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Sign Stories

Posted By: T-way

Sign Stories - Sat Nov 09 2002 08:50 PM

Okay . . . Seth started this in the pump stories. So I decided that the sign people needed their own string.

Here goes . . .

This happened years ago. I had always told my car club buddies to keep a look out for an old Pontiac Dealership Sign. I had wanted one for years and years.

So one Tuesday, my pal Stu calles me at work and asked me if I had made it to the Spring Dustoff Car Show at the Pontiac Administration Building in Pontiac MI the Sunday before. Well, this was the first year in a long time that I hadn't made it to the show.

Stu says that there was a fellow there with an old neon Pontiac Dealership sign for sale. I asked him if he had bought it. "Nope" Stu says, "but I got his number." Then Stu offers to go halfsies with me on the sign. I immediately get Stu off the phone and call this guy's number. He informs me that he had so many requests to sell only one side of the sign that he has broken it up. But one side is still available. I make an appointment to see it that night.

As soon as I'm done with work, I head to the bank and make the 40 minute drive home. I hook up my trailer, load the wife and kid in the car and head out for an hour+ drive to see the sign.

When we get there, the fellow takes me out to his garage and there's the sign. It's beautiful - about 9' wide and 5' tall. All red, white and blue porcelain. It is in great shape with only a couple of dime-sized chips in the field and a few small chips along the edges. It is about a 9.5 on a scale of 10. The neon is gone, but I know that I can get that redone.

Not wanting to appear too eager, I offer him a bit less than half of the price Stu told me he was asking at the Dust Off. He says that he needs the full half - but he will throw in the half-round endcap for free. I try not to break my arm getting to my wallet to close the deal. He helps me load the sign on the trailer and we head home.

Ths following spring, I get a can made for the sign. It's still waiting for new neon, but it holds a place of honor in my 'Coop' with all the rest of my automobilia and petrolania.

The best thing about the whole deal - it only cost me $150.00! Last week a smaller 2-sided Pontiac Dealership Sign with restored neon failed to sell at over $5,500.00! I think I did really well.

Okay you sign people, tell us your stories.


[This message has been edited by T-way (edited 11-09-2002).]
Posted By: indianrefining1931

Re: Sign Stories - Sun Nov 10 2002 01:49 AM

My only "sign story" would be to recall how sick it makes me every time I think about how many complete banjo poles my late Father (a 40+ year TEXACO Consignee) hauled to the junk yard!

Jim Hinds
Columbus, Indiana
Posted By: Mr.Wadhams

Re: Sign Stories - Sun Nov 10 2002 03:01 AM

If the pictures I am adding work you will see a shed I bought a few months ago and stripped for the unusual porcelain signs it was built out of.
A woman answered my shopper placed ad for Wadhams Oil Company items. Said she had two signs nailed to her shed. As we talked she mentioned there was about fifty service station signs all together! I then told her I better come and look the next day. It was a three hour drive and when I got there I was in for a surprise. The outside of the shed she led me to was a cruddy looking grey thing. But when we went inside I was greated with a building literally built out of porcelain signs. All the tin sheathing was actually signs.Instead of just buying the two that were Wadhams,I negotiated a deal on all 49 complete signs. She wanted enough money for new tin to match her other pole building and got an estimate. Thats what I paid. I made two trips to remove the signs.
The only signs that were cut were on the gable ends...the rest were mostly grade eight or better.
Has anybody seen these "Perfect Gasolines" signs before? They are identical to the "Wadhams Gasolines" signs. They date in the early and mid thirties.

[This message has been edited by Mr.Wadhams (edited 11-09-2002).]

[This message has been edited by Mr.Wadhams (edited 11-09-2002).]
Posted By: Dick Bennett

Re: Sign Stories - Sun Nov 10 2002 06:09 AM

About 10 years ago, a friend wanted to use my S-10 pickup to fetch a simi restored Tok 850 Twin [complete with guts] he had bought. I had nothing going on, so I drove.
When we get to where the pump was, the guy takes us to the old building where the pump was found. On the way back to his place he reaches under his seat and pulls out a sign [14" Mohawk paddle]. Are you guys into signs, he asked. I tell my friend that this is HIS trip, but if he doesn't want the sign, I would like to have it. HE bought it.
On the way home, he says thanks for the use of the truck and Gave me the sign. I still have it and have turned down alot of $$$$$ for it.
A couple of years go by and he's getting out of the pumps and stuff. He calls, Hey Dick do you want the 850 Twin? I'm dumbfounded, I never thought that he would sell it.
I bought it. It stands next to a Tok. 36B Twin
Posted By: DCpate

Re: Sign Stories - Sun Nov 10 2002 06:34 AM

I've also seen a barn constructed of porcelain signs in central Oklahoma. Mr. Wadhmas your pics are extraordinary-- please send me an email at cpate@ou.edu if you'd be interested in selling/trading one of those signs.

