This is painted wooden sign is truly a piece right out of the history books. One side is painted with Wells Fargo & Co Express and the other side American Railway Express. One side is upside down from the other.
The sign is thick wood painted with gold gilt lettering and traces of the original schmaltz background paint. There has been some touch up work done specifically on the American Railway Express side. The entire edge of the sign appears to have been touched up with dark paint and a wax cleaning. However the lettering and most of the background are original.
The history of this sign is most interesting. American Railway Express, Inc. was established by the United States Railway Administration in 1918, as part of the federal government’s takeover of the country’s rail system as a safety precaution during World War I. American Railway Express consolidated the parcel-shipment services of Wells Fargo and Company and other parcel shippers, essentially creating a monopoly. The agency’s main competitor was the U. S. Post Office, which introduced its parcel post service in 1913. After the war, the government returned control of the railroads to their owners, and Railway Express was controlled by the numerous railroads in proportion to the amount of express traffic on their lines. In March 1929, the assets and operations of American Railway Express Inc. were transferred to Railway Express Agency (REA).
However to say that the American Railway Express Co. consolidated is sort of a "kind" interpretation. The government sponsored move actually forcefully took over the delivery service business of Wells Fargo and other delivery companies, leaving Wells Fargo with one bank location in San Francisco. This was also the beginning of the U.S. Postal service.
This sign was obviously originally a Wells Fargo Express & Co sign, then following the take over the sign was flipped over and American Railway Express was painted on the second side. This would have been around the 1918 time frame. The Wells Fargo side of the sign is an early sign.
The sign is 70" long x 9 1/4" high and 7/8" thick. Good solid flat sign. We have added old iron eye hooks for hanging to both top and bottom depending on which side you want to be upright not upside down. these could easily be removed, your choice.
Antique Wells Fargo and American Railway Express Wooden Sign