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”)
Historical Marker Database
Falvo Collectables Gallery
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Signs
Source: Google News
Tributes to life-long County fan who flew the flag at his Newport homeSouth Wales Argus, October 19th
Mr Rizzo started his road sign collection in 1977 when he was renovating a pub in Pill and thought the sign would look good elsewhere. In an interview with the Argus in 2005, Mr Rizzo said: "I looked around outside at the Pill I was born in, and I...Read more
T-Mobile's Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition Receiving Update To Android 4.4.4Android Police, October 18th
Shawn is a web developer by day and XDA's resident archivist for Nexus and Google Play Edition device OTA updates by night. When not immersing himself in code or Android, he can be found hunting down antique signs, taking road trips, listening to music...Read more
Share on FacebookGreat American Country, October 16th
We're on the hunt for American nostalgia. Architecture of yesteryear. Sprawling landscapes. Roadside icons rarely seen today. How about vintage signs, weathered barns and memorabilia harkening back to a specific time and place? No matter the era, we ...Read more
Arkansas News BriefsBaxter Bulletin, October 15th
He learned about the sign from a friend who collects antique signs and had the drinking-fountain sign in his collection. It's not known where the sign and drinking fountain were originally located, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. On Tuesday...Read more
'Whites only' drinking-fountain law to be repealedWND.com, October 15th
Donna Massey, a justice of the peace in Pulaski County, said she found out about the ordinance from a friend of a friend of a friend who collects vintage signs and came across a “whites only” drinking fountain sign with a county ordinance number. The...Read more
Hottest Pop-Up UnrestaurantsWillamette Week (blog), October 15th
15, 2015, on your calendar now or keep an eye peeled for the vintage sign on Southeast Powell Boulevard. The dinner, which celebrates 80 years next year, has only four stars on Yelp, though they're making tweaks, such as switching to Pugliese bread...Read more
Students collectively summit 48 peaks at annual Peak WeekendTufts Daily, October 14th
The Loj has a distinct feel — walls are adorned with old photographs and vintage signs and the kitchen is filled with mismatched mugs. For dinner this weekend, an enormous pan of vegetable pasta was served after people snacked on “Loj nachos,” a...Read more
Vintage sign, sedan stolen; reward offeredJacksonville Daily Progress, October 4th
Cherokee County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $500 for information about a recent theft from Jacksonville business. According to a press release, over a period of several nights, someone took antique Mobil Oil Company signs from Kirkland...Read more