It’s the Little Things . . . Catalogs, materials and even the shirts “off their backs”

6 February

Taken from Founder Tod Swormstedt’s column in Signs of the Times, December 2012.

While signs dominate the minds of most museum visitors, storefront window items really tell the story. Three different collections of “smalls” recently donated by the industry are finding their way to window displays.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first collection comprises vintage tins of sign materials and a box of gold “flitters” donated by Dan Cameron (Custom Signs Unlimited, Ft. Wayne, IN). Give an assist to Ben Van Houten (Wensco, Grand Rapids, MI), who told Cameron about the museum. In addition to the “flitters,” items included vintage cans of Globe Black Elastiseal Varnish, United States Bronze aluminum powder, Rich Art powdered wood charcoal, Chromatone metallic pigment, and two cans of Acme Display Arts bulletin color.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second collection was donated by Woodrow Carpenter, whose name is synonymous with the porcelain-enamel industry. He founded the W.W. Carpenter Enamel Foundation, which offers classes in enameling and a porcelain-enamel museum in Bellevue, KY. Carpenter donated a 1937 softbound pricelist entitled, “Standard List Prices for Vitreous Porcelain Enameled Iron Signs” and two vintage brochures from the former Cincinnati-based Barrows Porcelain Enamel Co., in addition to numerous photocopied articles on enameling.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe third collection bears the well-known name of Federal Sign, which celebrated its centennial at the turn of the 21th Century. The three Federal Sign shirt uniforms were originally worn by their donor, Denny Livengood (Henderson, NV). The retired Livengood logged 46 years in the sign business, beginning in 1958 with Multilight Broadway Neon (Portland, OR). He began as a sign-hanger apprentice and earned his journeyman license in 1962. He joined Electrical Products Co. just as it was being purchased by Federal Sign and Signal. Livengood stayed with Federal for 15 years until it sold its holdings to Ad Art. In 1986, Federal re-opened in Dublin, CA, and called back veterans like Livengood. He finished his career at Federal and retired in 2004.

Do you have an item that helps tell the story of signs? Something you would like to share with the world and see immortalized in THE American Sign Museum? Contact us about it. We’d love to hear from you.

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