines, vintage movie memorabilia, vintage advertising items, taxidermy, vintage concert posters and tee...Read more

West Orange Introduces 'Safe Exchange Zone' to Community for Safer Swapping ...
TAPinto.net, July 22nd

wind-up and cast-iron toys, pre 50's vending machines, pinball and slot machines, old movie posters, unusual radios, old casino and gaming machines, vintage movie memorabilia, vintage advertising items, taxidermy, vintage concert posters and tee...Read more

History Channel's “American Pickers” Hunting for Valuables in NJ in August
TAPinto.net, July 21st

wind-up and cast-iron toys, pre 50's vending machines, pinball and slot machines, old movie posters, unusual radios, old casino and gaming machines, vintage movie memorabilia, vintage advertising items, taxidermy, vintage concert posters and tee...Read more

Dan Morphy Auctions gets some fine acquisitions
Reading Eagle, July 10th

Dan Morphy, 43, of Lititz and his staff at Dan Morphy Auctions LLC., Denver, Lancaster County, have a knack for acquiring some of the finest antique collections. And now it has acquired something else: James D. Julia Inc. Auctioneer's antique...Read more