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.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Advertising Antiques

Advertising Antiques

This classy looking British site features hundreds of high resolution photos of antique porcelain pre-war (enamel) … [read review or visit site]

Historical Marker Database

Historical Marker Database

If you're the type who pulls over when you see a 'historic marker ahead' sign, you'll love this site. Orchestrated … [read review or visit site]

Falvo Collectables Gallery

Falvo Collectables Gallery

Ralph and Carol Falvo's excellent collection of automobiles, petroliana, jukeboxes, soda, and general store items. … [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Vintage 1967 Yahoo! Mountain Dew Soda Pop 28" Embossed Metal SignLarge Vintage 1951 Rc Royal Crown Cola Soda Pop Bottle 55" Embossed Metal SignOriginal On The Air Brass Lighted Sign Radio Studio Vintage Recording AntiqueRare Vintage 1936 Rc Royal Crown Cola Soda Pop 2 Sided 18" Metal Flange Sign1898 Original Coca Cola Ideal Brain Tonic Ad Poster Calendar Sign For Repair #1Antique Vintage Mining Metal Union Carbide Miner's Lamp 2 Sided Flange SignRare Vintage 1950's Drink Double Cola Soda Pop Bottle 28" Embossed Metal SignLarge Vintage 1950's Kist Orange Soda Pop Bottle 54" Embossed Metal SignVintage 1920's Hires Root Beer Soda Pop In Bottles 19" Embossed Metal SignVintage Old 1940s Zenith Antique Radio Standup Easel Type Advertising SignRare Hood Tires Double Sided Flange Sign Advertising Gas Station Garage MechanicDr. Pepper Sign, Coke,pepsi,tin,porcelain.Vtg**super Rare** 1920's Tidewater Flying A Tydol Porcelain Flange Gas Oil SignLarge Vintage 1950's Coca Cola Coke Soda Pop Bottle 54" Metal SignVintage 1950's Kist Orange Soda Pop Bottle Gas Station 30" Embossed Metal SignVintage Large 500 Platolene Gasoline 18" Porcelain Gas & Oil Sign. Pump Plate!Vintage 1950's Dairylea Milk Dairy Farm Grocery Store 15" Lighted Clock SignVintage/original Double Cola Soda Thermometer Metal Sign Dated 1940!~very CoolRadio Station "on Air" Sign Art Deco 1940's VintageOld Tavern Attic Fresh Blatz Beer On Tap Metal Back Bar Advertising Sign DisplayVintage**rare** 1940 Champion Spark Plugs Double Sided Gas Oil Flange SignVtg**rare**1930's Eskimo Pie Ice Cream Double Sided Painted Metal Flange SignVintage Jax Brewing Beer Sign Bar LightLarge Vintage 1950s Carnation Ice Cream Shop Sundae Grocery Store 36" Metal SignVintage Stihl Chain Saw Thermometer Advertising Sign Large Vintage 1927 Coca Cola Soda Pop Bottle 35" Embossed Metal SignVintage 1950's Ken-l-products Dog Food Farm Feed 2 Sided 28" Metal Flange SignVintage 1960's Smokey Bear Prevent Range Fires Hunting Fishing 44" Metal SignAntique William Marvy Model 55 Old Barber Pole Hanging Outdoor Advertising SignHamms Scene-o-rama Motion Advertising Clock Beer Sign Vintage Hamm's Beer SignCollectible Goodrich Tires 2 Sided Flange Enamel Sign 18" X 20.5"Rare Vintage 1940s Dr Pepper 10 2 4 Cola 18" Double Sided Metal Flange SignLarge Vintage 1950's Rc Royal Crown Cola Soda Pop Corn Sno Balls 52" Metal SignVintage Hudepohl Beer Lighted Sign Motion Bubble Lamp Works Cincinnati 1970'sOriginal 16" Coca Cola Button Sign Painted Not PorcelainOld Porcelain Vacuum Motor Oil Flange SignRare Vintage C.1920 Ford Fordson Oliver Farm Tractor Gas Oil 20" Metal SignVintage State Route 2 Arizona Highway Road Gas Oil 16" Metal SignRare Mountain Dew Button Sign Thin Tin Metal Embossed Mt.dew Soda Shop VintageLarge Vintage 1950's Pepsi Cola Soda Pop Bottle Cap 57" Embossed Metal SignChampion Spark Plugs Metal Flange Sign Double Sided Gas Station Auto Enamel Antique Vintage Statikil Cleveland Ohio Round Metal & Glass Pam Thermometer SignVintage C.1960 Coca Cola Fishtail Soda Pop Gas Station 2 Sided 14" Metal SignVintage 1965 Teem Pepsi Soda Pop Gas Station 17" Lighted Clock Sign~worksAntique Vintage Old Porcelain Train Railroad Sign W/marble Like Reflectors Nice Rare Vintage 1939 New York World's Fair Coca Cola Gas Oil Cast Iron Sign BaseRare Vintage 1940s Coke Coca Cola 24" Single Sided White Porcelain Button SignVintage 1960's Orange Crush Soda Pop Bottle 30" Embossed Metal SignVintage 1959 Coca Cola Soda Pop Bottle Take A Case Home Today 28" Metal SignVintage Porcelain Ford Magnolene 2 Sided Enamel Sign 22.5''x 16''.flange 2''Large Vintage 1950's Dr Pepper Soda Pop Gas Station 47" Embossed Metal SignLarge Vintage 1960's Orange Crush Soda Pop Bottle Cap Gas Station 38" Metal SignVintage 1950's Rc Royal Crown Cola Soda Pop Gas Station 26" Metal Sign:) 1920's Piedmont The Virginia Cigarette Porcelain Tobacco SignGulf Neon Porcelain Sign, Original 6ft. Tall From Early 1960'sVtg 1950's Drink Coca-cola Sign Of Good Taste Refresh Yourself Cigar ThermometerVintage 1950's Buster Brown Childrens Shoes 15" Lighted Pam Clock Sign~worksLarge Vintage C.1930 Mobil Mobiloil Gargoyle Motor Oil 24" Porcelain Metal SignLarge Vintage Ford Service Car Dealership Gas Oil 49" Sign W/hanging FrameRoyal Crown Rc Cola Tastes Best Porcelain Palm Press Advertising Door Push Sign