Antique and vintage signs are highly sought after by collectors for their beauty, enduring historic value, and because they make great discussion pieces. Used to advertise everything from soda to farm equipment to household appliances, key genres include wood, porcelain (aka enamel), tin, and neon.

Porcelain enamel signs were first produced in Europe in the late 1800s, and became popular in the U.S. in the 1890s. Porcelain signs were made of powdered glass fused onto rolled iron. Different colors were stenciled on and fired, creating a different layer for each color; although later porcelain signs were silkscreened. Porcelain signs were durable and able to withstand exposure to the elements, so tens of thousands were made. But during the World War II scrap drives, many were melted down. Eventually high labor costs caused porcelain signs to fall out of favor in the 1950s.

Tin signs were also melted in WWII scrap drives, halting production almost permanently. Although some tin signs were made after the war, their reemergence was short lived. Tin signs reached their peak of popularity in the 1920s and were usually painted, screenprinted, or stamped. But they were not as durable as porcelain signs, and were prone to rust.

The first neon sign was introduced in 1912, for a Parisian barber. Neon signs contain tubes filled with neon or inert gasses that glow when a high voltage is applied. Though popular in the 1920s and 1930s, they were expensive to make and very fragile. In the 1940s and '50s, custom-made neon signs were produced in small quantities for businesses like restaurants, clubs, bars, hotels, and auto dealerships. More modern mass-produced neon signs for companies like Budweiser and Coca-Cola can also be collectible.

Some collectors also seek out vintage cardboard signs, which were popular in the mid-20th century and were used to advertise a broad range of consumer items (soda, beer, candy, etc.) and upcoming events, like the circus. Other sign formats, like and door pushes and pulls, are highly sought after as well.

Although some collectors focus exclusively on signs, many pursue the hobby as an adjunct to another collecting interest. Therefore antique and vintage signs related to these areas are in high demand, like automobile, oil and gas, travel, farm, food, smoking, beer, and railroad signs. Signs from the west coast are in especially high demand.

With antique and vintage signs, condition, visual appeal, and scarcity are important influences on value. Many signs have bullet holes from being shot at or rust or crazing from exposure to the elements. Do your homework before buying - many reproductions have been made and many signs have been restored.

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Recent News: Signs

Source: Google News

Local business closing its doors; owner cites Business Personal Property tax
Liberty Hill Independent, October 5th

Today, the store has a “guys' room” complete with fishing and hunting gear, tools, camping equipment, vintage signs and decor for the “man cave.” Legacy began attracting the “hipsters from Austin” when she added his album collection. In mint condition...Read more

Jericho Country Store keeps customers coming back after 208 years
WCAX, October 4th

Look anywhere inside and you can see history in the form of vintage signs, boxes, coffee cans -- even a cash register! "I mean, the store is more than 200 years old, so even as owners have cleared it out and cleaned it out, there's always something...Read more

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The Detroit News, October 1st

It doesn't have to be expensive, but hang a painting or a photograph — or get playful with wall art like a vintage sign. Get the latest on home decor trends, design ideas, shopping guides and food news, and take a look inside your favorite celebrity...Read more

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Atlanta Magazine, October 1st

At Le Fat, Guy Wong's new Vietnamese restaurant, the design, inspired by the French colonial era, hits you the minute you walk in. The vintage signs convey an ornate Eurasian elegance, and the two rooms are painted the cool colors (particularly a muted ...Read more

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Duluth News Tribune, September 30th

It doesn't have to be expensive, but hang a painting or a photograph — or get playful with wall art like a vintage sign. Advertisement. Explore related topics:featureshomeHome. Sponsored content. This Guide Will Have Your Property Looking Great in No...Read more

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Atlanta Magazine, September 30th

At Le Fat, Guy Wong's new Vietnamese restaurant, the design, inspired by the French colonial era, hits you the minute you walk in. The vintage signs convey an ornate Eurasian elegance, and the two rooms are painted the cool colors (particularly a muted ...Read more

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The owners are considering doing something special to the women's bathroom, as well, after getting complaints from females who learn of the sign collection. MLive reporters John Gonzalez, Jessica Shepherd pose with P.J. Barrera, Christopher Horb and ...Read more

Paramount's vintage sign cuts a new look for historic Austin theater (Slideshow)
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The Paramount Theatre will be almost impossible to miss in downtown Austin following Monday's installation of its historic vertical “blade” sign atop its marquee. The sign ceremony, which attracted more than 100 onlookers along Congress Avenue, serves ...Read more