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    

Vintage 1950s Coca Cola Policeman School Zone Crossing Guard Tin Metal SignAntique Double Orange Soda Advertising Sign Rolf Armstrong Cherie Pin-up GirlRare Porcelain Radio Gasoline Sign 30" Economy Polly Wilshire Signal Hancock OldJohn Deere Dealer Antique Farm Implements Porcelain SignRare Antique Pepsi-cola Lithographed Die-cut Tin 5cent Advertising Bottle SignVintage C1930 Atlantic Ethyl Double Sided Porcelain SignCoca Cola Double Button Flange SignLiberty Oil Porcelain Sign 32" X 17"Original Texaco Porcelain Sign Disney Snow White Scary Adventures Dopey Dwarf Sign Attraction Ride PropVintage C.1920 Mckesson's Aspirin Drug 27" Porcelain Metal Thermometer SignStar Motor Gasoline Double Sided Flange Sign Vintage/antique Gas PumpShell Air Double Sided Porcelain SignDisney Snow White Scary Adventures Grumpy Dwarf Sign Attraction Ride PropVintage C1920 Sinclair Opaline Single Sided Porcelain Sign 72"Antique Machine Hit Miss Gas Steam Engine Tractor Cast Iron Oil Can Holder SignVintage 1930's Pollack Wheeling Stogies Melo-crowns Cigars 39" Thermometer Sign1940 Vintage Double-dot Pepsi-cola Tin Litho Flange Sign--10x15--nice!!Disney Snow White Scary Adventures Sleepy Dwarf Sign Attraction Ride PropDisney Snow White Scary Adventures Happy Dwarf Sign Attraction Ride PropOriginal Double Sided Greyhound Lines Bus Porcelain SignVintage Original Pontiac 42" Authorized Service Porcelain Metal Gas Oil Sign Old Gm General Motors Chevy Porcelain SignPorcelain 1940's -1950's Desoto Plymouth Approved Service Mopar Dealership Sign 1950's Antique Original/ 100% Valvoline Motor Oil SignOld Always Use Red Devil Coal Heat Porcelain Advertising Door Push Plate SignOriginal 1950s Exide Batteries Gas Oil Embossed Metal Sign No Reserve!!Large Vintage 1920's Standard Oil Red Crown Gasoline 42" Porcelain Metal SignVintage Nugrape Soda Pop Sign With Bottle Near Mint!!1940s Drink Moxie Flange Sign Soda Pop Root BeerVintage Yellow Stop Sign Marble Reflectors- Cataphote Corp. Toledo, Ohio- 1930sOriginal Texaco Golden Motor Oil Porcelain Sign No Reserve!Rare Original 1929 Shell Motor Oil Double Sided Clamshell Reflective Curb Sign! Rare Large Disney World Polynesian Resort Great Ceremonial House Prop Sign TikiVintage Original Porcelain Pontiac Indian Head Authorized Service Sign 36" X 51"Rare Antique C.1900 Gaar Scott Tiger Thresher Steam Tractor Farm Cast Iron SignLarge Vintage 1950's Coca Cola Soda Pop 54" Metal Arrow Sign1950 Delco Batteries Gas Station Dealership Vertical Sign With Wood Frame BackDisney Snow White Scary Adventures Sneezy Dwarf Sign Attraction Ride PropVintage Hamms Beer Barrel Lighted Sign North Woods Lake Canoe Man Cave Very RareOriginal Magnolia 42" Gasoline Double Sided Porcelain SignVintage C1950 Esso Double Sided Porcelain Sign 5'Disney Snow White Scary Adventures Doc Dwarf Sign Attraction Ride PropDisney Snow White Scary Adventures Bashful Dwarf Sign Attraction Ride PropVintage/original Dr. Pepper Metal Thermometer Sign~40s~good For Life~very Clean!Rare Vintage Narragansett Lager Pre Prohibition Porcelain Sign Beer AdvertisingVintage Griesedieck Brothers Beer Metal Button SignPabst Blue Ribbon Beer Pbr Neon Sign Vintage Bar Restaurant Decor Electric LightVintage Wwii Show Your Colors Military Advertising License Plate Topper Sign *** Rare Supertest Motor Oil Rack Porcelain SignVintage 1950s 48" William Marvy Barber Shop Pole Porcelain Sign Hair Cut ShaveVintage 1940's Mopar Chrysler Dodge Plymouth 57" Embossed Metal Gas & Oil SignVintage C1920 Standard Gasoline Double Sided Porcelain SignVintage 1950's Coca-cola Coke Fishtail Rotating Hanging 4 Sided Lighted Sign1966 Coca Cola Fishtail Sign Of Good Taste Sign UnusedKanotex Porcelain 42" Sign Double Sided Round Very Very Rare Excellent ConditionOriginal Chevron Credit Cards Porcelain Sign Enamel Gas Gasoline Motor OilOriginal Porcelain Pepsi Cola Door Push Bar "have A Pepsi" Advertisement SignVintage Exit Glass Globe Elevator Light Green Sign Advertising Gas Theatre OilVintage Pearl Beer Rotating Sign Lighted 3 D Waterfall 1960's Works

