How to tell the difference between a real Route 66 sign and a fake one

Summer is here and many of us want to go on vacation and what comes to mind is the famous ‘Mother Highway’ or Route 66.

Although Route 66 was deactivated in favor of Interstate 40 in the early 1970s, portions of the Highway still exist, some in large sections that run parallel to the modern Highway.

After a cross-country trip, why not a poster to help you remember your vacation?

If you take a look on eBay you will see a lot of ‘Authentic Route 66 Signs’, when in reality few if any of these are real. Most are made from original molds and recast in tin or steel.

So a few things to look for. We have all seen modern road signs and they are quite large. most 24 x 24. If you see an ‘Authentic’ Route 66 sign smaller than that, it’s most likely a fake.

However some of the signs were smaller but they were 1930s shield type and made of heavy gauge steel and very few survived and if they did they are in collections.

When you find a sign that is 24×24, look at it. It’s worn? Jagged? A ‘shadow’ sign post on the back from years of sitting outside? Also look around the mounting holes. Road Crews went hard on these signs, as treating them as a collectible was the furthest thing from their mind.

The mounting holes should show signs of chips and scratches where the bolts holding the sign in place were installed and removed.

Don’t be fooled by the reflective paint, some signs had it, some didn’t.

When you look at the sign and the back, look at the edges, are they worn and dirty or are they shiny metal?

Other factors such as stains, drip marks should run downwards, this is especially important on Kansas Sunflower signs. There are many out there, but they are a 99 highway backwards. Note that Route 66 ran only 2.3 miles, so while Kansas signs do exist, they are rare.

So, if you can’t inspect the sign in person, ask the seller to show you the back or edges and closing of the mounting holes.

Sometimes people will sell ‘NOS’ which is New Old Stock, but don’t be fooled, finding a stash of Route 66 signs in a deserted Highway Department sign shop doesn’t happen anymore.

All of the tips above apply to most of the signs, some of the signs were mounted to the big green boards above the overpasses and may not have much sign of wear but over time and the elements of the part aluminum rear should have a cloudy type. appearance.

If you find an authentic sign, be prepared to spend some money, however most can be had for between $300 and $1000 and the competition on eBay can be fierce.

In my next article, I’ll go over how to spot a fake Route 66 reflective sign.