Right this way for eight enamel signs to bid for on thesaleroom.com09 January 2020 Thanks to the continued popularity of industrial style and the eclectic look, vintage enamel advertising signs have become a strong niche collecting area.
The most desirable items, the stuff of a dream kitchen-diner or man cave, are now selling for four and occasionally even five figure sums.
There’s no right or wrong way to collect vintage signs. While there are some recognised rarities within the collecting field, the most appealing examples are simply those with the boldest colours and most arresting graphics. Treated as art, they brighten up a room. Some collectors specialise in a certain category (tobacco, food and drink and petrol-related signs are particularly popular) but others simply grasp whatever catches their eye within their budget. Some signs of wear and tear are to be expected (most signs have been exposed to the elements for half a century or more and many were discarded for scrap) but large areas of rust, severe fading and restoration are an important consideration with some collectors prepared to pay a premium for an otherwise relatively common sign in great condition. They are increasingly hard to come by.
Those simply hoping to create a ‘look’ might consider some of the many replica signs (some of them deliberately distressed) that are available at affordable sums. But reproductions should not be mistaken for the genuine article.
Pictured here are a selection of original signs available to buy on thesaleroom.com this month.
An enamel sign for McEwans Pilsner Beer ‘Brewed and Bottled in Scotland’ in excellent condition is £200-300 at Huntly Auctions in Turriff, Aberdeenshire, on January 28.
View and bid for this McEwans Pilsner Beer sign on thesaleroom.com.
This enamel sign for the Old Calabar Dog Biscuit and Food Company of Liverpool is estimated at £80-100 at Philip Serrell in Malvern on January 16.
View and bid for this Old Calabar Dog Biscuit sign on thesaleroom.com.
Although estimated at just £40-60, expect to pay much more for this scarce 1930s sign for the Irish firm Swarc Motor Oils at Rowley’s of Ely on January 11.
View and bid for this Swarc Motor Oils sign on thesaleroom.com.
Good Shoes Deserve Puritan Leather Soles, one of three examples of this sign for sale at 1818 Auctioneers in Milnthorpe, Cumbria on January 14, estimate £80-120. The Puritan Tanneries in Runcorn traded from 1926-66.
View and bid for this Puritan Tanneries sign on thesaleroom.com.
Sunlight Soap, the world's first packaged and branded laundry soap introduced by Lever Brothers in 1884, benefitted from a strong brand identity. This blue and yellow enamel pictorial sign advertising the brand’s famous £1000 Guarantee of Purity has an estimate of £150-200 at Special Auction Services in Newbury on January 14.
View and bid for this Sunlight Soap Sign on thesaleroom.com.
This version of a well-known ‘cup and saucer’ sign made for Nectar Tea by the Patent Enamel Co. of Birmingham and London, c.1910 has an estimate of £120-150 at Special Auction Services in Newbury on January 14.
View and bid for this Nectar Tea sign on thesaleroom.com.
This classic man cave object, a large example of the Union Jack BP Motor Spirit sign made by The Falkirk Iron Co Ltd, has an estimate of £400-600 at Special Auction Services in Newbury on January 14.
View and bid for this BP Motor Spirit sign on thesaleroom.com.