Flea markets are filled with vintage signs and advertisements of all kinds. These little bits of history are popular in design because of the sense of nostalgia they evoke—a particular brand or logo might carry special value for a particular buyer. (But to score the best price, I wouldn’t tell the seller of my attachment, since flea market shopping is all about negotiation.) Read on to discover different types of signs and tips for finding the right one for you.
Mom-and-pop shop signage is some of the most collectable around. Unrecognizable brands make locality a non-issue. This ambiguous signage is a conversation starter.
Tip: Value tends to be higher for signs that are visually appealing. This clean, vibrant and rust-free look is highly coveted.
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A cool cafe sign provides a splash of saturated color in this living room. A sign with neon lighting can be a bit tricky to come by, and you’ll find yourself spending a few hundred dollars for one, depending on where you shop. If you find one at a good price and in good condition, consider scooping it up.
Fun fact: The first neon signs were introduced in 1912.
Wood market signs are often harder to find than metal shop signs because they’re more likely to have decomposed or been destroyed by fire over the years. Accordingly, they tend to command more.
Tip: Check regularly, even every weekend, to see what new items local vendors are offering. The more you go, the more you increase your odds of finding that perfect item.
Related: Flea Market Finds: Vintage Ladders
Advertisements like this would attract travelers to local bed and breakfasts. In towns popular with tourists, they were a beacon of hope for those looking to stay the night. Today they make the perfect wall decoration in a guest room.
Fun fact: Tin signs became popular in the 1920s and were painted or screen-printed. They’re more prone to rust than enameled signs.
Small signage makes a more subtle impact. It’s also a great way to test the vintage-sign waters.
Tip: Dirt can be cleaned off old signs, but rust is a little harder, so if you’ve spotted a rustier example, buy it only if you love the overall look it has, knowing you might not be able to restore it.