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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Ad Access

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Found in Moms Basement

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Recent News: Advertising

Source: Google News

Art Of The Vehicle Opens Sunday At Carriage Barn In New Canaan
The Daily Voice, April 18th

Among the works are contemporary paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures, as well as vintage advertising posters. “The Va Va Vroom exhibit promises to be among the best this year at the Carriage Barn,” said Steve Karl, vice president of KARL ...Read more

Va Va Vroom! The Art of the Vehicle @ The Carriage Barn
CT News (blog), April 17th

The show, on view from Sunday, April 19 through Sunday, June 14, 2015, features contemporary paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures by 35 artists from Connecticut and New York as well as vintage advertising posters, motorcycles and car ...Read more

'More Than a Career': New Canaan's Buzz Kanter and His Motorcycles
New Canaanite, April 17th

Featuring contemporary paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures by 35 artists from Connecticut and New York as well as vintage advertising posters, motorcycles and car models, the show celebrates the 1895-built Carriage Barn's own heritage as...Read more

Treasure: Bottles part of decorative decanter wave
The Detroit News, April 16th

He estimated its value at approximately $60-$80, adding that there is definitely a market for vintage advertising and bar pieces like this. “It's retro in a kind of Mad Men way and continues to be a popular collecting area,” he told Birney. It's...Read more

American Pickers return to Wisconsin
Appleton Post Crescent, April 16th

Fans of the show know the "American Pickers" love old motor scooters and motorcycles, vintage advertising signs, movie memorabilia, military items, vintage automotive items, early firefighting equipment and old toys. Their specific list of wants also...Read more

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Maine Antique Digest, April 13th

Bruce Weir, who owns the Indy Antique Advertising Show, held twice a year on the Indiana State Fairgrounds, noted, “All the scuttlebutt seems to be on the news.” He did not expect RFRA to affect his show. “I don't know that it's going to be a game...Read more

Bottles, postcards among items featured at event
Hutchinson News, April 8th

Don't bottle up your excitement; share it with other enthusiasts Sunday during the Antique Bottle & Postcard Show. Collectors and vendors will have their bygone treasures set up from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. inside the Sunflower South Building on the Kansas...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