Old West Signs

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Old West Signs

Partly because of Hollywood, many of us have grown up with dozens of Old West cliches and quaint colloquialisms. The classic wit and wisdom of the Old West has been captured and preserved, not only on film and in literature but on vintage old west signs. Like any form of advertising, old west signs took on a life all their own and have become a favorite of collectors and fans of old west memorabilia.

The Old West evokes memories of a simpler time. By the thousands, folks migrated westward, some looking to find a place to homestead, while others were looking for a place to hide. Eking out a living from the land, settlers had to rely on their wits and common sense in order to survive. Life was hard but the rewards could be great. Along the way, a culture sprang up in the West that in many ways rejected the social constraints of life in the East.

Purveyors of frontier wit and wisdom had a knack for looking at the human condition in a very simple way. Whether looking at complex human emotions or just simple questions of right and wrong western witticisms that endure today. Vintage old west signs often reflected the events of the day, from the Buffalo Bills Wild West Show to the rustler's dance. Just like the tin and metal signs that came later, old west signs reflected the mercantile activities of the time.

Many frontier towns and settlements were veritable beehives of activity, from folks just passing through to those folks who have settled down. During the gold rush times in the Black Hills of South Dakota, famous outposts like Deadwood became the place to get supplies, a bath, a drink and a game of chance. Merchants, saloon keepers and the livery stable were kept busy supplying the prospectors and scallywags alike. The local saloon was likely to be the social center of a frontier town. The saloon might have been the place where business was conducted, where friends would meet or enemies might settle old scores and feuds. The frontier saloon may have doubled as the town restaurant.

The general store was the genesis of the modern department store, carrying all manner of goods from food staples to guns. Mining towns would have most certainly had a land claims office as a place to record mining claims. The same office might also have housed an assay operation where gold miners could determine the value of their latest find. The livery and stable was a place to get your horse groomed, grained and shod by the local blacksmith. You might have even traded for a fresh horse or a good pack mule.

Besides shoeing horses, the local blacksmith would have been an old west jack of all trades. From fixing broken wagon wheels and hitches to pounding out tools and barrel hoops, the town blacksmith would certainly have been one the most sought after people in town. The town smithy may also have been the local gunsmith, repairing the very firearms that helped win the Old West. The blacksmith's sign post might very well have been made out metal as reflection of his skill.

In spite of the driving frontier spirit that drove many folks westward in the wagons, most people still like their creature comforts. Barber shops, bath houses and hotels provided a brief respite from the rigors of the trail. Imagine the steam of hot bath, the smell of bay rum and a comfortable bed as an alternative to the dust, grit and danger of the trail. An old west sign would have listed the cost for a close shave and a hair cut.

Old West Signs Helped Tame The West

As part of this great migration west, the practice of medicine and law became a necessary art and lawyers and doctors soon began to hang out their shingles. The term shingle refers to the wooded sign that would be hung outside the doctor's or lawyer's office which often doubled as a residence. The town doctor would have performed a number of very important jobs. The town doctor may have assumed the role of midwife, counselor, coroner, and was generally held in high regard.

As issues land ownership and the need for the rule of law became more acute, it was not long before lawyers made their way west. Like the local doctor, a lawyer may have assumed multiple roles from legal counselor to judge to justice of the peace.

Death came early to many people in the old west and famous cemeteries like Boot Hill have become part of western lore. The local undertaker might have earned his living literally from the loose in the pockets of some poor prospector or sod buster. He too would have had a shingle sign hung outside advertising his services. One dollar pine boxes and a hole in the ground may have been advertised via a wooden sign hung outside. In fact, there was good chance that the grave marker would have been nothing more than a wooden sign, unless the deceased or the family had money for a stone.

Old west signs showed a good bit of character and originality and today's reproductions have captured the same spirit. What today is slowly becoming a lost art, sign painters and artisans of the time were able to make an honest living plying a trade that is being lost to computerized graphics. But all is not lost when it comes to finding unique, well crafted old west signs. Through the efforts of dedicated artists and modern methods, finding just the right old west sign is just a mouse click away.

At OldWestSigns.net, we offer a line of authentic old west signs that reflect the all of the wit and humor of yesterday and today. Made from solid, one half inch pine, these old west signs are the perfect accent for your home, office, rec room, even your barn. Whether you are a collector of Old West memorabilia of just want to add that Old West feel to your decor, check out the great selection at OldWestSigns.net.