On the Hunt for Boston’s Signtronix Signs
August 23, 2019 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Dave Hebb is on an epic quest to find all of Greater Boston's Signtronix signs. From Atlas Obscura, who joined Dave on his quest: Signtronix, a California-based sign manufacturer, caters to small businesses across the United States but as Boston continues to expand and build, these signs are increasingly being abandoned.

But Dave is not alone. On Facebook, the Gulf, Eycom, Signtronix signs group is unearthing these signs across the US.

And if you like classic signs in general, Flickr has you covered: Sign CityPlastic SignageI Love Old Signs!
posted by capricorn (17 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
After watching the video, I realized there's a Signtronix sign right near me, and I've seen lots more like it! I'm excited to try and purposely spot them as I wander around DC.
posted by capricorn at 11:24 AM on August 23 [2 favorites]

Huh. I drive by the Signtronix building in Torrance, CA daily. From their current modern-looking exterior I never would have guessed they used to make those cool old-timey signs. I will say that I give the place the side-eye every time I go by because the sign they have outside of their business now reads, "Making Signs Great Again", and I'm not sure how to interpret that.
posted by spudsilo at 11:39 AM on August 23 [4 favorites]

Getting any information about that style of sign was an Ask Metafilter question I never got around to posting. I've wondered about those since I was a kid.
posted by tss at 12:38 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]

I live in the area and have seen many of the signs he photographed - the Lechmere snack bar in particular! What a wonderful tour of something that normally passes unremarked!
posted by scolbath at 12:54 PM on August 23 [3 favorites]

I will say that I give the place the side-eye every time I go by because the sign they have outside of their business now reads, "Making Signs Great Again", and I'm not sure how to interpret that.

If you Google "Signtronix", the reviews of their business suggest things have really gone downhill, so them having crummy political views is just terrible icing on a terrible cake I guess. But I do think the historical signs are really neat!
posted by capricorn at 1:48 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]

I really like the idea of "only three words" per sign. Focus, people!
posted by shoesfullofdust at 3:48 PM on August 23


Obviously, all the signs don't fit this pattern. But they are the ones I like most of all.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 4:14 PM on August 23

I want to collect these. Why isn't he trying to buy the hot dog sign?

Too bad they are shitty.

The woman who's kept the sign because of her husband...

Dusty in here.

Wish my obsession led to cool interactions like this.
posted by Windopaene at 5:18 PM on August 23 [1 favorite]

Thank you for this! I used to see TROLLEY SNACKS & MORE all the time; my business took me to the stop on a weekly basis. The sign always caught my attention because it was of a type I dated to the '60s or '70s, with businesses that were either dead or too tough to die. They can often be seen in the Mississippi Delta, bleached by rain and sun, with diamond insets and ancient logos.

TROLLEY SNACKS was usually closed, but I sometimes saw the windows open. They had an assortment of things, including hot beef patties, advertised on torn-out notebook paper, that I figured were probably made by a local Jamaican and might have been very good. I think I bought a Diet Pepsi once or twice on a hot day, but mostly they didn't have anything I needed. There was a Finagle a Bagel across the street if you needed lunch right at the T station. A couple of blocks down is a mall with a food court. TROLLEY SNACKS had outlived its purpose.

The whole T stop is awkward now, and although it has a little of the charm of an early 20th century building that has obviously been outpaced by need and growth, it's mostly uncomfortable and odd. I hate it when I agree that a building needs to be torn down and replaced.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:31 PM on August 23 [8 favorites]

The PROPER IMAGE HAIR SALON sign at 1:24...

The image of that couple sends me off thinking about race in about 10 different ways all at once.
posted by hypnogogue at 7:51 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]

This is pretty great - never knew about these signs being from one place. I'm often skeptical about needing video, but some of the people they talk to incidentally do make it worth it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:00 PM on August 24

Looking at the Facebook page it sounds like Signtronix might be going out of business, but also that Sarah Ginsburg and Dave Hebb are doing more episodes on these signs:
This is only the first step in what I envision to be much bigger, ongoing, multi-faceted project that includes 4-5 more episodes, a map-based submittable online archive/catalog, a physical zine, an installation and photography show and more.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:08 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]

I love everything about this. Thank you, capricorn.
posted by Gotanda at 6:07 PM on August 24

Huh! I instantly recognized the type of sign, but I had no idea it was a single company. As Countess Elena said, it identified a business "either dead or too tough to die".
posted by tavella at 7:37 PM on August 24

Oh, man, this is gonna turn into another one of those Things I Can't Not Notice. Very neat stuff.
posted by cortex at 3:15 PM on August 25

it sounds like [...] Sarah Ginsburg and Dave Hebb are doing more episodes on these signs

Oh yay, I can't wait! This is such a fun project.
posted by capricorn at 12:42 PM on August 29

I have mentioned on more than one occasion signs on old shops "kind of like a rectangle but more like a squashed CRT TV". This is answering a lot of questions for me.
posted by those are my balloons at 3:56 PM on August 31

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