Railway Express Arrow Porcelain on Steel Sign

This unusual Railway Express sign is a directional arrow that would have been used in a railroad station or a business pointing customers to the REA office to pick up and deliver shipments.

It is a heavy, solid, porcelain on steel. When you run your finger over the surface, you can tell that the white background was applied first, then the yellow and then the black lettering and edging around the arrow.

This sign is just under 23 inches long and is 6-1/4 inches wide. It is 1/16 inch thick solid sheet steel and weighs 2-1/2 pounds (before packing).

IMPORTANT: The colors are solid and completely even. We had a very difficult time photographing this -- it looks like there are "shadows" dark and light spots because the surface is so bright and shiny!! Any "shadows" "light spots" or off color areas are reflections, even in the white areas~!

CONDITION is excellent with bright colors and no stains. PLEASE LOOK AT OUR PHOTOS. The worst damage is a flake in the yellow arrow below the "Y". There is a 1/4-inch flake on the top edge directly above the "R" in "Express." Both could be restored/repaired/touched up readily. There is very minor (expected) light surface scratching (hard to see unless you pick up the sign and tilt it in bright light), mostly above "WAY". There is very minor edge flaking, and there is very minor wear around the grommet holes.

One grommet is missing. The other three appear original and are present but are loose.

On the back, someone hand lettered the word ROOMS, and must have used the sign for a tourist home or boarding house in years past. The paint is old and weathered. We have NOT tried to remove it, nor have we done anything to clean the sign. (We think that probably using it for "ROOMS" helped preserve the arrow side in such nice condition, with that side out of the weather and likely even against a wall.)

With its close ties to railroadiana, this sign is a terrific find for collectors!

REA Express BACKGROUND: According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the REA was created by the U. S. Railroad Administration in 1917 when the government created the American Railway Express Company by nationalizing the express shipping businesses of the Adams Express Company and its subsidiary Southern Express Company; the American Express Company; and Wells Fargo & Company Express. Then in 1920 these three companies (each owning one-third of the business) sold it to the railroads, and the name was changed to Railway Express Agency, or REA.

The shipping business took off and the REA soon became first choice among the shipping companies, moving railcars and providing terminal space, paying its own bills and dividing the profits equitably among the railroad owners. The company was famous for accepting shipments of items that trucking companies either refused or could not manage. Following World War II, profits diminished as traffic decreased, passenger service ended and truck competition began in earnest. REA was finally sold in 1969, with the name changing to REA Express.

Item ID: 2566

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