Jul/Aug 2021 edition
Issue #17 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
Grading Condition Correctly and Consistently
Creating a rating scale that is easily understood was a daunting task. Different experts all have different opinions. My goal is always to convey the condition of an item as closely as I can and do it the SAME way EVERY time. Consistency is important so that everyone will be confident in the grading assigned to an item, whether it is purchased online or in person at an auction or event. Below is the definitive grading system we came up with in 2003.
*When referring to a “painted sign,” we are referring to a factory-painted sign, meaning that the signs were made in a factory by machines for the purpose of advertising. A hand-painted sign means that the sign was painted by hand, either by an individual or a smaller sign shop, so there are fewer of these made.
It is also important to consistently use the same terms when collecting petroliana. Below is a comprehensive glossary including abbreviations for this hobby.
“The Field” - is the center 2/3 of the sign, globe face, or can. (Generally this is where the logo, words, and any other design elements are within the sign.)
Gloss - is used to describe a porcelain enamel sign. When the gloss is in excellent condition, the sign actually looks like it is wet.
Shine - is usually used to describe a painted sign. The shine refers to the luster a sign has.
Color - If something is described as having good color, that means that the colors are bright, or the way that it looked when it was brand new
Tin or Metal - is a factory painted or silk screened sign.
Porcelain - is a sign that has enamel decoration baked or fired on it (enamel is a glass).
Repop - Repop is a word used to describe a reproduction of a sign. Reproduction signs have become quite prevalent in today’s world. Some repop signs are sold and advertised as a reproduction of an original. They are not deceptive and are often marked with the year they were manufactured. Unfortunately, not all repops are easily distinguishable. Many reproduction signs are not marked and some people make a practice of trying to deceive collectors into believing that they are originals. Always buy from a reputable seller or auction company. Buyer beware!
Fantasy - A product described as a fantasy item was never created as an original piece for advertising. It was created for the sole purpose decoration.
Repainted - If an item is described as repainted, that means that it has not been done professionally. It was done with a brush or spray can. This refers to all types of petroliana except for signs and globes.
Restored - If an item is described as restored, that means that it has not been restored professionally, but it has been done nicely. It may still have rust, pitting, sanding marks or paint runs. This refers to all types of petroliana except for signs and globes.
Professionally Restored - If an item is described as professionally restored, this means that it was done by a professional restorer or to their standards. You could call it to “top show car quality.” This refers to all types of petroliana except for signs and globes.
Touched Up Sign - If a sign is described as being touched up, this means that someone has tried to color-match chips in the paint or enamel to the surrounding area, but it has not been clear coated. Pictured above – Sunoco Oil sign with touched up paint.
Restored Sign - If a sign is described as being restored, this means that it has had all of its imperfections touched up and has been clear coated. It looks like a new sign with good gloss or shine.
In future columns we will outline ratings and terms for gas globes and oil cans.
To read more great columns like this one from Publisher auction expert Dan Matthews,
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