The History of Signage

historical sign

Signs have been around far longer than you might imagine, just not in quite the way you might be thinking.  According to Wikipedia signage is defined as “the design or use of signs and symbols to communicate a message to a specific group…Signs are any kind of visual graphics created to display information to a particular audience.”  Using this definition the first “signs” were cave drawings such as those done by the Egyptians and others to pass information on to future generations.  These signs were a way of keeping track of history, but also providing useful information about potential danger as well as opportunities for food in the area.

Fast forward a few hundred years and other types of signs emerge.  Religious groups began to use signs, such as the cross or the moon, to indicate religious affiliations. The first commercial signs are found in about this same time period with examples having been recovered from the Greek and Roman peoples.  They used stone to create signboards to put on shop fronts as well as for officials to announce public events.  In addition there have been examples recovered from the outside of shops where there were white areas which would then have symbols painted on them to indicate what type of building it was.  Some of the earliest still exist today such as the red and white pole for the barber’s shop and the three balls which indicate a pawnbroker.

english pub sign

In the 14th century King Richard II of England made signage a law.  He required shops to put up signs on their property with his legislations that stated “whosoever shall brew ale in the town with intention of selling it must hang out a sign, otherwise he shall forfeit his ale.”  Given that no one wanted to forfeit their ale, signs became common.  As time went on and more and more shops went up, the shop owners had to get more elaborate in their signage to differentiate themselves, thus we move in to the more modern versions of signs.

Many shop owners thought the answer was bigger signs, this became a hazard to the public as well as an eye sore, which is when government began to get involved with legislating the size and location for sign placement.  In the 19th century painting of signboards became so popular that local artists were able to support themselves just from this type of work. In addition, some inventions came along that really helped the industry – gas lighting, the industrial printing press, and electricity.

neon sign

The next major sign developments came in the early 1900’s.  Lights began to be added to signs, initially just for businesses that operated after dark but eventually to nearly all signs.  In the 1920’s came the invention of the neon sign.  This provided signage that could be easily customized and highly visible. For many years neon signs became the standard.  In addition, the creation and widespread adoption of the automobile led to the need for street signs and street safety signs at about this same time.  From here plastics were introduced which allowed for large scale production of signs with the flexibility to make changes easily.

From there it was a quick jump to the sign industry of today which is estimated to be just over a $50 billion dollar a year industry.  Now signs are available in any color, size, material, or shape you can imagine and can be displayed in hundreds of manners.   Infinity Signs NW is a proud part of the history of the sign industry with our team’s creative energy helping to further advance signage and move it towards future development.

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Channel Letter Signs and Installation

lighted-signs

Channel letter signs are a popular option for businesses. They are dimensional and stand out away from the building, making quite the impact. They can be made using a wide variety of fonts, colors, and sizes.

The term channel letter signage encompasses many different styles of signs. Here’s a rundown of each type:

  • Front Lit Channel Letters

This is the most commonly seen and is also called standard channel letters. The illumination is projected through the front faces of the letters.

  • Reverse Channel Letters

In this type of sign, the illumination comes from the back of the letters. They are also commonly called halo lit or back lit letters. The light is reflected off the wall behind them, creating a halo.

  • Open Face Channel Letters

These letters have open faces, allowing for the placement of neon illumination. They’re bright and eye-catching when used in the right situation.

  • Front/Back Lit Channel Letters

Those looking for a dramatic sign should consider this type of channel lettering. These letters produce illumination from both the front and back making for a dynamic and bright sign.

Channel letter signs can be mounted in a several ways:

  • Raceway Mount

Channel letter signs are often installed on a raceway, which is a metal box that houses the electrical wiring and power supply for the letters. It reduces the number of wall penetrations required for mounting.

  • Flush Mount

In this installation technique, the letters are attached directly to the building. This creates a flawless appearance that many people favor for their business signs.

  • Backer Mount

Letters are attached to a metal cabinet or backer panel that is larger in height and width then the channel letter configuration.

Channel letter signs are popular because of their ability to make the signage unique and illuminated. Businesses interested in this type of sign should contact Infinity Signs NW.

Exterior Sign Cleaning and Maintenance

CleaningNew

A dirty sign doesn’t create a good impression for customers and clients. To make sure an exterior sign is portraying a business’s image in the best way, it should be routinely cleaned.

Over time, signs can become dirty from battling the elements, birds and other animals resting or nesting on them, and more. Cleaning signs gets rid of this debris, and helps extend their life.

Because many signs are located high up on buildings or poles and can contain electrical components, sign cleaning should be left to sign professionals for safety reasons. Infinity Signs NW has the equipment and knowledge to clean signs quickly and properly as part of their sign cleaning and maintenance services.

Some materials the signs are made from can have an aversion to certain cleaning products or chemicals. If these products are used on exterior signs, it could result in permanent damage to the sign. Infinity Signs NW is aware of this, and has the proper cleaning products for every type of signage they create.

No matter the size, height, or material of the sign, Infinity Signs NW can remove the rust, dust, and other debris that accumulates so businesses can look their best. Consider scheduling a professional sign cleaning every quarter for maximum benefits.

While cleaning, the crew can inspect the sign for any wear and tear it might have sustained over the years such as loose bolts, bent frames, broken light bulbs, and more. They can recommend a course of action to fix any damage and get to work on it right away.

Regular cleaning and maintenance is crucial in keeping exterior signs looking good and having a long lifespan. Infinity Signs NW understands that signs are a big investment, and wants to help keep them looking and performing their best for as long as possible.

Maintaining Neon Signs

Neon signs are bright and fun. They’re a great way to direct attention, but not if they are burnt out. To keep neon signs lit and around for years to come, maintain neon signs with the steps below:

  1. Dust

Dust can dim the sign and cause issues if it builds up. To clean the dust off of a neon sign, take a small nylon brush and gently remove all of the dust particles from the sign. Next, use room temperature water and a soft sponge to wipe the light down before drying it. This needs to be done with extreme caution because the bulbs are very fragile.

  1. Nicotine Damage

One of the most common places to find neon signs is in a bar. If people have smoked in the vicinity, the signs might have nicotine stains. For this, an ammonia-based cleaner that is safe for use on glass should be used. Use a small cloth and dip it in the cleaner, then wring it out. Wipe down the surface with the ammonia-based cleaner before using a damp cloth on it. Then dry it before turning the sign back on.

  1. Ongoing Maintenance

Keeping the sign on 24 hours a day will actually use less electricity than turning it on and off. It takes more power for the sign to heat up than if it was left on at all times. Try to keep neon signs in a place where they won’t get bumped. If there are any problems with the light, contact Infinity Signs to come take a look at it.

Visit the Infinity Signs gallery on the website to see some of the neon signs they have made for businesses. If the sign goes out or is acting up, Infinity Signs can service and repair the sign to get it working properly again.