06 - Plastic Era


The Plastic Era

Inside of this room here to the right of where you just walked in, you will find the number of signs in boxes or crates. These are signs in their original packaging they have never been opened before and we've managed to plug all of the men. Because the signs are in their original packaging you can read any of the shipping labels or stamps you may find on the outside of the packages to learn a little bit more about the signs such as where they're coming from or where they may have been headed. These are examples of NOS or New Old Stock, which is highly sought-after in the Antiques and Collectibles worlds.

Then above the golfer we find the Greyhound bus sign in to the right of that the Colonel Sanders KFC sign. These are great examples of early plastic signs and started coming up in the early 1950s, they have flat faces on them and in the case of the Colonel Sanders sign the image has been painted onto the plastic. this was fairly common in the early days of plastic signs.

As sign companies became a little more sophisticated with plastic, they moved on to design such as the Emerson sign the golf sign or the shell sign. These great three-dimensional plastic signs for all made through the process known as vacuum forming. in the corner next to the Kona Lanes sign  you will find two early vacuum form molds. These are actually hand carved mahogany wood molds. and the process works by taking a flat piece of plastic, getting that plastic very hot so it is nice and malleable oh, and then dropping that hot plastic onto the mold. Once it is on the mode you suck all of the air out between the plastic in the mold, forming the hot plastic to the shape of your mold. This is still the process they used to make plastic signs and plastic packaging and all sorts of other plastic products today.

At the opposite end of the dairy sign is the Colonial Dairy sign.  This is an example of an animated neon sign. The animation process works by taking a series of neon signs in this case three neon signs for the cow's head and three neon signs for the cow's tail, and using some form of a repeater to turn the neon lights on and off in a very particular order. when done correctly animation, and is something that is very much synonymous with neon signs.

And then in the middle of the room is the satellite shop land sign.   this sign went up in the early 60s, which was just after the Soviet Union had just launched Sputnik. And with that game the space race, and an obsession with Space Age design and style.  this style becomes known as "googie" design, which basically means that looks like it came from a Jetsons cartoon, it is probably googie. the individual who owned the shopping center had a very difficult time finding a sign company who is willing to make this style sign for them,  and so rather than have it done by a professional, they built it themselves. this is a handmade sign, that was hand-wired and hand fabricated. And it stayed up in Anaheim for nearly 35 years. which is a pretty good run for a homemade sign.

For our next step on the tour will go through the doorway by the vacuum form molds, and make a sharp left as we walk on into the next room standing in front of the McDonald's sign.

Next Stop