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Shell Oil 1941 ArtKraft “Clamshell” Sign Restoration

August 4th, 2008 · 11 Comments

All Images are the Property of and Copyrighted to Vintage Vending Inc.

Restored Shell Sign

Shell Oil “Clamshell” Sign Restoration: Before and After

There are a lot of collectors who think that signs should never be restored or touched up in any way. Personally, I have never had a problem with it depending on the sign, where it would be used and how bad the condition was. You should be careful, however. In some cases, touching up a very valuable and rare sign may actually lessen the value of it. A lot of collectors will not even consider buying a sign that has had work done on it. But when I came across this 1941 ArtKraft Shell “Clamshell” sign I knew it was a great candidate to be made new again. This piece had once been a component of a Shell filling station sign. It was originally double-sided and placed on a pole. There were neon lights around the edges. And now that it was going to be the first thing you saw when you entered my office, I wanted it to be perfect.

As you can see from the “before” pictures, it had some chipping issues and had faded over the years. To correct it, the sign was lightly bead-blasted to rough up the porcelain finish and eliminate any rust. The missing porcelain was then repaired with body filler. The sign was hand-sanded, primed, hand-sanded again to get ready for paint. At this point the sign was painted with the base coat of yellow. Next came the tedious part of masking and taping off the red portion of the sign, which took many hours. The red was painted and the mask was peeled away. The sign was wet-sanded and then clear-coated and, most likely, wet sanded again.

I think it was well worth the effort. The sign is beautiful, a work of art and a wonderful piece of Americana.

This item is not for sale.
We show restored items in this blog to encourage discussion, prompt questions and further the hobby.

Production Notes:
This sign was painted with PPG paints. Not sure if the colors are 100% accurate to the original sign, but we liked them, so we used them.
Yellow DCC 83409
Red DCC 72356

Unrestored Shell Sign

Shell Sign

Tags: Gas Pumps & Station Items · Restorations by Vintage Vending Inc. · Shell Oil

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 dan // Jan 26, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    that is a work of art no matter what you did to it! i was just crusing around the net to find info to sell a sign i have had for 30 years in my “junk” room. it is faded a little and a few rust spost but is a little better than what you started with. i had hoped to restore it but age demands we downsize and move to cheaper digs in panama. i envy you and wish you many years of enjoying it. thanks for sharing it.

  • 2 Rod Reese // May 12, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I have one for sale good condition. Are you interested ?

  • 3 Maria // Aug 24, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    I might be interested in the sign, Rod, if it’s still available. Any chance you can send me a photo?

  • 4 Casey Casseday // Feb 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    My father just sold his Shell Station of 60+ years and I have several Vintage Globes from the 1940s as well as electric Shell clocks and signs from the 1960s. I don’t really know how to approach selling this stuff, you seem to really know what you’re doing.. Sincerely, kid with a bunch of antiques to sell. Casey Casseday

  • 5 Lynn Gorsh // Mar 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Enjoyed your article years ago I found a complete 1941 Art Craft Shell Clam sign (both halves) with all mounting brackets and brass tags. Neon tubes were broken. Would your recommend restoring or left original? Intend on mounting on outside pole with lighting. There is a long history regarding this sign. Inside my shop I have a corner office designed in the old shell gas station theme. Is there a phone number I can reach you at?

  • 6 roderick // Mar 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I would like to speak to you about restoring a sign like you did. Can I email you? Or anyone with any knowledge similar?

  • 7 Will Babb // Aug 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Hey, Shell sign people: I was with Shell for 30 years, acquired two 6′x6′ plastic Shell logo signs. I guess they are what you are calling “clam shell”. My shop burned. The insurance adjuster is willing to buy them for me if I can find any. Does anyone have two of these signs for sale? I can send a photo if it would help. Thanks – Will

  • 8 jason // Dec 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    i have a shell sign on a 16 f pole 1946.num.770 540 4178

  • 9 tom goodhelpsen // Dec 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    is this shell sign for sale and how much

  • 10 vintagevending // Dec 31, 2012 at 10:18 am

    This sign is not for sale. We show vintage items here to promote discussion about these bygone products and to promote the collecting of these items. Perhaps you could repost and leave an email address or phone number where anyone that may have a Shell sign for sale may contact you.

  • 11 Brian // Feb 26, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    I was impressed with your shell sign.
    I have found a double sided which is actually two single sided signs that are connected with a spacer. It is a real sign. Can you give me your opinon of the year and a cooment on the condition and maybe a value.
    Your opinon would be greatly appreciated.
    If you repsond to this I will send a couple of pics.

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All Images are the Property of and Copyrighted to Vintage Vending Inc.