Recent News: Signs

Source: Google News

Walker Center's old 'W' welcomed at new high school home, August 20th

“I just have a mad love for vintage signs,” Terry Bayerlein said. “I'm always on the lookout for things like that. And I happened on Rainbow Signs and went to the back lot, because that's usually where the fun historical stuff is. I thought, this has...Read more

El Monte sells vintage signs after costly replacement project
San Gabriel Valley Tribune, August 17th

El Monte sells vintage signs after costly replacement project. Street signs at Valley Mall in El Monte are shown earlier this year. staff file photo. By Rebecca Kimitch, The San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Posted: 08/17/14, 7:18 PM PDT | Updated: 3 days ago...Read more

It's a man's world: What every guy needs in his 'man cave'
Sioux City Journal, August 16th

Among Witkowski's more unusual items are vintage signs advertising "old school" beers. "For instance, I love this old wooden Pabst Blue Ribbon sign," he said. "It's 100 years old and actually has real bullet holes in it. I think that's a nice selling...Read more

From the Travel Desk: Drive-ins delight during road trip
Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 16th

The family-owned restaurant commands attention with diamond-shaped vintage signs advertising hot dogs and cones, and cheerful white and red stripes topping the building. Picnic tables under an awning look like an open invitation (1-507-283-8317)...Read more

U-Hungry Truck: Wichita's first food truck?, August 15th

he got a huge line that he couldn't handle. His method works better, he said, and his regulars know his patterns. Those who want to try U-Hungry can call Ray at 810-210-2592 to find out where he is. The truck is red and decorated with lots of...Read more

Carnegie welcomes veteran rock producer
The Turlock Journal, August 14th

A Marshall stack used by Steve Vai on David Lee Roth's "Eat Em and Smile" tour will be on view along with an original 1959 Telefunken microphone used by Les Paul, a Monteleone guitar, and memorabilia such as a vintage sign proclaiming "The Iridium ...Read more

Looking for beer taps, railroad lanterns? Lamp Post Inn in Middletown holding ...
The Patriot-News -, August 12th

The bulk of the items on the auction block are décor items such as beer mirrors, tap handles, neon lights, vintage signs and bar glassware, he said. In addition, railroad memorabilia including lanterns and a spittoon, as well as furniture ranging from...Read more

Classic McDonald's sign gets new paint job
Green Bay Press Gazette, August 6th

The vintage sign at the Shawano Avenue McDonald's restaurant is getting a touchup, which it needs every few years. With Speedee looking on, Casey McDonald (yes, really!) works to touch up the iconic red paint. (Photo: Jim Matthews/Press-Gazette ...Read more