Old Sign Kit For Sale

An interactive section of TheLetterheads.com

Topics include: Sign Making, Design, Fabrication, Letterheads, Sign Books.

Off Topic Posts may be deleted at the discretion of the web hosts. ABSOLUTELY NO SHARING OF COPYRIGHTED FONTS, CLIP ART, or VIDEOS!

Please take social chit-chat elsewhere!

Moderators: Danny Baronian, Mike Jackson, Ron Percell

Post Reply
Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee

Old Sign Kit For Sale

Post by Robare M. Novou » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:14 am

If you got the coin you could buy this for me...my birthday is in a few days.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-19th-C- ... 4d15974e7f

Kit2.jpg (96.24 KiB) Viewed 6716 times
Kit8.jpg (104.78 KiB) Viewed 6699 times
Last edited by Robare M. Novou on Sat Dec 07, 2013 5:22 am, edited 2 times in total.
What's On Your Book Shelf ?


Andrew Lawrence
Posts: 59
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2013 1:06 pm

Re: Old Sign Kit For Sale

Post by Andrew Lawrence » Fri Dec 06, 2013 6:57 pm

Wow! Pretty sure this was a Chicago sign painter judging by him mentioning Chicago and "Armitage" (a main street in Chicago) in the diary entry. Perhaps one of Atkinson's pupils!

Lee Littlewood
Posts: 219
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2004 2:36 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: Old Sign Kit For Sale

Post by Lee Littlewood » Sat Dec 07, 2013 1:19 am

Way cool, although it is strange that he did not put his name on his kit. The usual folded packets of bronze powders, a few books of Hastings patent leaf, some dutch metal or aluminum. Also some old brushes - in quill, but without handles, like Ray LeBlanc talks about. And a small tin of Murphy's varnish. A stencil alphabet and stencils for a cow. Perforated patterns for corner flourish. Strangest to me are two 'automatic brushes"(??) that look like they could be for doing stencils - fill up the tube with paint (like a Bugler striper) and dab with the brush end through a stencil. Maybe.

Also two bits of writing - they show the top pages, maybe there is more underneath, maybe not.
Jan8 1889.small.jpg
Jan8 1889.small.jpg (121.6 KiB) Viewed 6723 times
I make it to read:
Jan 8 1889 tuchup and
varnish. 12-13-14-15-17-18
finished outside with Murphxxxx
inside with Murphy and lacqxxxx
25-26-27-29- come in Jan 8-1889
finished with Armitage
inside with Wilhelm v
went out Jan 23 - 1889
28-27-38-39- come Jan 23 -18xx
finished with one cote otside
Armitage (seaxx?) with
Wilhelm varnish
finished Feb 2 1889
taken out Feb 6 "

1909 -1917.jpg
1909 -1917.jpg (104.74 KiB) Viewed 6745 times
A little trickier to make out, maybe:
(on 1 end)
June 15 1909 10
june 3 1918
Repainted as #9
(main page)
Nov 6 1911 74
Nov 27 Repainted (Roof?)
Aug 26 1913
Patch (Roof?) as ?? R
Revarnish with Murphy
oct 29 1915
(illegible - Repainted …??)
1 Body color plat
2 var Chicago
system 4 days
New head lining
March 29 1917
tuch up

And (I think) here is the Armitage varnish he was using, but I don't know what the "var chicago system / 4 days" means.
Armitage .jpg
Armitage .jpg (28.56 KiB) Viewed 6696 times
So. I think he is keeping track of particular vehicles (carriage, or omnibus, or draywagon, or ??) and when they get revarnished. He may not have been a letterer but a painter/decorator; that was a respected trade. The stencils and striping brushes would go with that.

Detective work, trying to learn from our elders and betters. This sort of thing should be in the American Sign Museum.
where am i? Now, when i need me...

Tyler Tim
Posts: 201
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:12 am

Re: Old Sign Kit For Sale

Post by Tyler Tim » Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:50 am

Lee, I think you nailed it with Coach painter ... Maybe a Dairy? Seems he worked there for some years looks like he could of went from horse-drawn carriage and wagons to Mack's and Ford Model TT Trucks. (New head liner)

I think the one line is (1 Body color Flat).


And Happy Birthday to you Robare.
Sure I paint thing for my amusement and then offer them for sale. A brushslinger could whither en die from lack of creativity in this plastic town my horse threw a shoe in. :shock:

Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee

Re: Old Sign Kit For Sale

Post by Robare M. Novou » Sat Dec 07, 2013 4:35 am

It's quite possible judging from the tools of his trade that he was at one time a trolley painter that decorated and gilded trolley cars for the Reading Traction Co. in Philadelphia.

See this image and more at: http://donsdepot.donrossgroup.net/dr886.htm
Allentown-Lehigh Valley Traction Co..jpg
Allentown-Lehigh Valley Traction Co..jpg (327.5 KiB) Viewed 6717 times
Reading Traction Co.jpg
Reading Traction Co.jpg (78.83 KiB) Viewed 6732 times
What's On Your Book Shelf ?


Robare M. Novou
Posts: 415
Joined: Thu May 06, 2004 11:18 am
Location: Milwaukee

Re: Old Sign Kit For Sale

Post by Robare M. Novou » Sat Dec 07, 2013 5:18 am

Horse-Drawn-Streetcar.jpeg (80.02 KiB) Viewed 6709 times
What's On Your Book Shelf ?


Lorenzo Petersson
Posts: 33
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:11 pm

Re: Old Sign Kit For Sale

Post by Lorenzo Petersson » Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:53 pm

Beautiful kit, very cool!

Those automatic brushes look like ancestors to the Marsh brand fountain brushes, used for stenciling with thick industrial strength inks.

Arlo Kalon
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 10:23 am

Re: Old Sign Kit For Sale

Post by Arlo Kalon » Fri Feb 06, 2015 7:35 am

A few years back a friend picked up a loaded sign kit at an estate sale for me. I was the kind with cantilevered shelves and a rubber step on top. Using it s a seat gives you two heights to work from, perfect for truck door lettering. He spent $250 for it and my wife freaked when I bought it from him. She relaxed after I inventoried the brushes at over $2,000 worth plus tons of tools and gold leafing supplies. I cherish it as it is the exact one I wanted since I was 17 and just starting out. Took me until age 44 to finally get one. Hard telling how old it is but it is rock solid and I have stood on it a lot to letter windows.
Hand lettered signs... the ultimate urban art

Doug Bernhardt
Posts: 1028
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2004 9:29 am
Location: Ottawa Canada

Re: Old Sign Kit For Sale

Post by Doug Bernhardt » Sat Feb 07, 2015 1:52 pm

Really interesting find. Mr. Glawson would have picked this up in a second just for the note books I'll wager. Would love to see Arlo's kit and find as well.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests