Introduction to Collecting Porcelain Signs

If you are considering buying or selling a vintage porcelain sign then you probably have a lot of questions, like is this sign even porcelain? Is my sign authentic? What is my sign worth? Where can I sell my sign? We can help answer any questions related to vintage porcelain signs. Please read our guide to learn the basics about collecting signs. As a dealer, I have seen pretty much everything there is to see. I would be happy to share my knowledge with you.

Vintage Sign Materials

We sometimes hear non-collectors refer to any old or vintage sign as a porcelain sign. Porcelain is not a generic adjective; it is a specific material. Porcelain isn’t even the most common material used on vintage signs. However, it is generally considered to be the most attractive and porcelain signs are going to be worth more than signs made of other materials. We see some old wood signs. However, people most often get embossed tin and painted steel signs confused with vintage porcelain signs. Tin signs and especially painted signs tend to show wear and use. Porcelain is very hard and it could take a beating and wipe clean. The problem with porcelain is that it chips, and once chipped it can start to rust and deteriorate. Old porcelain signs are heavy. There should be some contour to each side. Letters are usually raised above the field of the sign. Embossed tin signs are usually one sided. The non-display side clearly shows where the design is punched in.  Painted steel signs are a little bit more deceptive, but close examination clearly shows the paint and flat surface.

Reproductions of Vintage Porcelain Signs

If you are a new collector then we know you are worried about buying fakes and reproductions. The sad truth is that there are a bunch of fakes out there. Sometimes they just can’t be avoided. Our advice is to try and work with a seasoned collector or dealer who can tell the difference between a vintage sign and one that was made in China two months ago. We do have a guide specifically about fake and real porcelain signs. We would say that 99.9% of the signs listed on our site are old and authentic. We would say 100%, but we haven’t personally handled all of the signs. Authentic and vintage porcelain signs are everywhere; and the fakes are in those exact same places as the real ones.

Value of Vintage Porcelain Signs

There was a time when $200 went a long way in the sign collecting hobby. However, we are long past the days where all you needed was a pickup truck and twenty dollar bills. Old porcelain signs can be worth big money. The confusing thing for most sellers is trying to wade through a sea of information where a seemingly similar sign can sell for $3,000 or $300 or any given day. Condition is extremely important. We are showing four different signs below. Look at the huge range in price. This is why you need to work with a qualified dealer when you sell. The wrong people can make you think you have something cheap when it is actually very valuable.

We are showing four Magnolia signs. Hundreds of these signs exist and they are frequently for sale in today’s market. One is absolutely mint and is as nice as you will ever see. Most collectors would rather have the lightly used sign. You get a lot of eye appeal for a fraction of the unused sign price. If you are on a budget or just like things that look old, then you can buy the sign with rust and lots of chipping. We included a reproduction for good measure.

Besides condition, you need to consider the overall appeal of the sign. Why would a collector want to buy this sign? Are the color and graphics especially interesting? Is the sign for a popular brand (think Coke, Ford, etc)? Does the sign make an impressive display or is it especially easy to transport? There are no tricks to know what a vintage porcelain sign should be worth. You just need a little bit of experience and a good eye. For more information, check out our resource on how to value a porcelain sign.

Places to Buy & Sell Vintage Porcelain Signs

If you want to sell an old coin then you go to a coin shop. If you want to collect art then you go to a gallery. But where do you go if you want to collect vintage signs? Our best advice it to meet people and make connections. The most impressive and best signs are never on ebay or antique malls. They trade hands between the people who love and collectible vintage porcelain signs. The best part is that people in this hobby are very knowledgeable and welcoming. Never be afraid to ask for advice or consult an expert.

I appraise all types of signs, including:

I provide free opinions and would be happy to let you know more about your sign. Just send me an email with pictures of the sign and I will respond back quickly. Thanks