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4 Historic Business Signs that Are Still Relevant Today

// Angela Higbee // August 16, 2016 //

Historic Business Signs Have Shaped Today’s Market.

Through the years, signs have evolved from basic markers to an integral part of any company’s advertising strategy. They were once very expensive, but now they’re affordable, diverse, and effective. Although they’ve changed over the years, some historic business signs have influenced modern marketing and advertising more than we realize.

Let’s take a look at just how that happened:

1. Images and Symbols:

Because many people couldn’t read between the 14th and 18th centuries, shop signs were almost always symbols. Locksmiths used keys, bibles were synonymous with booksellers, and pawnbrokers used three golden balls, as shown here. Many of these symbols are still used today!

2. Packard Chooses Neon:

Neon signs originated in France, and were rumored to be used in Paris as early as 1914. The first record of a neon sign in the United States was in 1922. It was imported from Paris, France by Earl Anthony for Packard Agency in Los Angeles, California. One sign cost about $1,250 and only displayed the word “Packard.” He ordered two of them, and sent the other one to his office in San Francisco.

3. Vegas Vic is Born:

Neon signs developed from simple advertising tactics into artistic and colorful branding tools in a very short amount of time. Vegas Vic was made in 1951 by the Young Electric Sign Company for the Pioneer Club in Las Vegas. Multiple colors and patterns show just how intricate neon signs became in only 30 years. “Vic” stood 40 feet tall – that’s a lot of florescent tubing to maintain! Signs like this were leased out with maintenance agreements from sign companies to keep the lighting working for many years. Although we rarely see large-scale neons like this today, it’s safe to argue that the “think big” mentality from this age has translated into the large digital banners of today.

4. Metal isn’t Everything:

By the late 1900’s, two world wars had created a shortage of metal and other materials necessary to craft signs. This was obviously a huge problem for the sign industry, which had just begun to blossom. But necessity is the mother of invention, and sign companies innovated new ways to use acrylic and plastic for signage rather than metal. These new signs did not require a lot of upkeep, so maintenance leases became less popular. Neon signs fell into disuse quickly, and they were replaced by easier signs like the one pictured outside Domi Nick’s Pizza in 1960. Today, 95% of signs are made of plastic.
Signs have been an integral part of business from the beginning. The changes that time has brought us since the early days of marketing has created an incredible number of sign and advertising options for businesses in all industries. Without advancements like the lightbulb or affordable plastic and acrylic manufacturing, there is no telling where we would be today.

Needless to say, historic business signs have helped to shape history – how will modern signage shape your company today?

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