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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Restaurant Review: Mr. Fries a great addition to Upland's fast food choicesInland Valley Daily Bulletin, September 2nd
A family-owned and -operated eatery, Mr. Fries opened a month ago with a charming dining area featuring a retro decor with vintage signs and corrugated metal on the walls, which adds to the fun setting. The menu features 18 types of specialty fries...Read more
Don't make these rookie decorating mistakesHamilton Spectator, September 2nd
a space and don't pack seating too closely together. 12. OMITTING ART. It makes me think you haven't moved in yet if there's no art in a room. It doesn't have to be expensive, but hang a painting or a photograph or get playful with wall art like a...Read more
Lake Erie winery invites people to pick grapes on Labor DayPittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 1st
This vintage sign “I found in the bowels of the office,” she says. It has a flap that allows it to seek pickers or “tie-ers,” people who in the spring would help train the vines on supporting wires — a job now done by farm staff. She and her third...Read more
Let Signs Galore put your business's name in...Waterloo Record, September 1st
Signs Galore also offers sign repair and expert restoration services for vintage signs. For more information or a free consultation, call 519-648-2176 or toll-free at 1-800-350-5528. Signs Galore is located at 15 Woolwich Street South in Breslau, Ontario...Read more
12 rookie decorating moves you might be makingThe San Luis Obispo Tribune, August 31st
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
Decorating 101: avoiding rookie mistakesWichita Eagle, August 31st
It makes me think you haven't moved in yet if there's no art in a room. Total rookie move. If there's nothing on your walls, put something there. It doesn't have to be expensive, but hang a painting or a photograph – or get playful with wall art like a...Read more
Copal Grill neon sign resurfaces on CraigslistCharlotte Observer, August 29th
The city's fast-paced redevelopment has resulted in public tugs of war over several other vintage signs in recent years. Among the success stories: The JFG Coffee sign (dating to 1964), which was removed from the Interstate 277 loop in 2009 and later ...Read more
ONLY IN LB: Bad Yard Sale Sign Collection GrowsGazette Newspapers, August 18th
Kevin Modesti saw an electronic freeway sign on the 134 near Griffith Park that was supposed to say: “Striper ahead.” But, “it had an extra P,” reported Modesti, an editorial writer for the Los Angeles News Group, which includes the Grunion Gazette. Or...Read more