Written by Paul D. Race for Big Indoor TrainsTM
|This section replicates old-fashioned signage that you used to see on and around railroads. These are ORIGINAL art pieces. You are allowed to download them for your own use, or even to make signs for your friends. However, it is expressly forbidden to alter or to load on other people's web sites or to sell signs made with this artwork.
Protecting Sign FinishesIf you have an inkjet and want to use a sign outside, you will have to do something to protect the ink. Some folks glue the paper to the board they want to use, then use a clear spray coat such as an acrylic spray, and spray a tiny bit at a time (so the ink doesn't run) in many light passes until enough of the acrylic has soaked into the paper to protect it and a protective layer has formed over the ink. Even if you print on a waterproof medium (such as bumpersticker or label sheets) the ink may run if it gets rained on. Final results depend, frankly, as much on the kind of printer you have as anything else. But most people figure something out.
LegaleseBy downloading a sign, you accept the following conditions:
SignshopWe've just added several signs that we've been working on for a while. We plan to add more after we get caught up fixing other things on the site. In the meantime, please contact us if you would like to see a particular sign.
|No Spitting Sign - These signs were once critical when there were epidemics of tuberculosis and chewing tobaccco. Today, it's a friendly reminder that people shouldn't be rude in your back yard.
To download the free high-resolution "No Spitting" sign for your personal use, please choose a file type to download:
|Trainmen Only Sign - Today it may seem sexist, but this sign used to be a way of noting that only certain people were allowed certain places on railroad property. Today, it can be used as a "gentle reminder" that certain passageways or rooms are off-limits to visitors. Printed full size, this sign will be about 12.5" long, so you'll need to use legal-sized paper to get the "full" effect. Set your printer for "landscape" mode.
To download the free high-resolution "Trainmen Only" sign for your personal use, please choose a file type to download:
Trainwomen Only Sign - Okay, it's time to give the women their due. Printed full size, this sign will be about 12.25" long, so you'll need to use legal-sized paper to get the "full" effect. Set your printer for "landscape" mode. |
To download the free high-resolution "Trainwomen Only" sign for your personal use, please choose a file type do download:
Railroad Crossing Circle Sign - Some crossings were so rarely used that officials deemed that they didn't "deserve" a crossbuck or lights or gate. But you still needed to warn people to slow down and look. Because this sign is round, there's no point in supplying a version to fit on legal paper. However, the graphic is simple enough to work on a programmable craftcutter such as a Sillhouette, so we've provided a .svg file you can import into programs like "Sure Cuts-A-Lot." and resize up to the width of your craftcutter. (Note: This graphic can not be used on Cricuts.)
To download the free high-resolution Railroad Crossing Circle sign for your personal use, please choose a file type to download:
Railroad Crossbuck Lettering - Now here's the writing you're used to, if you live in North America, that is. The crossbuck is one of our most recognizable symbols of rail travel. The lettering on these is also unique. For this graphic, I actually traced a real crossbuck to get the right letter shape and spacing. I'm providing lots of different sizes for you to work with.
For folks who would like to use these as stencils to make real wooden crossbucks, I've adapted the letters to a stencil format (below right). Once you've used the stencil to paint sponge the letters on, you easily connect the little slots. Or even leave them disconnected, if you'd like.
I've also provided .svg files that you can import into software like "Sure Cuts-A-Lot." and use to print on a programmable craftcutter such as a Sillhouette. (Note: This graphic can not be used on Cricuts.)
To download the free high-resolution Crossbuck lettering for your personal use, please choose a file type to download. Note, most sizes require downloading two files - one that contains the words "R A I L" and "R O A D," and one that contains the word "C R O S S I N G." You can see from the little photo above how the pieces go together.
Ladies Bangs Curled - Okay, technically, this sign doesn't belong in a train room. Also, I know it's missing an apostrophe, but when I saw the original as a very small detail in a photograph of Atlantic City about 1910, I thought it would make a nice project. The original lettering is hand-painted so I strove to replicate the "feel," not the sign itself. In the photo all the ladies are wearing white, broadbrimmed hats, so the only part of their hair you could see was their bangs. Spending 15 cents to get a quick curl that would serve you just as well for the day as a "permanent" must have been tempting to some of the girls.
To download the free high-resolution "Ladies Bangs Curled" sign for your personal use, please click on the sign picture to the right above.
Lionel Electric Train Sign - For over a century, Lionel has delighted families with their sturdy, fun products. I based this old store sign on a really old rusted original I photographed at a flea market. I'll be honest, the Ande Rooney
sign is nicer. But you can print this one yourself and glue it to a board or whatever you want to do with it.
To download the free high-resolution "Lionel Electric Trains" sign for your personal use, please click on the sign picture to the right above.
Wells Fargo Handbill - Back when everything shipped by train, you could count on Wells Fargo to get your package right to the recipient's doorstep. The train would come in, and they'd load all the freight they'd received on a wagon (just like they load up the UPS trucks in the morning today), and the neighborhood kids would all follow the wagon around to see who was getting a package. (If this reminds you of a song from Music Man, that's because the song was inspired by a real "event" that took place at least once a week all over America for decades.)
This is, technically, a "handbill," something that the agent might have passed out on the street. As such, it included a handly list of things you might want to pack if you were heading West, including: One Sharp's rifle and 100 cartridges, a Colt's Navy revolver and two pounds of balls; a knife and sheath; a pair of woolen pants; a half-dozen pair of thick woolen socks, 5 undershirts; 1 pair of blankets in the summer and two in winter; a pair of gauntlets, etc.
However, it was also designed to be used as a "mini-poster" of sorts, and could be pinned up on the bulletin board of the station or anywhere people could see it.
This is a scan of a reproduction, but the small print is nearly as hard to read on the originals.
To give you maximum flexibility, we have three versions of this illustration:
Well Fargo Diamond Logo - Most Well Fargo signs were rectangular or square. We'll try to get to one of those later. But while I was researching the handbill above, I came across this configuration. At first I wondered of Ande Rooney or one of the other "store-bought" sign replicas had made it up, but I found some antique ones that were obviously original, so I worked from those. The original typeface was too decayed to trace, but it was very close to "Bookman," including the slight S-curve in the ampersand's "straight" line. So I worked with the standard Bookman face that used to come with every Postcript-capable printer.
I can't help but wonder if this diamond configuration, rare in the original, was an attempt to compete with the Railway Express Agency's ever-present red diamond logo.
I tried to track down the Ande Rooney version of this to give you a "store-bought" alternative, but it seems to be discontinued. But you can print this one yourself and glue it to a board or whatever you want to do with it.
To download the free high-resolution "Well Fargo Diamond Logo" sign for your personal use, please click on the sign picture to the right above.
"Store-Bought" SignsAlthough we will try to add signs here occasionally, you may want to see what other folks have available ready-made. We've put a couple Amazon links to signs you might like on this page. If you want to see nearly three hundred of the best "vintage-style" signs that are commercially available, check out the Ande Rooney's Porcelain Signs on Amazon.
Or you could check for:
Please stop by every once in a while - we DO have some other signs planned. Again, please contact us if you would like to see a particular sign.
Note: Big Indoor Trains(tm), Big Train Store(tm)m Family Garden Trains(tm), Big Christmas Trains(tm), and Garden Train Store(tm) are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications(tm) (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 by Paul D. Race.
Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically
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