Vintage Neon Signs

vintage neon signs

Vintage neon signs are a classic form of art that have been around for decades. They are made from a combination of glass tubes filled with gas, which is then electrically charged to create a glowing effect. Neon signs are often used for business purposes, as they can be customized to fit any style or message you choose. They also make great decorative pieces in homes and offices. Neon signs can be found in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, making them perfect for any type of customization work you may need. Vintage neon signs can also be found at antique stores and flea markets, giving you the opportunity to add a unique and nostalgic touch to your home or office.

Vintage porcelain neon signs are among the most sought after and most expensive of all porcelain signs. Restaurant and shop owners want them displayed in their establishment, collectors love to show them off in their back room or garage to their friends, and many are still in use above businesses, hotels, and houses. These are porcelain signs with neon’s, which are electrified, luminous tube lights that contain rarefied neon or other gases. Many of these signs are found with the neon tubes missing. Most have the tubes intact. Either way these porcelain signs still bring a high price with many collectors.

neons  Union 76 Neon Round

Old Neon Signs: Collectible Artifacts

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of vintage neon signs. These collectible artifacts not only evoke nostalgia but also add a unique touch to any space in your home. Their vibrant colors and hand-crafted designs transport you to a bygone era, where neon signs illuminated the streets, beckoning patrons to diners, bars, and theaters.

In this journey through the history and allure of vintage neon signs, we’ll explore the artistry of hand-blown neon tubing, the various categories of antique neon signs, and the importance of preserving and restoring these captivating artifacts. Along the way, we’ll discover how to incorporate vintage neon signs into home decor and where to find and purchase these rare gems.

Key Takeaways

  • Vintage neon signs have a timeless appeal with their vibrant colors, unique designs and nostalgic charm.

  • Professional restoration services are essential for preserving antique neon signs to retain historical value and authenticity.

  • Incorporating vintage neon signs into home decor creates an impressive retro atmosphere that serves as both conversation starter and functional art piece.

The Allure of Vintage Neon Signs

A vintage neon sign with bright colors and glass tubes Sunoco Large Neon with Diagonal Arrow

Vintage neon signs have a magnetic charm that captivates collectors and enthusiasts alike. Their vibrant colors, unique designs, and nostalgic appeal make them a distinctive touch to any setting. Invented by French engineer Georges Claude in 1912, neon signs quickly became a popular advertising tool, long before the invention of LED signs. These signs reached their peak of popularity during the 1930s and 40s, known for their bright and eye-catching designs.

Often, these vintage neon signs are some of the few remaining artifacts of their kind, casting a nostalgic glow wherever they’re displayed. Collectors have a fondness for the aesthetic of the 1940s and 1950s, thus resulting in the continued popularity of vintage neon signs. The decline in the popularity of neon signs between the 1940s and 1960s was attributed to the association of such signs with unscrupulous businesses, but their allure remains strong today.

From seedy bars to puppy mills, vintage neon signs were a great addition to the decor of various establishments. Today, these antique neon signs are cherished collectibles that can brighten any room and spark conversation among guests. With a rich history and undeniable charm, vintage neon signs are a testament to the creative ingenuity of a bygone era.

The Artistry of Hand-Blown Neon Tubing

The intricate craftsmanship of hand-blown neon tubing makes these signs true works of art, exhibiting a remarkable level of artistry. To create these stunning pieces, master glass blowers must possess a unique set of skills, including working with molten glass, learning techniques specific to neon sign making, and cultivating self-discipline and attention to detail.

Soft lead glass tubes filled with neon and a pinch of argon gas form the building blocks of hand-blown neon signs. The process entails:

  1. Heating and shaping glass tubes to create intricate designs and shapes

  2. The unique and vibrant colors of neon adding to the artistic appeal of the finished product

  3. Regarded as unique works of art, these signs are commonly tailor-made.

The skill and dedication of the artisans crafting hand-blown neon signs are evinced by the time and effort they invest in these mesmerizing creations, which stand out even more when compared to common led lights or a standard led neon sign, making them the preferred choice of lights for many.

Categories of Antique Neon Signs

A collection of vintage neon signs showcasing various colors and designs Schmidt City Club Beer on Tap Neon

Antique neon signs can be categorized into various themes, such as automobilia, petroliana, and food and beverage. These themes represent different aspects of vintage culture, allowing collectors to focus on specific areas of interest. From automotive brands and gas stations to iconic food and beverage establishments, these signs offer a glimpse into the past, showcasing the advertising and design trends of their respective eras.

