SAHARA Highlights: Signs

by Jacqueline Spafford and Jeffrey Klee, SAHARA Co-Editors | Dec 04, 2018

We were struck by how many wonderful examples of signs are documented in the SAHARA collection, and have made a small selection here to show the breadth. While searching the image library we also stumbled across this helpful glossary of sign terms and definitions—a ready-made roadtrip game!

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No collection of signs is complete without a view of the Las Vegas Strip. Photo by Richard Longstreth, ca. 1975.

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This metal silhouette-style sign was apparently also used for target practice. Burlington, NJ, 1987. Photo by Dell Upton.

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What does this store sell, you ask? The Posthumuswinkel shop in Amsterdam has been selling rubber stamps since 1865. Photo by Dell Upton, 2017.

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Handsome lettering and a stylized eagle designed by Jan Golinski, at the Office of Telecommunication, Postal Services and Telephone, Warsaw, Poland (architect: Julian Puterman-Sadlowski), 1928-34. Photo by Anna Jozefacka, 2012.

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Neon sign at the Alabama F. and A.M. Prince Hall Grand Lodge, the “Colored Masonic Temple,” Birmingham, Alabama, 1922-23. Photo by Dell Upton, 2009.

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This helpful sign tells you a lot about Ukiah, California. Photo by Dell Upton, 1984.

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When bigger is better: The Best Products Catalog Showroom, Langhorne, Pennsylvania, by Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown, 1977-78. Photo by Richard Longstreth, 1982.

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Modern sign on a ca. 1950s grain depot, converted in 2015 to the Red Memories Conference Center, Xinxiang, Henan, China. Photo by Dell Upton, 2016.

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Finally, this great example of mimetic signage uses two-by-fours as French fries.  Cantine la Crevettiѐre, Petite Matane, Québec, ca. 2000; Photo by Dell Upton, 2013.




Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.
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