Monday, November 7, 2011

It's the Little Things...

The greatly expanded new home of the museum has created the opportunity for many more specialized displays of sign-related items. Construction has been proceeding full-speed ahead at our new home since it began back in mid-August,and by mid-December, we should have occupancy. There’s still plenty of work to do in refining the exhibits and displays, but the biggest task will begin in January, when we start to move the contents of our original home over to the new building. 

I’m often asked if we have enough signs to fill the new home. My usual response is, “More than enough." What we still are searching for, however, are the smaller items which will accompany the signs on display.

We’re also greatly expanding the number of storefronts whose windows become our themed display cases. The Camp Washington site will have 14 storefronts spread out along the Signs on Main Street area. The various themed areas—signpainting, goldleaf, lightbulb signs, etc. will also have featured displays with themes like smalts, opal glass letters, etc. 

You can help.

If you know me, you know I am particularly fond of salesman samples. These are the items you may have in your back closets, under your work benches or maybe on some forgotten back wall that once served as a sales room. They can be free-standing or wall-mounted, in a display case or loose in your bottom drawer. Whatever form they might take, we’re looking for such donations.

We recently acquired two such salesman’s samples. One was gift of the museum’s go-to expert on vintage point-of-purchase signs—Dave Greene of Cincinnati.  He usually exhibits at the bi-annual Antique Advertising Show at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds, so he’s wheeling and dealing with the other dealers even before the show opens to the public.
When he saw the woodgrained porcelain enamel sample (see photo), he snatched it up right away, saying, “This one’s for the museum.”  When I walked into the show that Saturday morning, he walked up and presented it to me.  “Thought you’d like this,” he said. Indeed, I do, and it’ll find a prominent place in our porcelain enamel area. 

He wasn’t finished. He next pulled out an original Zippo lighter box. “Here, I found this, too. It’ll look good in the museum as well.”  In the palm of his hand was a Neon Products engraved lighter with the copy, “30th anniversary.”  Very cool. 

The other new salesman sample acquisition was purchased from Wayne Woodrum of Wayne’s Neon Clocks, who often shares a booth with Dave. It's a pre-WWII salesman sample Glo-Dial clock in its original salesman “suitcase.”  The clock face is porcelain with a uranium glass border tube and two tubes encased in the bezel of the clock—one clear red, the other clear blue.  These internal tubes can be turned on and off with an independent switch. It’s a killer piece and will be a great addition to our exhibit of neon clocks.

We’re always looking for more salesman samples—whether they’re from sign product manufacturers or custom-made samples from sign companies.  Ad specialty items such as lighters, yardsticks, paperweights, match packs, pens, etc. are also wanted.
Remember, it's the little things. So before you toss it out, call Tod at the American Sign Museum @ 513-258-4020 or e-mail with a photo: . You, too, can be a part of your industry’s very own museum.

West Coast Bar-B-Q Heads to Beantown for a Makeover

In a cooperative effort with the Museum of Neon Art (MONA), the pole
sign came to the American Sign Museum, with the remainder going to MONA
This grand sign once heralded Store #5, thought to have been located just blocks from the Peterson Car Museum in Los Angeles. When it came to us, already in disrepair, it suffered further indignities at the hands of passers-by while it waited in the Essex Studios parking lot for a home at our new site. We eventually were able to move it and other equally defaced signs to the new site, but the damage was done.

The United-Maier crew assesses several signs on their way
to safety at the American Sign Museum's new site
Imagine our delight when Andy Puopolo, owner of East Coast Sign Company, Inc. of Stoneham, Massachusetts, asked about restoring a sign for the museum. We suggested Chris' & Pitt's, and he agreed.

That was the easy part. Getting it to Andy was another matter entirely! The height of the sign measured 13' 4" on the trailer, making for anticipated tight squeezes under overpasses and sundry cables. Wishing to visit sign shops along the way added to the adventure, resulting in some long-distance backing up and just a few go-arounds!

Kahnie the Pig looks on as the Chris & Pitts sign heads out 
The weight of the sign made for additional fun in removing it from the trailer, but it's now, waiting patiently at its adopted home to be brought back to life again.

Unloading at East Coast Sign Company
I should aso mention that John Brandmeier, Sales Manager of Matthews Paint, had offered to provide the paint gratis for future museum restorations. Chris' & Pitt's will be the first such project.

The sign needs a total re-paint, in addition to neon repair of the vintage noviol gold glass in the open channel letters and the blue border tubes. Can't wait to see it back to its former self again!  Stay tuned...

In the meantime we have several other signs waiting to be adopted. If you're interested in restoring a sign - or paying to have a sign restored - give me a call (513-258-4020) or send me an email. I'm sure we can find a perfect match for you!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Devil, As They Say, Is in the Details

Tod talks with workers about painting the ceiling
It seemed simple enough. We had the money, we had the blueprints, we certainly had the motivation.

And so it began. Ceilings were knocked out, the floor was poured. Framing, painting, electrical, HVAC, all in their turn. And each needing more decisions than anyone should have to make in a day.  

And so it continued. Bathroom fixtures, IT needs, gift shop design. But oh, the joy in seeing it come together more each day!
Can you see it?
The building itself is on target for completion by the end of the year. And then the REAL fun begins! Fabricating displays, furnishing the lobby, developing programs for a great museum experience, moving EVERYTHING from EVERYWHERE and consolidating it all into THE NEW AMERICAN SIGN MUSEUM, complete with library/archives, event center, and, of course, signs, signs, signs! 
The Main Street storefronts are taking shape
Did I say we had the money? Well, yes, we DO have the money to rehab the building. Creating the complete package we can all be proud of and sustaining it is something else again. But we're on it, and confident 'investors' will come forward to sponsor areas of the museum, adopt a sign, participate in our purchase a paver / paint a panel program, or any of many other ways to be a part of the museum.

If YOU would like to join in, send me an email or give me a call at 513-258-4020 anytime. Together, we'll find the perfect project for you. The more, the merrier!
Our first storefront, brought panel by panel from the Over the Rhine
area of Cincinnati. Can you see the 'No Guns' sticker?
No detail too small for creating 'the Experience'!

See you at the Grand Opening!