Is eBay the Future Home for Dead Neon Signs?

Star View Motel, Established 1945, RIPThis vintage neon sign can be yours… if the price is right!

A few weeks ago I posted about my recent trip to Las Vegas and in my post mentioned that I took a few photos of demolition people tearing down the old Sky View Motel in Boulder City, NV. Some people wondered and asked about what would happen to the beautiful neon sign that sat on the corner outside the property. More and more classic American neon signs are being torn down either as businesses are being razed or simply torn down and replaced by ugly plastic alternatives. This movement towards tearing down beautiful old neon signs / uglifying America is part of what has me so interested in shooting as many of them as I can to preserve at least an image of the sign before they are gone.

A lot of times these old signs simply are trashed. That’s what happened last year to the Walter Bennett Camera store in Oakland I understand. Museums like the MONA in Los Angeles, the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, and the Neon Museum of Philadelphia, have begun trying to save and preserve many of these vintage signs.

While I was down visiting the MONA over Christmas I was talking to the guy working the museum there and he was telling me that more and more these vintage signs were becoming valuable items for collectors. He told me that the MONA had just sold their neon diver for thousands of dollars to a collector who had a bunch of large vintage neon signs around his swimming pool. (Now that’s something I’d like to see and shoot!).

And like anything that collectors are interested in these days, I thought it was interesting when Flickr user call to preserve pointed out on my recent photo of the Star View Motel neon sign that it is now for sale on eBay. And it made me wonder if eBay is becoming the de facto home for old vintage neon signs, rather than simply scraping them. I suppose in some ways it’s good to see that some aren’t being totally destroyed. On the other hand, I sure do hate it when great art goes into the hands of greedy collectors who simply lock it up in their mansions, never allowing the rest of the world to see it.

The Destruction of the American Motel

If you’re interested in the old Sky View Motel neon sign it can be yours for a song — $1,500 as a buy it now item to be exact. Of course you do have to figure out how you are going to get to Boulder City Nevada (right away as the ad reads) and cut the puppy down as well as transport a 8ft by 20ft neon sign to your backyard somewhere. I might suggest getting a friend really, really, really drunk and then egging them on to buy it. It could be hilarious watching them try to take the thing down. Hopefully if nobody buys this one for $1,500 it still ends up in a neon museum’s collection somehow. It’s too pretty a sign to let it go to waste.

Recently when I visited the Neon Museum in Las Vegas they told me that a lot of these old signs are actually owned by sign companies and not by establishments themselves. That the sign companies simply lease them to property owners and then provide service as part of the deal. As often as Vegas neon turns over, sometimes this makes more sense for the casinos. In the case of this motel neon sign though, I suspect this one’s actually owned by the motel. It looks like it’s been there a long time.

For one of the funniest stories I’ve seen about a guy who bought a neon sign check out this video here. Warning, there is a lot of swearing in the video but you should definitely consider watching it if you care at all about the preservation of American signs.

You can see my complete collection of neon sign photos here. You can see my collection of motel neon signs here. You can see my photos from Los Angeles MONA museum here.

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7 Comments

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  3. Ed says:

    Just thought you might be interested in this article from L Magazine: http://www.thelmagazine.com/newyork/the-best-old-neon-signs-of-nyc/Content?oid=1227937
    I think you could do NY neon some justice!

  4. Thomas Hawk says:

    What a wonderful article Ed. Thank you for sharing that.

  5. peaxackinna says:

    Thank you looking for details. It helped me in my assignment

  6. i sell some stuffs on ebay too and i can earn tons of bucks from it”~;

  7. i love to shop on ebay because it is very convenient and the price are very cheap too~.: