What is our fascination with signs?
What is up lately with this massive fascination to antique and vintage signage? Porcelain signs, tin signs, wood signs, railroad signs, traffic signs. They are a hot collectible and the craze is here to stay. For some, preserving the past is important and that includes saving a bit of our American history in the way of signs and advertising.
We are intrigued by history as a whole and being able to collect and capture just a little bit of that history entices us to keep going. Many people are captivated by the personality that radiated through a sign’s once proud but long since neglected exteriors. Signs are an endangered species. They are a unique part of our American culture that seems to be disappearing very quickly.
Old signs are taken down and replaced by new plastic monstrosities that have no character or charm as their predecessors once did. The gap between the golden age of architectural design and what we have in present day continues to widen. Not every antique sign can be saved but when we have collectors and antique shops that cherish them, we can preserve a great many of them.
The old adage that they don’t make them like they use to is very apparent between vintage signs and new signs that lack creativity and character. Today signs are made using plastic and vinyl lettering to make banners that have taken over the sign industry. They are not made to last and they most likely will disappear as fast as the business that conjures it up.
Anyone who has Photoshop can pretend they are an artist and so the art of signage has lost its luster over the years. Back then, hand-painted billboards were a highly valued skill. Hand-painted signs made of porcelain and tin were a way to create a sign that was truly meant to last forever. America has seemed to lost its understanding of “built to last” not just in signage but in everything it seems. From automobiles to housing, nothing is made to last anymore. Trends change so quickly that if everything were made as it was during the golden age of industry, we wouldn’t be able to replace things so quickly to keep up with the changing times.
That is why protecting our history through signs or whatever interests you in the way of collecting relics, is an integral part of our past. The more we understand our past, the more we can look toward the future and understand what is important. Signs from just about every industry holds value among collectors and lucky for them, there is a sign for just about anything. Small tin signs that indicate where the bathroom is located to great big porcelain ones that advertise gas and food. No matter what the subject, they are all important to our nation’s history.
As long as there are people around who relish the past and want to keep history alive, there will always be a place for signage collecting. Visit your local antique shop, like Antique Allure, and find a sign that means something to you.