Each category of antique neon signs has its distinct characteristics and historical significance. Automobilia and petroliana neon signs evoke the nostalgia of classic cars and roadside attractions, while food and beverage neon signs showcase some of the most iconic brands and establishments from the past.

Let’s explore these categories further, unveiling the fascinating realm of vintage neon signs.

Automobilia and Petroliana Neon Signs

Automobilia neon signs feature designs inspired by classic car brands, gas stations, and other automotive-related themes, while petroliana neon signs are vintage signs that were utilized to advertise gas stations and petroleum-related products. Collectors find these signs to be highly desirable due to their representation of a nostalgic connection to the automobile and gas petrol industries.

Often linked to a past era of classic cars and roadside attractions, these signs exude a vintage charm. Collectors appreciate the unique designs, vibrant colors, and historical significance of these neon signs, making them sought-after items in the collector’s market. Notable designs associated with automobilia neon signs include classic car brands, gas stations, and check engine signs.

Food and Beverage Neon Signs

Food and beverage neon signs are luminous and retro signs employed to promote drinking venues, eateries, coffee shops, and other food and beverage establishments. These signs often employ vivid colors and customized shapes to represent food and drink items, making them highly visible and attractive to potential customers. Furthermore, neon signs have been a staple in the food and beverage industry for several decades, adding a nostalgic and vintage flair to the overall atmosphere.

Some renowned food and beverage vintage neon signs include Cafe & Diner Neon Signs, Outdoor Food & Drink Neon Signs, and Retro Food & Drink Signs. These signs have undergone an evolution over the years, adapting to reflect contemporary tastes and trends while still incorporating the traditional glass-blowing techniques that give them their unique charm.

Preserving and Restoring Vintage Neon Signs

A professional restoring a vintage neon sign in a store Edsel Ford Neon

Maintaining the value and functionality of vintage neon signs necessitates their preservation and restoration. Over time, these signs may experience various issues, including:

  • Transformer malfunctions

  • Exposure to inclement weather

  • Abrasion

  • Glass deterioration

Regular maintenance and restoration efforts can help keep these signs in top condition, ensuring that they continue to brighten any space and evoke nostalgia for years to come.

Working with certified professionals who specialize in neon sign repair and restoration is crucial for the proper preservation and restoration of vintage neon signs. These experts can address common issues, such as cleaning, conservation, and replacement of damaged components, ensuring that the sign remains authentic and retains its historical value.

Professional Restoration Services

Professional restoration services can help bring new life to old neon signs while preserving their authenticity. These services typically involve a multi-step process that includes:

  1. Diagnosis

  2. Safety precautions

  3. Extraction and cleaning

  4. Replacement of damaged components

  5. Restoration

The goal is to retain the original materials, colors, and design elements of the sign while ensuring its structural soundness and functionality.

The restoration process is usually directed by historical research and documentation to guarantee precision and authenticity. Working with professional restorers not only helps maintain the integrity of vintage neon signs but also ensures that they remain valuable and cherished collectibles for future generations to enjoy.

Incorporating Vintage Neon Signs into Home Decor

A man decorating a room with a retro neon sign   Shell Gasoline Die Cut with Neons

Incorporating vintage neon signs into home decor creates a retro atmosphere and serves as a conversation starter. Whether in home bar areas, living rooms, kitchens, or bedrooms, these signs can infuse any space with a touch of nostalgia and vintage charm, becoming an ideal focal point for decor.

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, vintage neon signs can also serve as functional pieces of art, providing a unique source of light and ambiance to your home. By integrating these signs into your home decor, you can evoke a sense of history and bring the captivating allure of vintage neon signs into your everyday life.

Creating a Retro Atmosphere

Retro-themed rooms and spaces can be enhanced with the addition of vintage neon signs, which impart a nostalgic sentiment and provide a unique aesthetic touch. These signs create a striking and cosmopolitan statement, enlivening the space and accentuating its structural elements. By incorporating vintage neon signs into your home decor, you can transport your guests back in time and immerse them in the captivating world of retro design.

Placing vintage neon signs at eye level or above the fireplace can be a practical and aesthetically pleasing option when trying to achieve a retro atmosphere. Their vivid hues and retro designs create a stunning visual impact that is sure to impress and delight both friends and family alike, making your home a truly memorable space.

