How to Determine the Age of Vintage Wooden Signs

Vintage wooden signs are the most expensive type of signs, available on the market right now. Some of them may reach astronomic price tags and some are extremely rare to find. Sadly, there are a lot of fake signs that are usually produced in China in order to mimic the vintage design. It is crucial to know how to determine the actual age. Keep in mind that there are some copies that look very realistic, but they are not vintage!

Where to Look

We will start with the simple observation. A real, vintage sign will have an emblem or a logo somewhere, usually on the back of it. These logos are larger and rougher than modern ones, so they are easy to notice. Back in the ages, each company had a unique logo, which had to be imprinted on all products. If there is not a single logo or mark, a sign may be fake! Vintage wooden signs were important in the past, so they were made by professionals.

There are no two same signs! Due to low-end technology capabilities, vintage signs are unique. Each one is slightly different and each one has a few specific characteristics. If you find 2 or three signs vintage wooden signs that have exactly the same dimensions, chances are high that they are fake. In addition, real, vintage signs have standard dimensions that are usually 4x8, 4x4 or 4x12 feet. The situation is the same when it comes to their shape. Only the simplest shapes were used, so don’t look for vintage signs that look different.

Brush strokes are easy to see. Modern signs are painted by robots and with sprays. The second kind, those painted with a brush require soft and delicate brushes so brush strokes are not visible. All vintage signs have them! The brushes used back then were rough and the paint was suitable for brush strokes. This is simply a must-have, and it can help you in determining that a sign is really old. However, it cannot help you determine how old it is.

All vintage signs are different when it comes to the aging. They aged naturally, not evenly, which also helps you determine their true origin. Signs that are made to look like vintage, have been treated with acid in order to look old. When this happens, a sign will be evenly treated, meaning that the complete surface will look the same. Vintage wooden signs age unevenly, simply because the sun and the elements affect different parts of them. As such, the paint will be degraded on specific places, and minor damages will be visible. Fake signs don’t have damages!

The wood used to make these signs is almost always oak. However, there are some additional wood types, but they are rare. What is important is that the signs made from bamboo or from a pine board cannot be vintage. These materials haven’t been used back then and they are reserved for newer signs. 

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