Posted By: TN Volunteer

Re: Sign Stories - Sun Nov 10 2002 07:18 PM

Wow you guys have some awesome stories,

I have a couple but will tell the one for now, not nearly as good as the others though.

A month or so ago my wife and I decided to take a "vacation". We decide to go back up to Canada to look for goodies, not sure why cause I never find anything good. On the way up I pass by a gas station with a bulk loading station as well as a couple of out builidings on the place. This place is on a major highway and within 50 miles of the US Border. On one of the out buildings there is a porcelain Imperial Esso Products sign hanging on the building. So I double back to go inquire about the sign and find no place to park. Everybody looks at me like I am from Mars and nobody bothers to lift a finger to make a place to park for me. After about 10 min, I told the wife the hell with this. We dont have time to fool around waiting when I have a person to meet on a pump and probably 1000 people have already stopped to ask about the sign. So we leave. A week later we head for home and I had totally forgot about going back to check the sign out. I normally try to take a different route home to see if I can find any goodies laying around here and there. As I am driving by I notice the sign again. I told the wife that I gotta stop to check it out. I get out and tell her I will be back in a couple of min. I walk in and ask about the sign and she says let me call the owner at home (on a Sunday morning mind you). A few minutes later she asks how much is it worth. I told I have no idea and that I need to go take a closer look. She says go look because they have no idea how much it is worth. Yeah right I think to myself, I have heard that line more times than I can count. I go look at it and it has a couple of chips the size of a dime and a couple the size of a nickle. I thought well I will offer 150 American cash expecting her to tell me no. She calls the owner again and he said it was mine. the sign is about 4.5ft wide by 3ft tall oval single sided. Looking back I wished I had offered 50 but I have done that and then ruin a deal. She told me that I was the first to inquire about the sign. You never know what lies around the next curve, even on a major highway!!

Happy collecting, will tell my next story later.

TN Volunteer
Posted By: Dick Bennett

Re: Sign Stories - Sun Nov 10 2002 09:28 PM

In 1978 I'm driving around Ok.,Ark. & Mo. looking for a gas pump. I finaly spot a Hays 15 gal. skeleton. It's a corner fence post at a pig farm. I ask if it's for sale. Yes, BUT you have to replace it with a post that will hold the pigs in. After 3 hours in the summer sun, the post is set and the pump is loaded. 3 years later I was able to find a 15 gal etched cylinder and a parts pump.
Posted By: FrankSargent

Re: Sign Stories - Tue Nov 12 2002 01:56 AM

"Sign Stories" is moving too far down on the main page.. so here I go again. Your experiences are a delight to read.. so I am replying to move it to the top of the page.

Posted By: DCpate

Re: Sign Stories - Tue Nov 12 2002 03:49 AM

Oklahoma is a great place to sign hunt. I got these 2 DX signs off of the bulk plant for $150. They are made of seperate interlocking porcelain pieces.

Not the oldest signs out there but its always great getting something from its original source.

[This message has been edited by DCpate (edited 11-11-2002).]

[This message has been edited by DCpate (edited 11-13-2002).]
Posted By: T-way

Re: Sign Stories - Wed Nov 13 2002 03:15 PM

Hello everyone! I've got another sign story for you.

Those of you that read the posting religously will know about my 'Coop. Well when I originally bought my house, chicken coop, grainery and the property it all sat on, there were a couple of hand-made tables in the 'Coop' that the old farmer had made and used for work tables. One was trashed and I dismantled it (read 'busted with a sledge hammer') and tossed away. The other, I used for years and years as a work surface. It appeared to be an old porcelian sign that had been mounted upside-down as a tabletop. I just assumed that it was a 'grain' or 'farm' type of sign as this had been a centennial farm out in the middle of nowhere - possibly a 'Dekalb' sign.

So one day, I'm under one of my cars doing something that required the creeper (I work on my cars all the time). As I slide out from under the car I look up and notice the underside of this table. My brain starts to work and I realize that the text that I can see between the supporting boards doesn't look anything like a farmers sign. When I finish with my project, I get my hands clean and climb under the table again. Dammed if it isn't a Opaline porcelain sign. The one that talks about the '5 grades' of oil. Red, White and Green and about 3' x 5'. Just the right size for a table-top.

So, of course, I had to make a new table.

Posted By: 57-Chevy

Re: Sign Stories - Fri Nov 15 2002 10:06 PM

I just got a call from a lady I have bugging about a couple of Sinclair signs for the past 2 years. They are large signs in about 3 different sections to spell out SINCLAIR. They are from the 1930's and I understand they were around the top of an old gas station here in my home town. They are an 8 grade or better and are tacked up on the side of a wood shed with the pretty side facing in. She took my offer of $50 after 2 years of waiting.

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