c1905 Bowling and Billiards
PORCELAIN ADVERTISING SIGN
54 Inches wide by 18 inches tall
Made by Ingram-Richardson, Beaver Falls, PA
Found at 2012 Old West Antiques Show, Grass Valley CA.
This last weekend I attended the once a year the Old West Antiques Show in Grass Valley CA and found this Bowling and Billiards sign. It’s cobalt blue porcelain, 54” wide x 18” tall. I’ve been attending this show for about ten years and this is one of the best pieces I’ve picked up there. The show is known for having great quality, one of the last great shows going. I had to give serious money but now that I’ve had time to digest it I’m very glad I pulled the trigger! A lot of both Bowling and Billiards were played in Europe in the 19th and early 20th century….But this sign in pure 100% American, prominently marked Federal Electric Co. Chicago Patn’d!!!!
As far as American Bowling Billiard signs go, I can’t imagine a better one! To understand this sign and it's importance, it would be necessary to understand that any sports related signs from the turn of the century are rare. Porcelain ones however hardly exsist. That's why even though it was way more than I wanted to spend that day, intuition compelled me not to leave without it. That same morning I had won a rare polo bronze by A. Guiet on eBay and was hoping to not spend more than $300.00 - $400.00 at the show. You can see a very rare Spalding sign at the end of this feature...and I believe I've seen maybe just a couple other porcelain sports signs over twenty five years collecting. However I believe this may be the largest sports related porcelain sign known!
On table as found at show
When I first saw it on the sellers table it had another sign in front of it and I didn’t recognize what it said…I could only see the word billiards partially and I initially dismissed it as some kind of sign for a lawyer or something named “Billard”….then as I moved the other sign out of the way to see it I still didn’t quite get what it said right away…it had some funky plastic wrap on the ends that were holding together that aluminum frame and it just threw me off….then when I stepped back and realized what it was I got the full impact and went on full alert….For me it was pretty much the best thing I saw at the show….I really didn’t want to spend the money but I knew it was the best Bowling Billiards sign I’d probably ever see so…the ball started rolling and after a little walking around I went back to negotiate the price…The guy said he initially was asking $ ______ but that he would take $_______ ….then within a minute he dropped it $50.00….then as I kept looking at it he dropped it to $______ I said…well…if you’re in the mood to bargain how about $_______ He
immediately shot back $50.00 over my offer….and he pretty much had me…..then again without even asking he goes….tell ya what…make it cash and I’ll go your
$______... done deal I gave him $100.00 cash and told him I was going to the bank and would be back shortly with the balance…he goes…here take it with you…so I took it out to my car and quickly learned it wouldn’t fit in my trunk by only a few inches….which meant sticking up out my convertible….which I latter ended up having to put up the top on the way home…
Carlton outside Old West Show
Once home I got that funky home spun aluminum frame off and it bowed a little.…I guess the seller had the frame on to keep it straight but the little bit of bow doesn’t bother me at all. Funny thing is I drove three hours to get to the show and bought the sign from a dealer I see once a month at Alameda. He’s a very serious San Francisco collector…I think it was about a year or so ago he sold an extremely rare 19th century San Francisco baseball scene photo for $10,000.00. He must have already spent the money cause he said the only reason he was selling this sign was he was buying some rare cdv of an Indian, or gold prospector, or some kind of old west image……he had me pay the money directly to the guy he was buying it from!...a win-win for everybody!
It’s a mystery how it was originally displayed and mounted. All six holes are jagged on the back side, not drilled clean. It appears the holes are not original and there never were any originally....and that someone pounded thru some nails to mount to a wall at some point after it was retired....Like maybe after the building was demolished, it was salvaged by some collector in the 1940’s-50’s and they nailed it to the side of a barn or something...without a lot of regard to value. So if correct there were never mounting holes I would think it would have had to have been framed in some fashion...maybe in a simple metal frame, mounted to a wall and lit with an over head outdoor light....I say lit because of the Federal Electric marking.
I think I’ve come to the conclusion if I get the sign restored it will look brand new which I don’t want. I don’t think it looks that bad in its present condition…any worse and I might have had to get it restored. If I don’t restore it at least anyone who sees it will be able to tell it’s an old original sign.
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Below, email correspondence with
Dan Van Kannel of Van Kannel Sign Restoration