HOW DO PEOPLE COLLECT PORCELAIN SIGNS?
You can collect however and whatever you want. I most frequently see people focus on three different types of collecting. There are subject collectors, brand collectors, and style collectors. Some of the most common subjects to collect are tobacciana, transportation, soda, and general country store. A porcelain sign collector who only buys one brand is typically going to focus on a brand where there is a lot to collect. Popular examples are of course Coca-Cola and Pepsi. John Deere, Ford, Chevrolet, etc are also popular single brand collectibles. Style collectors buy porcelain sign from all areas, but they limit themselves to just one style. So someone might only buy neons, only door pushes, or only 72 inch signs. There is definitely no right or wrong way to collect. I personally collect across all subjects, brands, and styles. I do have smaller focus areas within my collection, but everything is on my radar.
WHAT IS THE SCARIEST THING FOR PORCELAIN SIGN COLLECTORS?
Porcelain sign collectors are by far the most concerned about the possibility of buying fakes. Small items like door pushes are very easily faked. The same scammers focus on popular signs in the $400 – $2,000 range that are already common. For example, you can’t get away copying a sign that is normally worth $25,000. Collectors are very cautious when it comes to that price point. However, it is much easier to have someone in China make 500 signs worth $600 each. People are less discerning and will take the risk. The ultimate problem is that it is usually new collectors who end up buying fakes. Once they realize they have been buying fakes then they are quick to exit the hobby. We really need an affordable and efficient service that will authenticate signs. Besides fakes, you have to be at least somewhat wary of restored signs.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO SELL A PORCELAIN SIGN?
Your selling options are directly related to the size and value of the sign. There are problems with many venues. Signs often sell for a fractional of their real value on eBay because people are worried about reproductions and outright scams. There are some auction houses that specialize in advertising memorabilia, but they usually want 30% to sell and they only take signs that are really valuable. I won’t even mention the inherent problems with Craigslist and local flea markets. There are porcelain sign collectors scattered throughout the country. I personally know collectors in just about every state and major metropolitan area. Start locally before you try out another venue. Just keep in mind that many local collectors have a limit to their knowledge and ability to spend money.
Factors that Don’t Determine the Value of a Collectible Sign
Age: Many people I talk to get hung up on the age of the sign they have and how old it is exactly. While this might be nice to know, it really doesn’t affect the value in a significant way, if you have two of the exact same sign and one is 5 years or 10 years older than the other, they still have the same value to collectors. Collectors are after signs for the display factor and how they look for the most part. The date of a sign can be helpful in authenticating it, but usually it’s easier to authenticate a sign by looking at other features.
Entry Level Collectible Signs
Entry Level Signs usually sell for less than $300 each and many can be found for less. Almost all entry-level signs are common and easily available on eBay to anyone interested or maybe less common but were made later in the ’60s or later. I also include in this category, lower condition signs of mid-level rarity. Entry-level signs also include generic signs like No Trespassing, Fire Exit, Stop Signs, and other similar items that wouldn’t have been used for advertising purposes.
Mid Level Collectible Signs
Mid Level Signs usually sell for $300-1000 and include signs that are somewhat scarce, have moderate demand, or for whatever reason collectors are willing to pay elevated prices for. If your sign is at least 30″ and in good condition, it probably qualifies as a mid-level sign, if it is from a good brand. Many of the signs pictured on PorcelainSigns.com are mid-level signs, though we do have images of many high-level signs as well. Signs in this range are especially condition-dependent, small edge chips and chips around grommets won’t do too much damage to a sign’s value, but gunshots, rust, and other damage to the main field of the sign will have a dramatic impact on value since these signs aren’t terribly rare and collectors are always willing to pay for top condition signs.
High-End Collectible Signs
High-End Collectible Signs are those that advanced, experienced, and wealthy collectors are actively looking for. This usually means that these signs are fairly rare and don’t come up for sale often, but sometimes it just means that the sign is really cool and people are willing to spend a lot of money on one. This combination of rarity and demand drives prices up into the thousands of dollars for high-level signs in today’s market with the rarest and best condition signs bringing prices as high as $50,000 in some cases. To bring top prices signs need to be in excellent condition without areas of damage or rust, without fading, bends or other defects and preferable with a nice shine or luster to the surface of the sign.