I’ve been meaning for years to visit the American Sign Museum here in Cincinnati. It opened in 2005, and finally, this past Friday, thanks to Super Summer Hours, Greg and I went. And we loved it.
The museum’s sign collection includes pieces from throughout sign history, starting with hand-carved wooden letters and going through the neon age.
This sample was in the lobby of the Beverly Sign Company. It showcased some of their gold leaf fonts. I love the descriptions in the arrows: “Nice for a bank,” “Pretty popular,” and everyone’s favorite, “The husky one.”
In our history lesson of signs, we learned about trade signs. These signs featured imagery that would indicate to someone who couldn’t read what the business did. Shoes were a popular motif as were watches.
These art deco neon signs were two of my favorites.
While there were a lot of Cincinnati-centric signs, the signs have come from all over the country. The satellite came from a mall in California, I believe.
I was dying to flip through all these lovely letters.
One of our favorite examples was this salesman’s sample. The letter R glowed purple in an art deco box, but it was really just a white R illuminated by a red and a blue neon light.
The R above by itself looks like this D.
I meant to take a photo of the cool salesman’s suitcase, but in a sign museum, you get a lot of extra stuff in your pictures, too.
We signed up for the 2pm tour, as the tours were highly recommended by the museum web site. And I’m glad we did. Oddly enough, there weren’t a lot of signs about the signs, so the tour guide really helped put it all in context, and he told great stories about the signs, too. As a bonus, at the end of the tour, we were given a demonstration by a neon sign maker whose business is housed in the museum building.
It was truly one of our best Summer Hours Adventures. I would highly recommend a visit to the American Sign Museum if you’re ever in Cincinnati.