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One of biggest differences between old and new neon is manner in which each is illuminated. Old neons use heavy transformers made from wrapped copper wire coiled around an iron core, all of which weighs several pounds. The good part about weight is that signs or designs stay right where you put them, on table or shelf. The new neon signs, however, use lightweight transistorized transformers that weigh mere ounces in comparison. Therefore, new signs have to be weighted down somehow or bracketed against wall so they won't fall over and break. And yet, many collectors prefer them.
According to LaDean Harlow, owner of The Neon Lady in St. Louis, MO ...the "Red Dog" beer sign is most popular these days. "Baby Boomers, 90's collectors, are choosing new signs," she says. "They like Budweiser Frog, their Palm Tree and red Guitar, too."
A good marketing ploy by beer companies combines their neon ad with a favorite sports team logo. These signs are particularly popular with rabid hockey and basketball fans. Sometimes a beer company pays up to half price of signs and charges it to their advertising division; thus, these beer signs costs much less to consumer than other competitive brand beer signs.
Further evidence of neon's renewed popularity is growing list of neon specialty shops in Yellow Pages. Many of business names are quite colorful: Neon City, Neon Works, Signs of Distinction to name but a few.
The neon manufacturing companies are found in all parts of a city too, rehab areas, as well as, avant-garde and affluent sections. Best of all, neon sites can now be found on Internet World Wide Web. Jacob Fishman and other artists sell competitively on Web. "We can compete," says Fishman. "My work, for example, runs from $150 to moon!" (Writer's note: Actually, Jacob's artistic Moon sells for quite a bit less than real thing.) The Albuquerque, NM web site at http://www.wingspread.com/ab/abfa03.html sponsored by Wingspread publications features some outstanding photographs of large historic signs, as well as, new Neon commercial signs along old Highway 66.
New Marketing Technologies (NMT) at http://www.neonsign.com offers both new neon signs for sale and a search service for old neon signs, especially beer signs. Some of old rare signs sell for several hundred US dollars, even if they don't work!
William Cherry, President of NMT, says that many of his search requests or special new orders come from Europe. "Although Neon was invented in France, virtually no one in Europe makes neon now," he says. "Just last week we shipped a new sign crafted like a leading German beer logo. The person who ordered gift for beer baron had to put call out to America."
NMT is always on lookout for "Spotters" -- people who seek particular old signs to fill NMT orders. If you have access to an e-mail address and want to treasure hunt on commission, contact NMT at firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions.
If you are looking for a favorite old sign for your collection or want to sell one that's been gathering dust in your basement or attic, e-mail want to treasure hunt on commission, contact NMT at email@example.com or write: New Marketing Technologies, Inc., 15505 Bull Run Road, Suite 294, Miami Lakes, FL 33014 or call (305-822-8842). They'll put out word to world.
It would seem that a collector's preference for old or new neon is strictly personal. The prices in either group are similar; colors used and variety of designs are also comparable unless s/he leans more toward one-of-a-kind, price-is-no-object creations, rather than advertising signs. The photographs accompanying this article are of old and new neon signs. Here, one may feast upon contrasting, though necessary physical characteristics of neon, it's rigidity and fragility of materials that assure a most unique artful drawing in light. Bon Appetite!
JOAN BRAMSCH is a family person, educator, writer and E-publisher. Her articles appear internationally in print and online. Six of her best-selling adult novels - near one million copies - have worldwide distribution. Her Empowered Parenting Ezine serves 1000 parents around the globe. http://www.JoanBramsch.com mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org