Vintage Sign Letters and Why I Love Them
Published on January 28, 2009 :: 4 Comments
That’s easy, you say. You love them because they are GREAT! And not just sign letters, but any kind of letters or lettering devices. And not just letters, but numbers too. They are all enchanting to me – type of any kind. I once watched an entire documentary about a single font. Two hours of my life – gone. And, darn it, it was interesting!
I know that I am not alone in this. What exactly is the allure of type?
Last year in the spring I flew down to North Carolina to visit my mom. Just me, not the entire travelling family circus. I went to a favorite flea market, and sought out a particular flea market vendor by the name of Vincent. As a side note I have to say that Vincent is my favorite flea market guy of all time – the most charming and big-hearted junk man possibly in the entire world. Anyway, there I was. He was talking to another customer, so I start poking around on my own. And I realized that he had a bunch of old cast aluminum sign letters, all different fonts and sizes, the kind that mount directly onto a building to form a company name or whatever. Then I looked under Vincent’s tables and saw that he didn’t have just a bunch, he had boxes and boxes of them! Woo-hoo!
Well, needless to say I bought them all. All one zillion of them. Vincent and I loaded the boxes on a dolley, and then put them in the trunk of my dad’s old Acura sedan. Oh, and in the backseat. As I drove away I thought, I feel for anyone who hits this car. I don’t think it would have budged! The only disappointment of the whole event was that the letters had to stay in my mom’s garage until the next time we drove down with the van. I couldn’t exactly take them home on the plane!
We have sold many of those letters, but still have lots of them too. We have a couple different fonts in our shop in Hudson – Warren Street Antiques. It is fun to see people respond to them and play with them. They try to spell names, or initials, or fun words. Many of the letters are bought as gifts – who would not like to have their initials in 2 foot tall aluminum letters?
So it is settled – letters (and type in general) are beautiful. I have more that I would like to share on this subject. Even as I wrote this post, I was jotting notes for other type-related ideas. Perhaps it will blossom into an entire type series. Who knows? But in the meantime here a few more images – I loved the giant gas station numbers Steve brought home this summer.