Signs have been displayed in front of businesses for hundreds of years, making it one of the oldest methods of advertising. These signs were most often made of wood, but they weren’t very durable. The signs were damaged by the elements and became blurred. This led to the era of vintage porcelain signs becoming very popular. They were especially popular in cold and wet regions.
History of Porcelain Signs
Vintage porcelain signs were first used in Europe in the late 1800s. These beautiful vintage porcelain signs were created by artisans from Germany, Italy, or other countries. They were weather-resistant and durable, making them very popular. They can withstand rain, snow, sun, dust and other weather conditions.
The porcelain sign finally made its way to America in 1890. These signs were also known as enamel or enamel porcelain signs. Most of them were imported from Germany.
They were created by artisans who carefully applied layers of powdered glass to a base made of rolled iron or steel. To make the signs stand out, they used vivid colors and intricate designs. Vintage porcelain signs in this size and color range are a great choice for businesses looking to establish their brand.
American manufacturers began to bring in European craftsmen to make these enamel signs in America. The designs eventually took on an American look. They were popular throughout the country in gas stations, oil companies, soda companies, door pushes, collectors, car companies and automobiles, tobacco companies, and remained American collectibles up until the 1950s. Their popularity declined due to miscreants and wars.
Because they were destroyed, it is very rare to find authentic vintage porcelain signs to buy or sell. These signs were popular because they could be used as targets. The delicate porcelain and enamel was destroyed by shooters who also damaged many vintage signs. Many advertising collectibles and vintage porcelain signs were damaged and the metal, iron, and steel bases were melted for military use in World War II.
Types of Porcelain Signs
Signs come in many different sizes, color, and designs. Collectors of serious rare porcelain signs are known to find items from every category when looking to buy or sell. These are the most popular types of antique porcelain signs:
- Signs that had a single side were mounted on the wall.
- Signs that were two-sided and hung from brackets so that passersby could clearly read the information.
These antique porcelain signs advertised products such as tobacco and cigars, motor oil and lubricants, soda pops and automobile tires.
Vintage Porcelain Signs for Sale
The most sought-after items in the petroliana or automobilia niches to buy or sell are antique porcelain signs. A vintage porcelain sign tends to be most valuable from gas stations that have been closed down or brands of gasoline. Collectors of old signs also treasure quirky and unusual country store signs, which market everything from bread and meat to soda and candy. Collectors who are passionate about collecting antique signs from the railroad or highway are also very dedicated.
The most sought-after railroad signs to buy or sell for a collection are those from Union Pacific and Western Pacific lines, and the highway signs from California Auto Club. Signs that are smaller and more complex are more valuable than those with bolder designs. These signs are very rare, and authentic ones can be difficult to find.
How can you tell if a porcelain sign is real?
Some porcelain sign backs can be smooth or have texture, but a smooth back might make them look fake. Excepting some exception. The lining porcelain on the back is normally smaller than the front of vintage signs and is therefore most likely first to crack up.
Why did they stop making porcelain signs?
Before WWII, many porcelain signs lay around because their advertising didn’t exist anymore. After the war, the costs associated with old porcelain signs were just too expensive – the technique ceased to exist.
When were porcelain signs made?
A series and collection of vintage ceramic enamel signs crossed into the US in the 1890s from Europe to the USA. The technique was soon accepted by craftsmen and fabricators. They explored bold colors and different techniques and created new designs for these antique signs.
How do you value old signs?
The quality of the vintage signs is influenced largely by various aspects, including material – such as old porcelain signs, powdered glass, a metal sign, enamel signs, the condition, and where they came from – gas stations, oil companies, car companies, etc. Antique signs vary significantly when looking to buy or sell. If you are looking to buy or sell your old sign, contact Richmond Auctions today for a free appraisal.