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Reverse Painted Glass Insurance Sign

Antique Dutchess of Poughkeepsie NY Fire Insurance Reverse Painted Glass Sign
Located in Philadelphia, PA
Antique Dutchess of Poughkeepsie NY Fire insurance reverse painted glass advertisement sign. Item
Category

Antique 19th Century Victorian Signs

Materials

Glass, Oak

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Reverse Painted On Glass English Advertisement.
Located in Buchanan, MI
THE LANCASHIRE INSURANCE COMPANY OF MANCHESTER ENGLAND FRAMED SIGN. Reverse Painted Glass
Category

Antique 19th Century English Decorative Art

Materials

Gold, Vermeil, Silver

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Finding the Right signs for You

Vintage and antique signs are popular collector’s items loved not only for the charm and pops of color they add to a space but also for the unique story each one has to tell. An interesting sign can help set the mood for a room and spark dozens of lively conversations.

Before and during the 18th century, many European peasants and colonists in the Americas couldn’t read, so shopkeepers, in an effort to promote their goods and services, hung trade signs with limited amounts of text.

Indeed, symbols and representational physical objects comprised early-day advertising efforts. In lieu of painted words on a wooden board, trade signs made use of handmade three-dimensional symbols to indicate the function of the shop. The iconic red, white and blue pole could be found outside barbershops, while a figural trade sign mounted to an apothecary’s storefront might be a mortar and pestle sculpted from bronze in order to indicate to passers-by that inside there were apothecary cabinets full of remedies for common ailments and a druggist to carefully dispense them.

As literacy rates improved, signs evolved into rectangular, round or square shapes that featured text. Short and sweet, early iterations were characterized by a mere few words, such as “tavern,” “boarding room” or “apothecary.”

During the 19th century, proprietors endeavored to render their signs more appealing. This meant the introduction of more color, font types and other pictorial representations. After the Civil War ended, logos, branding and advertising became increasingly more important, and the design of signage evolved. Trade signs were still in use during the 20th century, and you will likely find hand-painted tin eyeglasses for an optometrist’s office or an oversize bowling pin that likely had a home in the front window of a bowling alley.

Today, collectors and art aficionados alike collect and display antique and vintage signs. Old signs hearken back to a long-gone era, infusing any interior with warmth and nostalgia.

A vintage sign can help anchor a room — think of decorating with signs as you would arranging any kind of wall art. A large-scale sign in particular can prove a distinguishing feature in a living room or dining room, a focal point so prominent that it might lessen the burden of introducing any additional decorative elements to this particular space. Smaller signs work wonders too — pepper sparsely decorated corners with small colorful signs or add a humorous or graphic element to your gallery-style hang with a small text-based sign or two.

On 1stDibs, find metal, wood and glass antique and vintage signs that span a number of styles, including mid-century modern, industrial and folk art.