Vintage and Retro Advertising

We like what we like and so do you, and we hope to have items that you like in this broad collection. Whether your heart’s desire is for vintage advertising signs and posters or retail display signs and point-of-sale advertising items we will try to accommodate you. A lovely form of art, everybody surely likes a vintage ad sign with style in their life. Be that a unique painted tin or original enamel, although there are many for sale, not everyone has the space on their home walls. If you are a reseller, we think that they may be slightly past the peak of the market. As with everything we do we search out the quirky for you, including interesting things like Letterpress advertising stamps used by newspaper printers. 

Feel at ease browsing our collection or placing an order here. Whether for yourself or as a gift, you're in the right place to add to your collection. Please do call back regularly to check what has changed in this collection.

A History of vintage advertising signs How to tell if vintage signage for sale is old?
A History of vintage advertising signs

When did original vintage advertising signage start? 

Old vintage advertising signs began to become common following the patenting of an enamel process by Benjamin Baugh in Birmingham in 1859. This enabled the application of enamel (glass) in bright colours to metal. Within 20 years there were upwards of 15 manufacturers of such signage in and around Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

Antique advertising signs become commonplace 

Pre-1900 most signs were white with blue writing and logos to keep costs down (each enamel colour is a separate firing). Post 1900 and with the advent of the motor vehicle, the need for signs grew and they were everywhere. Interestingly though, due to the costs, they tended to remain fairly generic, so Coleman’s English Mustard, rather than anything more complex. This ensured the longevity of the message and more value for money. When garages and petrol advertising became competitive, there was a far greater proliferation of signage.

Changes in materials over time 

Over the 20th Century iron signs became steel, then tin, then aluminium. The majority of signs for sale today are vintage tin advertising signs. In design terms, as the tin-coated rolled steel to be enamelled became thinner and more likely to bend, the bending could crack the enamel and lead to rust. This is usually apparent around any screw holes.

Advertising signage changed later on to printed steel and as with most things, thence to plastic.


How to tell if vintage signage for sale is old?

There are no hard and fast rules but here are some pointers for you:

  • If the sign is very heavy it is likely to be cast metal and probably older

  • If it is enamelled on both sides it is probably older, as enamelling on both sides quickly became a cost issue and was discontinued.

  • If it is light and flexible, enamelled and has no damage or chips or rust at all, it is probably not an original.

  • An old single-sided item should have some drips or runs of enamel to the rear.

  • Ask yourself “Was this brand around in the time period of this type of sign?”. For example, if you saw a sign advertised as an antique tin MacDonald's advertising sign, would you believe it to be real?

  • As with a lot of collectables, the more rare the item is (and therefore more valuable), the more likely that it will be a fake.

If you like this quality selection and would like to look at some other second hand Eclectica-related products, please take a look at the rest of our Eclectica here - it's easy to browse and select. If you would like further information or product detail about our specific vintage design items, don't hesitate to contact us.