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

Vendors, residents skip Elkin in yard sale fee snafu
Elkin Jonesville Tribune, July 31st

A wide range of antiques from furniture to vintage toys are on display in State Road on Saturday as part of the Take A Break From the Interstate road market sale along U.S. 21. Some vendors and residents participating in the sale complained about Elkin...Read more

'American Pickers' want to pick through your Pennsylvania stockpile
Patriot-News, July 31st

After some haggling with a cast of interesting characters the pickers meet along the way, Wolfe and Fritz will buy anything from motorcycles, classic cars and bicycles, to vintage signs, toys and other one-of-a-kind memorabilia. If you feel you have a...Read more

Bendable, poseable Jesus! (for ages 3+, choking hazard)
Religion News Service, July 30th

A Jesus that you can twist, bend, and pose — an analogy for religion packaged like any other action figure. And, it's on sale! Only $7.99 on Amazon. I found this gem in store marketed next to “vintage” signs and children's novelty toys. It's made by...Read more

70-mile sale a success
Elkin Jonesville Tribune, July 28th

Vintage sign and toy dealer Angie Swaim said that people really seemed to be enjoying the sale. At her booth, “Done Been,” they were able to reconnect with some old friends and memories of the past. She said that vintage toys were a popular item...Read more

10 of the best restaurants in Palma de Mallorca – on a budget
The Guardian, July 26th

A little piece of Americana has landed in Santa Catalina – cue red vinyl booths, chrome counters, vintage signs, and the best burgers in Palma. Choose from a sensible-sized regular at €5.50 to a 300g double Texas at €11. There's also a branch near the...Read more

MyDoorSign.com gives all-gender restroom signage a makeover
LGBT Weekly, July 25th

NEW YORK – MyDoorSign.com redesigned its all-gender sign collection after receiving criticism for the old graphics. The new designs feature simple iconography and a clear “all-gender restroom” descriptor. The innovative look grew from social justice ...Read more

Man says deputies slow to arrest sign theft suspect
Lancaster Eagle Gazette, July 23rd

Brunney reported the break-in on July 12 and had a sheriff's deputy come out to the property, where he described the items stolen, including the sign collection, three guns and two antique oil lamps, which also had a lot of sentimental value to Brunney...Read more

Weekend Auto Calendar: Have Gasoline, Need Antique Pump
New York Times, July 18th

Maggie Valley Festival Grounds holds a meet celebrating all things petroleum, including gas pumps, vintage signs, toys and old license plates. Admission is $5, and children 12 and under get in free. More info. ? Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome British Car...Read more