Recent Rescues

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UPDATE: The collection is featured in a 6-page color spread in the Sept/Oct 2010 issue of Maryland Life  Magazine.  

New to the collection:

Beltway Cleaners, Hendler's Ice Cream, Laurel Hardware, Coopers Camera Mart                        

  Delighting thousands of motorist daily, the neon Beltway Cleaners sign was a true landmark for over half a century. At one time animated, The Harford Road business is located just inside the beltway. It was lovingly maintained by the owners. The end came in May 2008, when new sidewalks were being installed by the county. A sub-contractor in a front-end loader became wedged under the sign, compromising its integrity. After the emergency removal several hours later, It was deemed not salvagabe, however is safe to display in a museum setting.  Still very much in operation, the Cleaners currently has no plans for a new sign. Only a steel pole stands. Designed, built, installed, maintained, and finally, removed by Triangle Signs.

UPDATE: Beltway Cleaners was out of business as of 2012.

Driving out North Point Road near Fort Howard, one would pass a long-closed general store on the left. Fort Howard Supply was once an Esso gas station, with the store selling the basic staples one in the then pre-695 residents of this still sleepy area may need. One of the best regarded Ice Creams' was locally made Hendler's. Sold at this store for until it disappeared in the late 1960's, the Hendler 'swinger' sign was left behind. This faded ghost was becoming a safety hazard by 2008.  The very welcoming family allowed me to remove it, mast pole and all, in August 2008.

Operating for over half a century, Cook's Laurel Hardware was a fixture in Laurel. Located on Main Street, it closed on August 2, 1997. It was the great old store our grandfathers patronized or would shoot the bird with the owner. Wood floor, tin ceiling, great old fixtures. The old smell. The store lasted until August 2, 1997 when its contents were auctioned off. I was outbid on its classic neon sign, which swung over the sidewalk. The half-block long building (with a half-acre in the rear) was promptly demolished and re-developed as senior housing. Eleven years later, I was able to acquire the 400-pound sign from its owner, a coffee shop across the street, which had displayed it.

Located about a mile north on the same Harford Road, Coopers' Camera Mart operated for six decades. Located in downtown Hamilton, The original sign featured stylish channel letters incorporating red neon. The raceway mimmics an unwound section of film with exposed neon units, advertising Kodak.  Coopers' was sold to another DC-based family camera operation, Penn Camera. The store re-opened as Penn, a few miles away, in Pikesville.

 

ALSO: PHOTOS ADDED OF MISC. BALTIMORE SIGNAGE ON PAGE 5 OF THIS SITE....

RECENT LOSS ...March 2010...My 88' long F.W. WOOLWORTH CO.  neon sign lost to snowstorm...see page 8.

NEW TO COLLECTION...April 2010...Lighted swinger from 1922 "St. Casimers Building and Loan Ass'n." It is now my earliest example of a backlit sign...Incandescent lamps...plate glass faces...pics coming soon.

The old 4-point flasher remains inside. this made the arrow animate on a 4-section chaser. It must have been a real attention graber! (Sign ordinances of the 1970's put and end to almost all neon animation).

While pressed-tin signs for the big Ice Cream makers (Hershey's, Sealtest, Breyer's.....) were common in the 1940's, locally produced Hendler's Ice Cream signs are now very rare. I have never seen another one in 25 years of documenting and collecting. This will be lovingly restored, along with its 20' mast pole and porcelain angeled button lights. Check out my very rare Hendler's neon, on the 'Drug Store' page of this site.

HIDDEN MESSAGE! I discovered the lower portions, or 'Cook's' panels were lay-overs, concealing the original message. Lucas Paints were manufactured in Pennsylvania for about 75 years when bought out by Sherwin-Williams, in the early 1950's. The owner of Laurel Hardware had his name added to the sign to cover over the Lucas paints portion, which only was exposed for about the first ten years of the life of the sign. I also discovered the faded nameplate of the original manufacturer of the sign...Triangle in Baltimore. The 'John Tingen' lettering was probably from the time the 'Cooks' layovers were created.

  Better late than never! I lost the bid on this in 1997, but was able to rescue it in 2008. This 1940's porcelain swinger featured neon in 3 colors (removed in the picture).  It was at home in a coffee shop, across the street from the Hardware store location, for eleven years.  Recently closed, the coffee shop was contacted and agreed to let me give it a good home.  The 400-pound, 6' by 6'  beauty was built by John Tingen Signs, of Upper Marlboro, MD.

Coopers' Camera Mart was still faithfully lighting at dusk, even after the store had moved. I have yet to determine who fabricated the 4' tall by 16' long sign.
Crane truck guy Chris carefully lowers the main portion of the early 1950's display into the collection. The 'Your Kodak Dealer' neon units were temporarily removed to avoid damage.