Sign Collecting: A Beginners Guide

Signs of all kinds are sought after by collectors of all kinds. From history buffs, to car guys. Museums, or simply a residential kitchen. There are dozens of people and places in search of signage. The historic value and eclectic charm it provides is quite simply irresistible. Getting into the hobby can prove to be quite challenging and cost prohibitive however. So today we’ll go over some of the basics to help you build the collection of your dreams, without breaking the bank. But first, we’ll cover why sign collecting is such a popular hobby.

Why Do People Collect Signage?

Sign collecting does seem to be an odd hobby. It’s not most children’t answer to what they want to be when they grow up. But collecting signage has gripped the hearts of thousands of people around the world. And for good reason!

Historical Significance

Throughout history, Signs were not manufactured by sign companies as they are today. In fact until recently, signs were painted and embossed by hand. These trade workers, known as sign painters (so creative), worked hard to provide businesses large and small with all the signage that they could dream of. At the time, sign painting could earn you a respectable living, but the signs couldn’t command anywhere near the premiums they do today. These painters were experts in lettering and could turn anything you needed into a quality advertisement for your brand. Be it building, breadbox, or bottle, all hold the same potential as a canvas for their handiwork.

Nostalgic Appearance

With the invention of vinyl and large format printing the need for hand painted signage decreased, leading to nearly a complete removal of the trade from our society. This led to the initial interest in hand painted signs and is the root of the cost for many antique signs, hand painted or not. As the classic lettering became less mainstream commercially, and more vintage and nostalgic, their popularity as collectors items and decor increased dramatically. Today many of the world’s museums and homes use vintage signage to set the mood. But as time goes on and their collector value continues to increase, good specimens will only get harder to find. The following are some great tactics to get you started!

Join A Community

Like with almost anything else, a good part of the reason why you collect signs is to be a part of the community that surrounds it. With the COVID-19 crisis in full swing, many of these groups are becoming less local and more digital, keeping each other connected and finding gems without putting each other at risk. Many groups such as this one can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and many other social platforms. Here many will post about their recent discoveries, list peces of their collection for sale, and simply hold discussions on some of the best places to find classic and unique signage. Finding a good supportive group can be a huge help when looking to grow your own collection. Many of them were once in your shoes and looking for a good way to pick up a few of your favorite street names, or historical business memorabilia and will have invaluable advice on where to look and who to talk to.

Picking Up Your First Sign

Buying that first sign is a bit of a right of passage in sign collecting. It involves quite a bit of digging for just the right thing at just the right price. And as cool as it is, you may not find it hidden in some corner of an antique shop. One popular option is to simply wait around for traffic signs near you to be replaced and ask for the old ones but that requires quite a bit of patience. Another option employed by the less patient is to remove the street signs and take them regardless of whether or not they are being replaced. We would not recommend and do not endorse this course of action. If you are just dying to get your hands on a sign and can’t wait for the construction we’d recommend that you simply purchase one from a sign shop like capitol traffic services. The signs are quite affordable and you can have them manufacture not only any traffic sign you can think of, but any custom sign you could wish as well! There are many more options for purchasing custom signage as well that are listed in this article

Wherever you find that perfect sign for you, we wish you happy hunting!