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Draplin Design Co., North America


It’s the little things that can get you out here. All the shit we take for granted back in Portland, amplifies in difficulty out here. We had to reformat a couple ads this morning, to ship out there to California for a snowboarding magazine. Easy, right? Well, what usually takes us a good, honest hour or so out west, took us the better part of the morning. Things like “burning a disc inside some yuppie Panera Bread joint” (POACH TIP: good, strong, free wireless…) and then, “driving all over hell trying to find a Kinko’s” made for some interesting cockpit cursing outbursts. So lost.

We got the ads off, and, snowboarding is better for it. Maybe.

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But, fuck all that talk about business. Let’s talk signs. Old signs. The kind that make us want to keep living. Today, friends, we took a tour of one of America’s premier “Holy Grail” vintage signage destinations, Cincinnati’s own, “The American Sign Museum.”

Now, I had heard of this thing some time back, as, I’d seen the website and scoured every page for their wealth of examples, history and vintage gear. But, I assumed it was only an “online” deal. Not the case. Read on…

I got my work done and put a call into Campbell and he Googled that shit right quick for me and offered up some numbers. Then, I called Baker and had him Google it again, just for good measure. But a couple blocks later, I was on the phone with Tod from the museum, navigating the city streets to find the joint. He directed me in all the way in. (Thank you for the patience and good tips.)

Tod gives tours by appointment, so, I was lucky to catch him there tidying up the joint before a large group showed up. He let me in, showed me the workshop where they refurbish these beauties and then turned the juice on in the main room for the sign tour. Absolutely amazing. All of it.

Tod Swormstedt comes from a long line of sign enthusiasts. His greatgrandfather was the editor for the first issue of “Signs Of The TIme” and that then, as fate would have it, Tod worked the magazine for some 26 years until he started the museum with a grant from the company that publishes the magazine these days. Non-profit in nature, he rescues signs and refurbishes them for the museum. Due to his sign industry connections, many are donated. So good. A suitable home for these treasures.

266. “The American Sign Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio.”
267. “I was greeted by this big bear.”
268. “HoJo’s, in two pieces.”
269. “HoJo’s, up real close.”
270. “Stag Beer, pride of St. Louis, Mo.”
271. “The entrance to the museum…”
272. “Go!”
273. “Hartunian Persian Rug Co.”
274. “Glass tubes, waiting for neon life.”
275. “C. Steiner.”
276. “Hayford Bros. Glass Co.”
277. “The Museum.”
278. “The mean green of that Holiday Inn.”
279. “Missoula Drug Co.”
280. “Paint swatches.”
281. “Gold Leaf mastery.”
282. “Sign-making kits of the masters.”
283. “Couldn’t get enough of this stuff.”
284. “Tons and tons to see.”
285. “I have this very set: Duro “Sign Maker”, Chicago, Ill.”
286. “Neon clock/flip-ad display.”
287. “A backlit “N” that stopped me in my tracks.”
288. “H.”
289. “Letters.”
290. “Tod Swormstedt.”

There Are 2 Comments

Aaron, great, complete, responsible postings.
I wish your images had a forward/ back button. Look into “Slideshow Pro”. Real easy. Could change the way you do images, but works nice.
Look forward to having/ seeing/ reading/ chilling with you back in PDX. Hope the travails change your mind about many things.

Posted by: Vince on 09/15/06 at 1:02 PM

Hi I have a sign from America it has artkraft on it and was wondering if you could help me to see what it is

Posted by: Rob gibson on 06/08/15 at 12:38 PM
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