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

The lure of antiques
Stowe Today, September 3rd

While antiquing has a reputation for being an expensive hobby, Parker's shop offers trinkets such as vintage advertising buttons for as little as 25 cents apiece, and there's a $5 section where ambitious customers can sift through piles of hand...Read more

Cars, people in custom culture scene subjects for renowned photographer
Chron.com (blog), September 2nd

Dirk “Pixeleye” Behlau is the type of photographer whose signature style both infuses elements of classic vintage advertising and modern punk rock attitude, blending the two together to create imagery that has been featured and appreciated around the...Read more

Exhibit at Pioneer Heritage Museum traces history of Amana Refrigeration
Iowa City Press Citizen, September 1st

These include one of the very first microwave ovens produced at the plant, memorabilia from the Amana VIP Golf Tournament, vintage advertising and an extensive photo display that shows how the manufacturing site has grown since its inception...Read more

Golden Valley garage proprietor is fuelling nostalgia with revamp
Hereford Times, August 22nd

Golden Valley garage proprietor is fuelling nostalgia with revamp. Vintage advertising for Raleigh and Castrol on the outside of the shop. 1533_1007. Photo: James Maggs. A new storage tank is being installed as part of a refurbishment to West End...Read more

Affordable collectibles: vintage poster show in Hong Kong
South China Morning Post (subscription), August 14th

Lovers of vintage posters are in for a treat at an exhibition in Central. The show at Picture This Gallery, “The Art of Advertising - An exhibition of 20th Century Original Vintage Advertising Posters”, comprises more than 40 vintage original posters...Read more

Staycation Sunday at the Seiberling
Kokomo Perspective, August 7th

It features a selection of early made-in-Kokomo Haynes and Apperson autos. In addition to the more than 100 antique cars, those who appreciate vintage advertising and antiques will enjoy a great collection of signage and a variety of memorabilia...Read more

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