Submitted by Museum founder, Tod Swormstedt
Although the majority of our investments have gone to capital expenditures like the roof, we have been able to make a few new acquisitions: two purchases and a third donation, which we found the money to restore.
“Texas Wieners” was a great find in its near-pristine condition. The sign is a great example of one of a handful of styles of production signs manufactured by Superior Outdoor Display, Inc. of Long Beach, CA beginning in the late 1950s. They were sold by traveling salesmen who had no specific territory: They simply took an order and the 50% down payment, together with the copy to be added in the plastic faces, and mailed the order to California. A few weeks later, the sign arrived C.O.D. for the 50% balance. The purchaser was left to install the sign themselves.
Most of these signs have not survived, although the rusted remnants of these can often be found hanging from the nearby poles or storefronts of abandoned businesses. This particular sign is again, in near-perfect condition. It was purchased at the Coin-Op show in St. Charles, IL back in the late fall, from an East Coast dealer who had bought it from the business owner who had purchased the sign. The sign was never installed: Once it arrived, the purchaser was told the flashing sign did not meet the local small town Connecticut sign code, so it sat for probably 30+ years. We’re glad to have acquired such a fine example of a type of sign that once proliferated across the USA.
The 4-ft. “Sherwin Williams” point-of-purchase sign may have been a production model, but more likely was a custom design, according to our go-to expert, Dave Greene. “I’ve never seen one of these in my 40 years of collecting,” says Greene. “It’s got a tremendous amount of glass for a production sign and would have been very expensive to produce.” Indeed, the donated sign required about 75% of its glass being replaced, but we thought it was worthwhile to restore it. The chipboard face appears to have been screenprinted in three colors against the white background. A clear plastic protective front protects the glass. The sign was donated by Rich Martin of Greendale, IN.
The third new acquisition is one of my favorite types of objects: A salesman’s sample made all the more special because it is custom-made and sports the sign company name. Although difficult to how in a photo, the sign is a motorized, scale model tri-vision display of the type of outdoor boards common in the 1930s – 1950s. This particular model not only has the changing horizontal panels, but a vertical panel to the right which also changes in three phases.
Manufactured and used by the Triple Sign Company of Seattle, the piece came with its original carrying case. The graphics places the model in probably the mid-1950s. It was purchased at the most recent Antique Advertising Show held twice a year at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds.