Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I received an email from Baranduin Briggs, who visited Cincinnati and the American Sign Museum in September, 2007.  According to the email, the museum tour was 'the highlight of my trip to Cincinnati' and is a 'must see'...

Another must see is Baranduin's wonderful recently posted images of the museum, offered here for your consideration...  enjoy...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tod's Amazing Sign Adventures - Johnny's Big Red Grill, Ithaca NY

The 21- foot tall Johnny's Big Red Grill sign was installed in 1949. The restaurant was popular with the Cornell crowd, and the sign was designated an historic landmark.  But as with all of us, time takes its toll, and last year, the sign came down.  Lots of local institutions wanted it, but couldn't manage the cost or space required. 

So it went up for auction on eBay and was purchased by 1976 Cornell graduate Carolyn Coplan, who envisioned it as a gift for her husband to be displayed in their foyer.  Oops.  Too big!  Her search to find a good home for the sign led to the American Sign Museum, and we're glad it did!  We always prefer that a sign stay in its own community, but when that isn't possible, we're glad to help save, restore, and display these treasures.
Soooo.... off i went, enlisting the help of friend, museum patron, and board member Brian 'the Brush' Briskie. We left his home near Rochester at 0-dark-thirty and on the journey encountered rain, traffic, and an absent sign crew. We waited for the crew to arrive at the farm where the sign was being stored. Then we waited some more ...  Then we waited some more... Then the light bulb went off over Brian's head:  hey! i know a sign painter who lives around here. Maybe he can help!  And help he did.  Bob Timmerman arrived around noon with Jared Relyea and Eric Ramey.  With everyone working together, we were able to divide the sign into two smaller pieces, load it on the trailer, and strap it down for its journey to Cincinnati.
Happily, we all made it home safely, and the Johnny's Red Grill sign is already on display in the restoration shop at the museum's permanent home, which is still under construction. 

Read more about the sign, its history, and it's journey to the museum in the Cornell Sun article, and stay tuned for the next chapter of Tod's Amazing Sign Adventures ! 

Friday, November 20, 2009

We're All in this Together!

I call it Roadside Americana.  Call it what you will, a lot of us can't get enough of it. That's why I include links to sign and roadside organizations and websites on the American Sign Museum website.
Some of these sites are incredibly rich with images and commentary, and many are collaborative efforts of like minded folks joined together to create a Society or Association, etc.
While I have the greatest respect for these organizations and so many individuals who share their passion with the rest of us, I am especially impressed by the continuing efforts of one Debra Jane Seltzer to see first hand, capture, document, and share all of her discoveries from well known icons to little known treasures and everything in between. And she loves dogs too! Her own dogs travel with her wherever she goes, which makes a visit with Debra Jane even more fun!

Take a look at her Roadside Architecture site, organized by by category and by state. And if you haven't had enough, check out her Flikr page.

And if you STILL haven't had enough, try her Blog, which she updates only when she's on the road. Can you spot the reference to me (the Man!) and the American Sign Museum?
I don't mean to slight other great organizations, people, or sites. I'll be talking about them in time and updating our lists on the website. I had to begin somewhere, and it seemed only right to begin with Debra Jane.  Thanks for your passion and your willingness to share it, Debra Jane.  Keep up the great work!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Who just received an American Sign Museum Lifetime Membership Award? What sign organization just contributed $5000 to the Museum? Read on…

World Sign Associates (WSA) recently held their annual conference in Cincinnati, and the American Sign Museum was honored to host a reception for its attendees.

During the reception, Museum founder Tod Swormstedt presented a Lifetime Membership to Paddy Rowell, Sr. of Flexlume Sign Corporation, Buffalo, NY. Rowell has donated more than 20 rare and highly collectible vintage signs from the 1910-1930s era. He has contributed greatly to Museum’s understanding of this period of electric signs and its ability to share these treasures with the general public.

Following the Lifetime Membership presentation, WSA president, Ron Jacobs, Berry Neon Systems, Portland, OR, announced that the WSA Board of Trustees voted to donate $5000 to the Museum. This is in addition to the WSA grassroots campaign that promoted Museum membership to individual WSA members.

WSA support and the support of its members comes at a time when our Capital Campaign Match Fund is still in effect, so their contributions will go twice as far in supporting current operations and getting the Museum to its new home.

Paddy Rowell Jr accepts Lifetime Membership Award for his father from Museum founder, Tod Swormstedt

World Sign Associates look on as Tod Swormstedt accepts $5000 contribution. Many of these members are Museum supporters in their own right.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009



Never let it be said this old dog can't learn a new trick or two. The good news is, with this blog I get to talk to you directly about my two passions: signs and the American Sign Museum. And hopefully generate some comments along the way. So stay tuned for what i hope will be 'illuminating' insights into the past, present, and future of the art, craft, value, and just plain fun of signs. Oh, and the continuing evolution of the American Sign Museum!