05 - Neon Era


Neon Era


Underneath the Ford sign is the Christmas wreath from Rochester, New York. This was made by a neon shop for their own decoration. that shop was a Claude Neon franchise.  Georges Claude is credited with the invention of the neon sign, and control the intellectual property for neon in the United States until the early 1930s. Many early neon shops or franchises of Claude's or at the very least the name, such as the shop that made this sign.


To the right of that is the Pure Gasoline sign, Then skipping over the Gap to the Eagles Club sign, and underneath that do United Pentecostal Church sign. these are all great examples of Art Deco Neon.   art deco is very popular art style in the 1930s and 40s, and became popular as neon became popular itself. So neon and Art Deco were often seen as intertwined. Cities such as Miami and Los Angeles have really strong art-deco Traditions as well as really strong neon traditions. All of these signs have a porcelain enamel backing which makes it an incredibly resistant to corrosion and helps  to keep their look lasting longer.

Many people see neon signs but don't know exactly how they work. All neon signs are handmade the glass has to be bent by hand and it is heated up and made by someone who would be known as a tube-bender. The glass is all one piece that is then filled with either Neon gas or Argon gas. Neon gas will glow orange red when electrified, and argon will glow blue when electrified. From there you can put the different colored gases instead of different colored glasses, like the blue Argon gas inside of a yellow glass tube will produce a green neon sign. for slightly more complicated neon signs, they will have a phosphor powder on the inside of the glass that will glow when hit with the light from the gas. This is how we're able to get white neon or mint colored neon. So inside of a hand bent glass tube is one of two gases, the glass can be different colors, and the glass can be coated with a phosphor powder that will glow. All of this comes together in a spectacular light display.

Behind you you'll find the wall dedicated to porcelain enamel. Porcelain enamel is a technology that dates back to at least the ancient Persians, but was popular in the United States for Sign Making from about 1930 to 1960. Porcelain enamel is a glass coating on metal that can be applied either with a hot process or a cool process. because the signs tend to keep their look the longest, I also tend to be the most valuable, especially neon signs with porcelain enamel faces.

For the next part of we're going to continue on down our timeline hallway into the room with the spinning satellite,  towards the gulf sign.