Where to Find and Purchase Antique Neon Signs

A collection of vintage neon signs for sale in a shop Rexall Drugs Oval Neon

A variety of sources, including antique shops, flea markets, and online marketplaces, offer antique neon signs for purchase. These venues offer a range of vintage neon signs, allowing collectors to choose from a wide variety of themes, designs, and price points. Some reputable antique shops renowned for selling vintage neon signs include Road Relics, Man Cave Art Factory, Antique Sign Collector, and Urban Americana.

Researching and comparing options is crucial when hunting for the perfect vintage neon sign to enhance your collection or home decor. Vintage neon signs can range in price and rarity, making it essential to consider factors such as condition, age, and authenticity before making a purchase. By exploring various sources and taking the time to carefully assess each sign, you can find the perfect piece to enhance your collection or home decor.

Vintage Neon Signs for Sale

The price and rarity of vintage neon signs for sale can vary significantly, with rare, well-preserved signs commanding thousands of dollars. To find the best deals and ensure the authenticity of your purchase, it’s important to research and compare the various options available on the market.

Reputable online platforms to acquire vintage neon signs include:

  • eBay

  • Sketch & Etch

  • CanvasChamp

  • Custom Neon

  • Neon Signs Now

  • Yellowpop

  • Radikal Neon Signs

These platforms offer a wide range of retro neon signs, including vintage neon options, allowing collectors to find the perfect piece to suit their tastes and budget.

By carefully researching and comparing options, you can confidently purchase a vintage neon sign that will bring a touch of nostalgic charm to your home or collection.

Antique Neon Sign Appraisals

 A man appraising a unique antique neon sign  OWL Pharmacy Neon

Collectors can establish the value and authenticity of their vintage signs with the help of antique neon sign appraisals. By seeking the expertise of a professional appraiser who specializes in antique neon signs, collectors can gain a better understanding of the worth and genuineness of their prized possessions.

The appraisal process typically involves:

  • Providing pictures and measurements of the sign to the appraiser

  • The appraiser evaluating the quality and condition of the sign to calculate its value

  • Factors such as the condition, age, rarity, and authenticity of the sign affecting its value

By obtaining an accurate appraisal, collectors can ensure they are making informed decisions when buying, selling, or preserving their vintage neon signs.


Vintage neon signs are captivating collectibles that evoke nostalgia and add a unique touch to any space. Their allure lies in their vibrant colors, distinctive designs, and the intricate craftsmanship of hand-blown neon tubing, making them true works of art. By understanding the various categories of antique neon signs, such as automobilia, petroliana, and food and beverage, collectors can appreciate the rich history and significance of these fascinating artifacts.

Preserving and restoring vintage neon signs is essential to maintain their value and functionality, while incorporating them into home decor creates a retro atmosphere that transports guests back in time. By researching and comparing options, collectors can find and purchase the perfect vintage neon sign to enhance their collection or home. Embrace the charm and allure of vintage neon signs and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of these luminous artifacts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is my neon sign worth?

My neon sign could be worth between $200 and thousands of dollars, depending on its condition and the age of the sign. Mid-century signs are particularly valuable, with some from the 1950s or earlier being especially sought after.

What is the appeal of vintage neon signs?

Vintage neon signs evoke a sense of nostalgia and have a unique charm, making them the perfect addition to any setting.

How are hand-blown neon signs created?

Hand-blown neon signs are created by heating and shaping lead glass tubes, filling them with neon and argon gas, to create a beautiful, glowing display.

What are some examples of automobilia and petroliana neon signs?

Examples of automobilia neon signs include classic car brands and check engine signs, while petroliana neon signs feature vintage signs advertising gas stations and petroleum-related products.

How can I incorporate vintage neon signs into my home decor?

Create a retro atmosphere and conversation piece by incorporating vintage neon signs into your home decor; place them in bar areas, living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms.


Below are just a few examples of cool and collectible neon lights and signs.

View Our Entire Neon Signs Gallery and Directory HERE

Norge Household Appliances Double Sided Neon Milwaukee Gettelman Beer Neon

Lion Motor Oil Neon Round Gulf Supreme Motor Oil Neon

Goodyear Tires Diamond Neon Fox De Luxe Neon

Goodyear Tires Tire and Battery Service Neon GE Appliances Die Cut Neon

Gibson Refridgerators and Ranges Neon Massachusetts Electric New England Electric System Neon