The most valuable and most expensive types of antique advertising items are almost always signs. Antique signs have a way of capturing our attention and making us open our checkbooks unlike any other field of advertising. We have hundreds of antique signs in our price and value database. The one drawback to signs is that many are easy to copy and reproduce. You want to work with experts (like us) if you are attempting to value and authenticate a sign.
Our price guide has several different types of signs. We have values and pictures for porcelain signs, lithograph signs, trade signs, glass signs, and more.
Porcelain Signs: Antique porcelain signs are quickly becoming one of the hottest areas across all fields of collectibles. Thanks to shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars the general public is finally learning what we collectors have known for years, porcelain signs are cool! Porcelain signs are also extremely durable and mass produced. That means two things. Nothing is truly unique and condition is extremely important. Antique porcelain signs are closely associated with things like gasoline, cars, tobacco, and general retail advertising. A lot of these signs end up in garages and man caves. One thing that makes porcelain signs so desirable is that many of the brands that advertising on porcelain back in the 1930s are still around today.
Antique porcelain signs also come in all shapes and sizes. There are the monster neon signs that can be twenty feet long. Then there are the smaller door pushes, and pretty much everything in between. Valuing an antique porcelain sign comes down to rarity, size, condition, brand, and color. If you get the right combination then the sign could be worth thousands of dollars.
Lithograph Signs: Antique lithograph signs are not necessarily the most popular signs in today’s market, but some can be very valuable. Lithographs are most often found on tin or paper. They were typically used from the 1870s to the very early 1900s. One reason that lithograph signs are rare today is because they were not physically built to stand the test of time. The paper examples are especially vulnerable to damage. The tin signs are easily scratched or rusted out. Rare and valuable lithograph signs are going to be in excellent condition, still have great color, and be on a problem free surface.
Trade Signs: Antique trade signs were used by specialty businesses (usually service related) like jewelers, barbers, or craftsmen. Their trade sign would hang in their window or above their door so that it was visible from the sidewalk. Every trade sign will be unique. Most are handcrafted out of wood. Provenance is especially important with these types of antique signs. A generic barber sign might be worth $200. However, if you can trace that same sign back to a particular barber and know the town and barber’s name then $200 might turn into $2,000. The promoted business also affects the value of the sign. There are plenty of barber signs out there. However, there are very few signs related to region professions like trading, importing and exporting, etc. Trade signs cross over to folk art in a way. It is not unusual for folk art collectors to see a trade sign as a piece of art and less of an advertisement.
Glass Signs: Antique glass signs have a special place in today’s market. Most glass signs are closely associated with breweriana or other beverages. The typical sign is a piece of glass with a frame and a hand painted advertisement. Glass signs are few and far between. Out of all the types of antique signs we have discussed, glass signs are by far the most fragile. Not many were originally produced, and most have been lost or destroyed.
There are other types of antique signs that we have not described above. If you have any questions about your sign, then please contact us. We are experts in the field and we would be happy to tell you what your sign is worth. We are available 24/7 via email. Just send us a few pictures of your sign and we can give you a free appraisal and make an offer.