Almost as old as business itself, signs and displays have been a fundamental part of trade for literally centuries. Ever since humans began to use tools, create products, and provide services, various forms of signage have been used as a means of highlighting relevant themes and becoming more visible to the public.
As one of the longest-running traditions in the world, it’s important to understand how signs have been made and used throughout history to match the vibe of the time period in which they existed.
Take a walk through history with Bartush Signs as we discuss the importance of advertising displays throughout history.
Humans have been communicating through imagery since before writing itself was invented. Ancient signage, or “symbolic advertising” as some experts call it, could have been as rudimentary as carved pictures or drawn symbols that communicated the sale of certain products or services to the public.
Archaeologists have uncovered tablets dating back 40,000 years that seemed to suggest that artisans located in the Nile delta area frequently advertised products like weaponry, pottery, and everyday utensils using this method.
By 3000 BCE, display advertising had evolved exponentially. By this time, many patrons had already begun to decorate simple materials such as wood, brick, and stone, with simple designs.
For more luxurious services, such as fine goods merchants and bathhouses, signs were made using expensive materials like marble, alabaster, bronze, or copper. Typically, these signs featured much more intricate designs in the hopes of attracting wealthier clientele.
Signage in the 17th Century
By the mid 1600s in Europe, outdoor signs had become even more elaborate and heavier than ever before. It was not uncommon to find signs weighing up to 100 pounds dangling dangerously above the streets.
As a result of the obvious safety concerns, Charles II of England passed a law prohibiting signs from hanging across streets or public walkways. Later, other regulations were enforced which limited the size, weight, and extension of such advertising.
This stage, although limiting and strict, contributed significantly to the development of outdoor displays as we know them today.
The Age of Neon
The turn of the 19th century introduced new technology that expanded the creativity and expression of advertising displays more than ever before.
In 1840, the first gas-illuminated sign was created for the popular P.T. Barnum Museum in Chicago, Illinois. This display was capable of remaining brightly-lit for more than 5 hours straight, a feat that was unheard of at the time. While relatively basic in design, this sign and others like it were particularly popular for drug stores, theaters, and other houses of entertainment.
As a result of their ability to mesmerize, these displays paved the way for the neon gas-lit signs that dominated the industry throughout the 1920s all the way until the onset of World War II.
Plastics Revolutionize the Signage Industry
Following the conclusion of World War II, the sign market, which had grown tired of the bulky, heavy displays of previous years, was prepared for something new.
The late 1940s and early 1950s were a time of great economic boom in the United States, and an all-new material was quickly becoming more accessible and less expensive: plastic.
Due to their inexpensive, malleable, versatile, and durable nature, the use of plastic in signage began to explode. It was during this period that many display manufacturing and design companies began to take shape in the U.S., including Bartush!
By the start of the 1960s, plastic signs, especially those which made use of acrylics, had begun popping up everywhere. At this point, nearly every small store or public office featured it’s own unique display.
The Display and Signage Industry of Today
These days, the display advertising industry continues to be as vibrant and revolutionary as ever. Thanks to significant leaps in modern printing technology, new designs and concepts are coming to fruition each and every day.
Most modern signs are made from compost materials such as reinforced plastics or fiber-polymers in addition to a wide variety of metals, ceramics, and other textiles.
Ultra-violet resistant paints protect the unique advertising of your business shielded from the sun, while all-new laminated printing technology allows designers to create displays that can withstand severe weather and outdoor forces of all kinds.
With technology like this, there’s never been a better time to invest in an amazing sign for your business, organization, or office.
To learn more about what Bartush Signs is capable of, click here to check out some of our most impressive work! When you’re ready to take your display game to the next level, don’t hesitate to contact us to set up a free consultation.