Before the days of television, even radio, advertising signage was a key component used by merchants and manufacturers to market their products and services. Many of those unique messages have been forever captured on vintage metal signs. Whether a metal sign is truly a vintage collectible or a fine quality reproduction, collecting vintage metal signs has never been more popular. For anyone interested in nostalgic metal signs, there are dozens are of choices available to satisfy most every area of interest.
Vintage metal signs have proven to be quite durable, often outlasting the products or companies they were intended to promote. Most metal and tin signs were painted using enamels paints. High quality metal signs often used a porcelain overcoat. Old tin signs that show signs of rust should never be refinished, even though signs in better condition are worth more. A little rust may devalue the sign just a bit, but the nostalgic value is priceless. As with any antique or collectible, the savvy collector must be able to identify old metal signs.
Even in this age of digital communication and truly mass media, the ubiquitous metal advertising sign is still used to promote a message or product. Metal signs can still be seen everywhere we go. While their use as an advertising medium has diminished over the years, they remain a popular reminder of days gone by.
Today we are bombarded by advertising messages in the form of billboards, neon signs and other media. No substitute exists for the level of imagination and artistry that went into producing metal signs. Slogans and imagery used on metal signs are still used today to carry the message of a brand. In the cookie cutter world of advertising today, the vintage metal sign can take us back to a time of whimsy, art and nostalgia.
Farm Equipment Metal Signs
For the farmer, the choice of equipment could mean the difference between time spent in the field or time spent fixing a tractor. Farm equipment makers like John Deere, Ford, International Harvester and Allis Chalmers all used metal signs to promote their products. Although tractors were often the most common subject for farm equipment metal signs, balers, plows and other farming needs were marketed in the same way.
In the days when the rural feed store or local farmers Grange hall were popular gathering places, metal advertising signs could be seen everywhere. It is said that farmers were sometimes paid to display metal signs promoting a brand of tractor, feed, crop seeds and other farming staples.
Railroad Metal Signs
In the days when the iron horse ruled the world of mass transit, metal railroad signs were everywhere. Railroad lines across the country used metal signs to adorn everything from locomotives to train cars. Metal railroad signs could be found on railway platforms, in train stations and railroad yards.
Before the development of commercial air travel and a reliable system of interstate highways, trains allowed people and freight to crisscross the country. During the golden age of train travel, riders often had all of the comforts of home available. Many trains had bar cars, traveling saloons where the traveling gentry would congregate to imbibe, play cards and commiserate. Dining and sleeping cars offered a level of comfort and service that is unrivaled even today.
The heyday of train travel has long been over, but the nostalgia for that bygone era can be relived in collectible vintage railroad signs.
Oil and Gasoline Company Metal Signs
Just as train travel fell to other means of transportation, the automobile has remained a popular way for people to get from one place to another. As sales of cars and trucks rose, so did the need for fuel and lubricates. Once again, the metal sign became the advertising and promotional medium of choice for oil companies and gasoline stations. Famous gasoline brands were created using logos and signage that were recognizable wherever people traveled. Famous symbols like the Sinclair Dinosaur, the Texaco Star and the Shell Oil Sea Shell, are examples of branding made famous by the use of metal signs.
Oil and gas company metal signs are among the most sought after by collectors of vintage metal signs.
Food and Beverages Tin Signs
No other genre of vintage metal sign is more popular then those used to advertise food and beverages. This level of popularity is driven primarily by the demand for everything Coca Cola. Still one of those most recognizable brand names in the world, vintage metal Coca Cola signs were among the most clever and well produced of collectible signs. Other brands that captured the beverage market included Dr. Pepper, Seven Up and the now defunct Nehi brand. Even quality reproductions of these popular food and beverage metal signs are valuable by collectors and metal sign enthusiasts.
The Great Outdoors Tin Signs
Sporting goods companies have a long history of using the beauty of nature to promote their products. Vintage metal signs featuring the theme of the great outdoors appealing to hunters and fishing enthusiasts range from nature scenes to humorous metal signs depicting human interactions with the animal kingdom. Like many other types of collectible metal and tin signs, companies such as Remington Arms and Field and Stream turned to artists who highlighted the beauty and majesty of nature.
Hunting and fishing were not the only themes immortalized in great outdoors signs. Outdoor activities like camping, hiking and boating were widely used to promote everything from canoes and tents to hiking boots and games stamps.
Illustrators Tin Signs
Works of some the most talented artists and illustrators were often the subject of vintage metal signs. Some of the most recognizable images can be found on both vintage and reproduction metal sign. The beautiful work of artists like Lynn Kaatz, though mostly available as prints, has graced illustrated metal signs for many years. From her depictions of animals, landscapes and pure Americana, Kaatz captured the spirit of what is now a lost art in advertising.
Aviation Tin Signs
The golden age of flight was recreated in many different types of metal aviation signs. Famous airlines like Piedmont, also known as Blue Goose and other familiar names like American Airlines, Northwest and Piper can still be found gracing aviation metal signs.
Fans of auto racing, college and professional sports can find a wide variety of metal signs that represent their favorite sport or team. Many collectors of vintage metal and tin signs are drawn to the nostalgia of an age when art and creativity reigned supreme in promotion and advertising. Whatever reason you have for collecting metal and tin signs, the selection of vintage and reproduction signs is at your fingertips through many online shopping sites.