Vintage Thermometer Advertising Pieces

vintage thermometer advertising that was once part of an advertising display in a store or public space may hold artistic, historical and financial value. Many of these items were designed with the names and logos of businesses, as well as other graphic elements popular at the time of their production, such as decorative borders, images and lettering. Some also included standard Fahrenheit thermometers encased within metal or tin frames. Today, these pieces are often repurposed as decorative signs or wall hangings.

Thermometers became a popular form of advertising in the early 1900s as companies realized that coupling their name with an item people use regularly meant repeated exposure. These products were manufactured in a variety of styles and materials, from metals like tin and wood to porcelain enamel. They were commonly displayed in public spaces and on the walls of local businesses, including gas stations, service station businesses and local merchants such as bakeries, pharmacies and liquor stores.

Round thermometers featuring an indicator that moved based on temperature were common shapes, but many businesses went with a die-cut or rectangular sign that included a mercury thermometer mounted in the center. Some even featured hangers for easy hanging on a wall. These displays were ideal for a variety of businesses, including automotive, photography and healthcare industries, as well as World’s Fair expositions.

Some of these advertising thermometers were lithographed, with finely detailed artwork on both sides. Others were hand painted. The earliest were produced in tin, then later, as the technology improved, some were made of porcelain. As America became a more urbanized nation in the 1920s, these signs were increasingly seen as a way to engage with the public.

While the majority of these thermometers were used to advertise business, some were also made to promote specific events or eras. For example, a 1964-1965 World’s Fair thermometer featured an embossed depiction of the fair’s Trylon and Perisphere monuments. The value of these items can vary depending on their condition, style and how sought after they are by collectors.

A pristine, lithographed thermometer can sell for $250 or more. A hand painted one, such as a circa 1940s piece for Lawrence Brown Prime Meat Market, can fetch up to $500. Collectors appreciate these pieces for their unique designs and connection to an era of marketing and design, as well as their usefulness in measuring the temperature. 1stDibs has a wide selection of these antique thermometers for sale, with older models from the 19th Century and newer variations as recent as the 20th Century. Some of the best-selling thermometers are those associated with Mid-Century Modern and Folk Art designs. Thermometers for the Coca-Cola company and Peter Max are especially popular among collectors.