Posted 10 months ago
These eye-catching signs, known as ‘advertising globes’, were used to advertise beer brands in taverns throughout the United States in a period from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Primarily intended to be displayed outdoors (such as over the entrance to a tavern), they could be backlit with light and used to advertise at night or inside a dark bar.
Reverse glass advertising is still used today by breweries to advertise beer in establishments today. You likely have seen rotating globe signs from Guiness, Harp, Budweiser and Fosters advertising in your favorite pub. This contemporary example showcases the Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Leinenkugel is one of the oldest breweries in America - it opened in 1867.
Even though many baked enamel signs are now 60-70 years old, many of them retain their original artwork, since the process by which to make these signs created a very durable advertising face that was not easily affected by extreme weather or temperature.
Advertising glass lenses were made by fusing finely ground glass crystals, colored with metallic oxide, to glass. After the artwork is applied by silkscreens onto the advertising sign face it is fired in a kiln that operates at extremely high temperatures, at which point the host medium burned away, leaving the colored glass (or porcelain enamel) bonded directly to the advertising face. It was necessary to repeat this step for every additional color applied to the sign face, so a five color sign face had to be fired in a kiln five separate times.
While it is possible to scratch or chip the ad face with excessive abuse, the porcelain enameled finish is quite tough and durable and can spend years languishing in inhospitable environments without the artwork being affected. By contrast, other forms of reverse-on-glass processes that apply silk-screened paints that are not baked onto the surface are often found today with the paint on the advertising face peeling, cracking, or already fallen off.
If you have a reverse glass backlit sign that you are interested in selling, I am an avid collector of these signs and would enjoy hearing from you.