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Early Painted Trade Signs Can Highlight Any Collection!
Posted 16 Jul 2013, by Don
I have been in many great collections in recent years, both in early homes and contemporary settings, and often a highlight is an early, graphic, painted trade sign.  These signs are often of considerable size and shout to be seen.   When literacy rates were low, in the 18th and 19th centuries, shop owners relied on carved and painted signs to supply a visual message to potential patrons.  Subject matter includes dressmakers, boot makers, physicians, carriages, inns, food, and drink.....Often itinerant artists who also painted gameboards, coaches, homes, and even portraits were retained to create the sign.....Now they provide visual stimulation in the home and often are just the right object to carry a large space, particularly modern homes with vaulted or cathedral ceilings with acres of wall space.  Good early painted tradesigns are rare to find, as most were used outdoors and the vast majority did not survive.  Often a two-sided sign will have one side considerably more worn as it faced the weather.  Trade signs tell stories.  Imagine the many people that passed under these signs 150-200 years ago, imagine what they were talking about, imagine what they have witnessed?  Now they have become part of the home collected for the art and history.  I am always looking for great early painted signs, please contact me if you have one you might like to part with.  For reference, see Lions and Eagles and Bulls, Early American Tavern and Inn Signs from the Connecticut Historical Society.