Vintage advertising signs have been popular since the turn of this century with prices steadily increasing. The current auction record for a British enamel sign stands at a staggering £28,000 + BP.
Whilst forms of advertising can be found dating back to ancient Greece and ancient Rome, the examples we see coming up for sale at auction tend to be from the early 1900s to mid-20th century and predominantly take the form of enamel, tin or perspex signs.
The world of advertising is a multi-billion-pound industry that we are exposed to daily. Whether we know it or not we are constantly being targeted as consumers via algorithms, product placement or subliminally. Many people, including myself, have a memory of a logo that is triggered when seen, such as the Coca-Cola Christmas advert – Holidays Are Coming. Making a memorable advert or sign is the ultimate goal as this inevitably leads to the potential purchase of that product over another.
Vintage advertising signs rely on vibrant colours, bold designs, catchy slogans, and cool graphics, all of which are still extremely relevant today. Many industries utilised these eye-catching signs none more so than the motor industry. Signs promoting oil, motorcars and tyres are highly collectable and extremely varied in terms of size, designs and colour palette.
Examples by household brands such as Michelin, Goodyear, Duckhams, Shell and the Automobile Association have all passed through our salerooms in recent years and are fiercely competed for by collectors of motoring paraphernalia.
Other products that can be found on advertising signs gracing our vintage auctions include cigarettes and tobacco, photography, soaps, confectionary, sewing and fizzy drinks. A recent favourite of ours was a green and red enamel sign advertising Singer Sewing Machines. Realising £340 + BP it achieved a far greater sum than the treadle sewing machines they depict now sell for.
It would be remiss of us to not talk a little about condition and originality of vintage signs. As with all antiques condition and value are linked. There is some allowance for minor rust, surface wear and loss. This is in part a result of the understanding that these signs were often utilised outdoors resulting in exposure to the elements and therefore a weathered appearance. However, as always, the better and more pristine the condition the higher the value that can be achieved.
The fashion currently for industrial furnishings and the demand for originality has also allowed for a softening of an often unrealistic expectation for items to be in perfect condition as if they had just been made. Items showing their age and patina have an appeal and charm only years of handling and existence can create. There are also lots of reproduction signs on the market and potential buyers need to be cautious when purchasing examples. We as auctioneers provide full condition reports and images and are experienced in assessing the originality of all manner of antiques and collectables.
Below are a selection of the attractive advertising signs sold at our salerooms in the recent auctions with prices noted.
Advertising signs can be valued free of charge without obligation. Please contact:
North Wales - Stephen Roberts email@example.com
South Wales - Philip Keith firstname.lastname@example.org
West Wales - Charles Hampshire email@example.com