Porcelain Sign Collector Dale Fenton Talks Collecting

Porcelain Sign Collector FAQs

Over my collecting career I have been interviewed by several magazines and news stations related to my porcelain sign collection.  I thought I would share some of the more common and interesting questions I have received.  As always, please remember that I am very interested in buying your porcelain sign, no matter what part of the country you are in.  Thanks – Dale@PorcelainSigns.com

What Is The Most You Have Paid For A Porcelain Sign?

As a porcelain sign collector, if I see something I like and it is also high grade and rare, then I will pay whatever it takes to buy it.  There are two or three signs in my collection that I have paid more than $25,000 for.  There are another 20 or so that cost me more than $10,000.  There are some occasions where you have to ask yourself would have rather have a stack of money in the bank that you will never see, or would you rather have something you can look at and enjoy every day (that will also hopefully retain its value).  No matter what type of collector you are, you can understand that logic.  My collection brings a lot of joy and pride to my life that having a larger bank account would not.

What Is Your Favorite Porcelain Sign?

It is difficult to pick just one favorite sign.  The answer to that question really just depends on what day of the week you ask me.  When I was a younger collector I was really into oil and automobile related signs.  Of course that was also when I really liked fast cars and road trips.  Once I got a little bit older I felt myself being drawn to household brands and country store signs.  Today I would probably describe myself as a porcelain sign collector who focuses on collecting history by buying advertising art.  I am still open to buying any sign at any moment.  However, I specifically really like porcelain signs that are railroad related or tie into a local geography (not just my local geography).  The reality is that 95% of my sign collection doesn’t fit into my main interest.  So it is always nice to buy something or trade with another porcelain sign collector to get a special sign I wouldn’t see otherwise.  To directly answer the question, right now my favorite sign is the Santa Fe Scout.  It is also one of my most recent additions.  Asking collectors what their favorite sign is would be like asking parents who their favorite child is.  The answer is that it rotates, but I love all of them (just occasionally some more than others).

How Does A Porcelain Sign Collector Know What A Sign Is Worth?

This is probably the question I get asked most by people who are not porcelain sign collectors.  What makes one sign worth $100 and another sign worth $10,000?  There is a very long answer to that question.  I can tell the basics here.  Think of a sign as having three value factors.  Porcelain sign collectors want something with great graphics and an interesting subject matter, that is also in like new collection.  Even common signs that hit all three of those targets could be worth $1,000.  Now, if you hit those same three points on a rare porcelain sign, then the value could be several thousand dollars.  It is basically just supply and demand combined with condition.  You will notice that I didn’t say anything about age.  Older isn’t always better.

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.

I will take this chance to once again say that I am available to look at any porcelain sign and tell you if it is authentic and what it is worth.  I am also a buyer a large majority of the time.  Just contact me via email with pictures of your sign and I would be happy to help.

Dale@PorcelainSigns.com

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