Vintage typography & lettering, part II - neons

In the second part of our journey through vintage letters we'll focus on signs, which lit up city streets for decades. We are experiencing a bit of a rediscovery of neons and are giving many of them a chance to shine again!



The first kinds of neons were created in during the Renaissance, but there was obviously no gas inside the glass tubes. In the XVII century French astronomer, Jean Picard made some experiments with nobel gas, and this was a kind of birth of the oldest neons. More experiments were made in the XIX century by Faraday and by Geissler. These experiments included, for example, covering glass pipes with various kinds of chemical coatings. The XIX century was also a time when pipes, known as "Moore's pipes" (from the name of Daniel McFarlan Moore) were used for the first time one a bigger scale. At the time, they were still not very lasting very long, so at the beginning of the XX century Georges Claude created a kind of pipe, which could be constructed industrially, last much longer before burnout, and be used on a wider scale. They became very popular in 1920's and 30's. This was arguably the golden age of neon signs, and cities all over the world were being lit up. 

And later? Well, it depends. In some countires they continued to be popular until the 1950's, later loosing popularity and having their come back in 1980's. In other countries, the greatest era of neons took a place in the 1960's and 70's. This includes many Eastern European cities, under communist rule. Unfortunately, many of them were abandoned or destroyed after this time. 


Today neons are often living their second life, and they are appreciated not only by niche enthusiasts, artists and art historians, but also simply by fans of old advertising and vintage style. Museums and exhibitions showcasing neons have been created in many cities around the world.

As there's no Vegas without neon signs, one of them is, of course, the Las Vegas Neon Museum, founded in 1996. Displayed outdoor ads and signs are placed here on over 6 acres:


A popular museum of neons (The Neon Muzeum) has been created in Warsaw, Poland in the city's oldest neighbourhood, the Praga District:


Another place, known as Neon Side Gallery has been arranged in Wroclaw:


And in Poznan, Poland where city streets where beautifully illuminated in the 1960's and 70's (a period also known as the "neonization" of Poznan), the city's National Museum also organized a special neon exhibition:

And here, check out a movie which shows the working process of making a contemporary neon (yes, this men is a hard worker!):

It's truly great to see that this kind of artwork is being rediscovered, and continues to generate enthusiasm and appreciation, and that there are people, who care to find, renovate these splendid signs, or to even take it a step further, and to create amazing new neon signs that can light up the world.

Sources and inspirations

For more inspirations - also check out these great instagram profiles showcasing vintage signs, neons, and letters:



Photo sources: New Old Stock (first photo)Magic Suitcase blog

Sources of contents:


>>> And if we're talking about Instagram, it's time for some good news - short time ago we also appeared on Instagram! Visit our Insta profile here: @ruemarcellin <<< 

Posted: Apr 29, 2015 | Tagged: ads, graphic design, lettering, neons, typography, vintage

comments powered by Disqus

Recent Articles


View Posts Tagged: