Alphabet Road Trip | the blog of Iskra Design

Vintage Sign on a Country Barn: De-evolution of a Brand

It’s summertime, and the bloggers get lazy. I haven’t posted anything in the Signs I Like department for a long time. I’ve been too busy in the studio to go on scouting missions. But I got out into the country last weekend, and the barn up the hill that I always loved as a child is unchanged and as photogenic as ever. Well, perhaps slightly more rustic, but thankfully “unimproved.” I had never noticed this sign before. It has grown very beautiful with the passage of time, and seems to express the essence of summer to me:


Surge Vintage Lettering Sign


Check out that crazy S and the g confidently heading out to dive into the swimming hole. As a civilian walking along a country road I would have no idea what this sign was about. In fact I thought it was an advertisement for a fizzy drink in a glass bottle that you might hold up to the sun while rafting down the Green River. But what it actually says is “Cleaner Milk, Faster Milking” and it advertises Surge milking equipment. You can see the sign and a terrific array of vintage signage and products by this company at the Surgemilker website. This page shows the evolution of the brand from 1916 to 2013. Quite an education in design without focus groups. I can just imagine the ad guys sitting around and talking about the masculine and feminine attributes and just how they should be reflected in the serifs. “Well, they are female cows. And the main buyers of milk are women.” “But who is actually buying the milker? Is it Mrs. Farmer or Mr.?” And so forth.

Because I can see from online research that this sign might be quite valuable and I wouldn’t want to encourage a tresspasser I will only say it is on a barn on a hill and it is bathed in the golden light of memory with a large snowy mountain behind it. It looks a little bit like this:


Barn Siding photo © Iskra Design


Signs I Like is a collection of sign photographs by myself and friends who treasure the quirky and the time-worn and the history typography tells us if we stop to look. All photographs © Iskra Design or the otherwise credited photographer.