Texaco Porcelain Enamel Hanging Pole Sign
How to find what a porcelain sign is worth
The value of old or vintage porcelain enamel signs depends primarily on three factors; rarity, condition, and design. Age may have a slight impact on price, but rarity and condition are the real price drivers.
There are other factors that determine a sign’s value, like; demand, brand, and size, that can be almost as important as condition and design, but most collectors of old advertising signs are display collectors, so of course they will buy rare and unusual signs, but they will also pay top dollar for “common” signs if they are in excellent condition.
Factors That Determine What A Porcelain Enamel Sign is Worth:
Condition is King
Whether it is a desirable rare sign, or a common entry-level sign, condition can be a price multiplier, or a price chopper.
Round Magnolia Oil Porcelain Enamel Signs
As can be seen by these auction-estimate prices of nearly identical signs, the Near-mint* sign on the left, (Fig.1), could typically sell for several thousand dollars, but the Used Beat-up* sign on the right, (Fig. 3), would probably sell for only a few hundred dollars.
*collectible signs are graded on a 1 to 10 scale. 1 is nearly unsellable trash, and 10 is Mint
Examples of Porcelain Signs Condition Prices.
Size Does Matter
The majority of old sign buyers are collectors building a display, whether it is for a room like a Man Cave, a garage, or a replica of a gas station or service area. The most valuable signs are ones that have great “eye” appeal, from both a distance, and close-up, but display space – usually a wall or door panel – is a prime consideration. A six-foot Mobil Gas Pegasus might look impressive, but where to put it can be a problem. The same thought applies to small signs. A collector might have a spot for one or two door-push signs, but other than on a door – they may be hard to see from a distance.
The most popular, and thus most valuable, advertising signs are in the 28″ – 44″ range. They are easily displayed, and they look good from a distance. This doesn’t mean other larger or smaller signs aren’t valuable, it just means there is less demand, so value prices are generally lower.
These two examples aren’t identicle, but they do show the concept that size affects value.
Old Porcelain Ford Sign
This Ford sign, (Fig. 1), is 64″ x 22″ – a large sign that would take up most of a wall.
Because it is a commonly found sign, it sold for $225
Old Porcelain Ford Service Station Sign
Fig. 2 is a smaller sign – 24″ x 10,” and is also a fairly common sign, and even though it is not quite as good condition as Fig. 1 – it sold for $335. Display size and flexibility was almost certainly a factor.
One example of popular vintage small porcelain signs is the market for what are called “Door Push” signs. These are just what the name says – they are placed on doors as handles, or handle placements. They may not draw the multi-hundreds of dollars a bigger sign gets, but for premium value and collector demand, they command premium prices. From $40 to $400.
See examples of smaller procelain sign values
Demand Drives The Price
Demand covers different areas. It covers the obvious; signs that are popular choices, or rare, but it also covers Brand, and Design, such as; Die-cut signs.
Top brands like; Texaco, Mobil, Esso, Shell, Gulf, etc. are always in demand and draw premium prices, but because these signs are also plentiful, their price value is very dependent on condition. Other, less known brands, like; Magnolia or Olizum Oils can also be in popular demand.
Die-cut signs are also popular. These are shaped signs, not just round or square.
Die-cut Porcelain Signs
Here are some examples: