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Decorating with Retro Tin Signs

Updated on June 27, 2013

Tin Signs: A Fun & Nostalgic Wall Décor Idea

Ever since the first merchant hung a sign on their business door it has become a way to attract attention. From neon to wood, advertising signs came in all shapes and sizes. For home (and even businesses today) tin signs are an inexpensive décor item to create a special look. If you are starting up or already own a local diner, hanging a retro tin sign on the wall captures the atmosphere of good food & coffee from the past. Think of it as the ideal complement to the comfort food served with "comfort décor".

For homes there are so many choices of tin signs to decorate a kitchen, game room, bathroom, and even the garage.

Original Vintage Bell Sign
Original Vintage Bell Sign

Vintage Tin Sign vs Reproductions

Avoid Getting Ripped Off

As you start your decorating project the first question is your budget. Before searching for old advertising signs it may be good idea to understand a bit of "tin sign" history. Original vintage tin signs are not cheap. We are talking about the real deals used in many businesses from the early 1900s to even present day. Vintage tin signs have become a collectors item and as the demand increased from the limited supply, prices have risen over time. Here's a bit of background about these vintage signs and why they become so expensive.

To be protected from the harsh outdoor elements these signs were not made of tin but steel instead and were coated with a thick porcelain enamel finish. This technique started in Germany and was imported into the U.S in the early 1900s. It didn't take long for this to become the staple of outdoor advertising as more bold colors and graphics were used on the signs. Not requiring electricity and very durable to the weather, soon there were signs just about for every consumer product advertised from cigarettes, diners, beer to farm equipment, there was a sign for that. The porcelain enamel coating is the most costly part of the sign and in time costs were reduced by changing to a tin base and silk screen printing on the surface.

It is only in the last 20 or 30 years that these original metal signs became collector items as World War II greatly reduced the numbers where metal was in such high demand for the war effort. (Finding an antique original porcelain enamel sign in excellent condition is rare and collectors will pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for the right sign. Advertising signs for businesses no longer in business or unique slogans hold the highest value.

This little bit of "tin sign" history is helpful to understand why that today there are many companies selling distressed reproductions which mean it's a tin sign that's has been made to look old with rust and such. There is nothing wrong with the products they are selling or illegal, they are just more affordable. Of course if they are claiming these are not reproductions but are originals, and their prices are very low, such as under twenty dollars for a tin sign, you may want to challenge them on this. One other way to identify original vintage signs is they may have a stamp with the date that they were manufactured on the back. Or do some more research or even talk with a knowledgeable antique dealer to help figure out the original or reproduction.

Repro of Old Coke Sign
Repro of Old Coke Sign

Affordable Reproduction Tin Signs

Tip on Decorating with Tin Signs

If you are on a budget and you don't have lots of time to search around for original vintage signs for your walls, then reproductions are the next best thing. There a lots of choices and themes for any room in the house or business. From bathroom, kitchen to even the Man cave there any many tin signs to choose from. The advantage of reproduction tin signs is that their inexpensive costs means you can change around the signs on a regular basis. Or use them as adjuncts to an original vintage sign that you may have acquired. This website (Retroplanet.com) has a large selection of tin signs and even suggestions for wall decorating ideas with your tin signs.

Tin Sign Decorating Tips

Here are just a few ideas or tips when decorating with tin signs or original vintage signs:

- Get a current assessed value of all of your original vintage signs for insurance records in case of damage or theft.

- Create a theme with old slogans or brand. Popular cultural has changed with the times and this is something to highlight - hint some of the old movie sayings remain classics

- A single sign is a lonely sign. Create a wall décor of a mix of large and small signs of all shapes

- Use tin signs as backdrops to other collector items. They add some nice accent to just about any collectors items.

Tin signs are easy to find in all shapes, sizes and colors today. They are easy to hang and rather inexpensive to purchase. From the garage to the living room tin signs can add a unique décor touch to any room.

Tin Signs Product Video

The company promos their website and gives a few tips on the different ways to decorate with tin signs.

Buy Tin Signs

Starting decorating today with your "new" tin signs.

Decorating on the Cheap

Inexpensive Tin Signs

One way to save money and yet create a unique style is to look for items that cover lots of wall space yet don't cost a small fortune. Decorating with tin signs is one way to make this happen. Tin sign are colorful, have a message that shouts your taste and are easy to move around. Here is my top reasons I like to decorate with tin signs:

- Tin signs are easy to hang and move around

- Tin signs come in all sizes and shapes that add character to a room

- Retro tin signs come with memories.

Enjoy!

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