Georges Claude and his French company Claude Neon introduced neon gas signs to the United States in 1923 by selling two signs to The Earl C. Anthony Company, a Packard car dealership in Los Angles, California for $1,250 each. Neon lighting quickly became a popular fixture in outdoor advertising. Visible even in daylight, people would stop and stare at the first neon signs for hours, dubbed "liquid fire."
While only a few colors were initially available, after the Second World War phosphor materials became available as they were being used in the production of color televisions. Only about two dozen colors were available to neon sign designers in the 1960s, today there are over 100 colors available.
Neon signs from The Piston Palace collection were originally deployed at car dealerships. The 1950’s is considered the golden age of neon signs and these signs date from that era. Typically, a neon sign's electronics are mounted inside decorative metal cans with porcelain faces and should last for decades. One reason for their early demise is birds nest in the areas where neon tubes penetrate the sign faces. The nests wind up at the bottom of the sign and retain water which causes them to rust, and nobody wants a rusted sign in front of their business. Many vintage signs were thrown away and survivors in good condition are extremely rare.
Our 45-foot long “Sales - Service - Parts” neon sign was on the roof at Frank Kent Motor Co.'s Cadillac dealership in Fort Worth Texas. After the dealership closed, the huge “Cadillac” portion of the sign was removed, but the “Sales - Service – Parts” portion was left behind. Before the building was demolished, a hearty friend climbed to the roof and rescued the remaining sign. The sign was restored and now graces a wall in our showroom.
The glow of a neon light reflecting in an interesting way.
Our Chevrolet Super Service neon sign came from Bean Chevrolet, in Northfield, Vermont. The dealership lost its franchise when, like many small town dealers, it couldn’t afford to keep up with required corporate renovations. Remarkably, the sign remained on the front of the dealership for decades. A friend told us about this sign and we were lucky to find the owner on the right day and he sold it to us.