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

New trailer released for 'Led Zeppelin IV' features rare version of 'Black Dog'
NME.com, August 29th

The clip features archive performance footage, vintage press shots, vintage advertising material and detail from the album's cover – watch it below. 'Led Zeppelin VI' and 'Houses Of The Holy' are both reissued in expanded editions on October 27...Read more

Movers & Shakers: Hospice by the Bay in Larkspur names new chief medical ...
Marin Independent Journal, August 28th

She most recently worked brokering art and antiques, specializing in vintage advertising. Before moving to North Carolina, she opened and later sold a skate board shop in San Francisco. She also worked as an assistant director of Jernigan Wicker Fine...Read more

NJ's best wings: Munchmobile crew doesn't chicken out in crispy quest
The Star-Ledger, August 15th

The decor is racetrack meets sports bar, with vintage advertising signs, race cars overhead and a gas pump or two. I rated these wings highly in my review of the Brick location back in 2012, but the Munchers were underwhelmed. "The only flavor that we...Read more

Model T added to auction, slot machine discovered in contents of nineteenth ...
ArtfixDaily (blog), August 14th

one of the antique advertising signs being auctioned in Pope Valley stage coach stop contents Sept. 6 in Napa Valley. Darby Patterson. Contents of the Pope Valley stage coach stop are being auctioned Sept. 6. Napa Valley Historic Society. Vintage...Read more

American Pickers Looking For Massachusetts Collectors
iBerkshires.com, August 11th

tractors, crocks, stoves or country primitives. The show is looking for items such as motor scooters, old movie posters, folk art, airline collecibles, vintage advertising items, taxidermy and more. For more information, visit http://www...Read more

Embracing Bacchus and forsaking inhibitions
Quad City Times, August 10th

perhaps purchased there by a former tourist back in the 1940s. Any vintage advertising figural of this nature is an outstanding commodity. Collectors love displayable pieces that feature iconic representative or trademark characters, whether it be...Read more

Solana Beach artist to join ArtWalk NTC @ Liberty Station
Del Mar Times, August 7th

Inspired by pop art and vintage advertising, the vivid portraits are hand-painted in acrylic on wood panels. Each portrait is based on a photograph provided by the client. Solana Beach artist Todd Murphy. “I enjoy it when the owner sees it for the...Read more

Morphy Auctions buys Las Vegas auction firm
Lancaster Newspapers, August 1st

VCA is an auction house known for its sales of vintage gambling/coin-op machines and antique advertising. For Denver-based Morphy, the purchase adds a presence in the western U.S. that it sought to become a national auction house. VCA's corporate ...Read more