Breweriana: Collectible Beer Signs

Beer Sign

Many beer fans these days are decorating their home bars with the breweriana of the past. One field of breweriana is collectible beer signs. These signs come from many places – bars, restaurants, gas stations, and in many forms. Some beer signs are stamped metal, some are neon, and then there are the painted mirror variety. A fine old antique beer sign sure can liven up your home bar or den, and with many reproduction signs available, prices are coming down for this unique home décor item.

From antique European beer steins to pint glasses to neon signs, the realm of breweriana offers a wide variety of collectibles for beer fans the world over.

One item that no home bar should be without is a clever old beer sign. Many of the slogans used to sell beer are quite catchy. Steel or tin signs reading "Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder", and even "Best Head in Town… Get it at Luckey’s Bar" can be found as originals or reproductions to spruce up your home bar in a comic fashion.

The advent of reproduction beer signs certainly has brought down the market for the antiques, at least for those that have been re-made. For those home bar owners who have yet to invest in an antique beer sign, this is good news! Now you can get great vintage-seeming beer signs at low prices. But for antique collectors, do not fret. If you are the one who has a great old beer sign that hasn’t yet been reproduced, you may find a buyer or have some reproductions made yourself.

One of the flashiest types of beer sign made is, of course, the neon beer sign. Almost every brand currently in large-scale production has neon beer signs made to advertise their product. Even some micro brews have these neon beer signs. Although the theories leading up to the invention of neon date back to 1675, the first neon lamp on public display occurred in Paris, France on December 11, 1910. The inventor, Georges Claude, patented his invention is 1915 in the U.S. and sold the first commercially produced neon signs to a Packard car dealership in 1924 for a whopping $2400 (for two). It was not long after that neon signs started springing up everywhere, including bars and the Vegas Strip.

Vintage neon beer signs are rare items. Neon is notorious for its short lifespan. One of the oldest neon signs still glowing belongs to "Luckey’s" bar in Eugene, Oregon. The sign currently resides indoors, due to a law banning large signs in the town which was passed in the 1970’s. The Air Devil Inn of Louisville, Kentucky claims their sign is also from 1934. This would seem to be the logical date for any of the oldest remaining, intact neon beer-related signs. 1934 was a good year, after all, the year that prohibition ended in the United States!

Of all the forms that beer collectibles take, the beer sign is one that most effectively lends the flavor of the era in which it was made. Anywhere a vintage beer sign is hung lends an aura of authenticity to the room. You will find many bars collect and line the walls of their establishments with these old signs, beer posters, and other vintage breweriana. Why not your home bar?