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

Middle Management Mid City Pub is the newest addition to the Capone's family ...
Pacific Northwest Inlander, May 27th

Wooden winebox tops form a mosaic behind the bar, whose surface is vintage advertising sealed in clear resin — an homage to tabletops in the other Capone's locations. But instead of "more taps than tables," as Capone's is known for, the draft...Read more

How Vintage Advertisements Got Depression Totally Wrong
Huffington Post, May 19th

While vintage advertising usually conjures images of "Mad Men"-era consumer campaigns -- think the iconic "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" commercial from the show's final episode -- print ads for pharmaceutical drugs often skipped the consumer ...Read more

Riding the Rails, Without Seeing a Train
Wall Street Journal, May 18th

The highlight is undoubtedly the 19 restored subway cars, complete with vintage advertising, that range from those dating back more than a century to cars from the 1960s and 1970s. If you grew up in New York City, you can try to remember your first...Read more

'American Pickers' looking for collections in Enid
Enid News & Eagle, May 17th

pre-1950s vending machines; pinball and slot machines; old movie posters; unusual radios like transistor or tabletop; antique casino or gaming machines' vintage movie memorabilia; vintage advertising items; taxidermy; vintage concert posters and T...Read more

SEK soon to be on TV
Pittsburg Morning Sun, May 14th

Listed on their "search list" are motorcycles and related memorabilia, early bicycles, pre-1950s vending machines, old movie posters, vintage advertising items, taxidermy, old rodeo items, firefighter collectibles, musical instruments, vintage sports...Read more

'American Pickers' coming to Ark City area
Winfield Daily Courier Online, May 13th

antique toys, unusual radios, movie memorabilia, advertising, military items, folk art, vintage musical equipment, vintage automotive items, old rodeo items, early firefighting equipment, vintage clothing, pre-'50s Western gear and vintage...Read more

Sneak Peek: Naples Ristorante E Pizzeria
BethesdaMagazine.com, May 12th

It boasts an airy, white interior complete with Italian finishes like a “hand gesture wall”, which an employee said was meant to pay homage to Italians who employ hand gestures as they talk, as well as vintage advertising posters and floor-to-ceiling...Read more

Portals to the past: Antique advertising overstates
Waco Tribune-Herald, March 25th

Portals to the past: Antique advertising overstates By Claire Masters Waco Tribune-Herald. I recently came across two marvelous old women's magazines, a McCall's from July 1930 and Good Housekeeping from November 1931. In contrasting them with their ...Read more