Sunday, April 26, 2009

Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor: Let the Buyer Beware. I check in with e-bay every few days to see if there is anything new of interest to me. Seems like there is always something: old maps, old signs, even an occasional traffic signal.

Something that caught my interest this week was a replica of a US 666 sign with the following description:

...BEAUTIFUL REPRODUCTION OF A NEW MEXICO US ROUTE 666 HIGHWAY SIGN WITH 1'' CATSEYE REFLECTORS CIRCA 1930'S..THIS WAS AN ACTUAL ROAD CALLED ''THE DEVIL'S HIGHWAY'' BECAUSE OF THE NUMBER 666 ANS ALSO BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH A DANGEROUS DEADLY ROAD TO DRIVE ON. IT WAS ALSO NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP SIGNS ON AS THEY WERE STOLEN BY COLLECTORS AS SOON AS THEY WERE INSTALLED. THE ROAD WAS REDESIGNATED WITH ANOTHER # IN THE 70'S.
MADE BY A NOTED ARTIST WHO SPECIALIZES IN PROVIDING ACCURATE AGED SIGNAGE FOR PERIOD FEATURE FILMS, THESE SIGNS ARE MADE AS PER THE ORIGINALS OF 14 GA. STEEL WITH 1/2'' GLASS ''CATSEYE'' REFLECTORS. FULL SIZED AT 24''X24'' THESE 11 LB. SIGNS HAVE A NICELY AGED AND RUSTED PATINA AS PER THE PHOTOS. EVERYONE WHO BUYS THESE SIGNS IS ASTONISHED AT THEIR QUALITY AND REALISM AND THEY HAVE FOOLED THE EXPERTS AS TO THEIR TRUE AGE. I SELL THESE SETS TO RESTAURANT AND THEME DECORATORS FOR ANYWHERE UP TO 2500.00 - 3000.00 A SET
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Very interesting reading, except US 666 was replaced in 2003, NOT the 70's (it parent US 66 was decommissioned in 1985). Also, many of the signs were 16x16, not 24x24. Now here's the kicker: this is what one of the replica signs looks like:
Notice anything odd? To a casual observer, it may look like just an old highway sign. To a Road Scholar/Roadgeek, there are a number of discrepancies. For one, the New Mexico legend is in a serif font. Official US signage has never used a serif font. Secondly, the numbers 666 are too rounded. On a true sign, the numbers would be more square (at least in the 1930's when button-copy signs were still used). Thirdly, the overall shape of the sign is off. The shape looks bloated.

I'm sure someone will buy this sign thinking it's the real deal or an exact replica. Sadly, it's neither. It's a cheap imitation trying to pass as legit. For the sake of comparison, here is an illustration of a real sign courtesy of David Kendrick's Shields Up! :
Major difference, eh? If you really want one of those fake replicas, go ahead. As for me, I want the real thing or an exact replica.

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