My little postcard collection continues to grow, although more slowly now that you can’t get even a really boring common postcard on eBay for less than three or four dollars. One thing I started to notice was the prevalence of rooftop signs announcing businesses and welcoming visitors to larger cities in the state. I’ve always loved the King Edward Hotel sign, but it used to be one of many in downtown Jackson and now sticks out because it’s a rare survivor.
When I first started noticing them in the postcards, I thought maybe they were a mid-20th century phenomenon to appeal to highway and airplane travelers, and of course the King Edward sign must date to the 1950s when the name changed from Edwards Hotel to King Edward. But when I started cruising through the Cooper Postcard Collection (a really valuable research resource–thanks MDAH!), I realized that there are rooftop signs at least as early as the 1910s or early 1920s. This Meridian sign (I can’t read the whole sign) is the earliest I’ve found–dating it by the cars and the fact that there are still horse-drawn carriages on the street–and possibly was facing toward the railroad.
The 1920s through the 1950s does seem to be the apex of rooftop signs though, as evidenced by these postcards:
None of these hold a candle to this one though from Hattiesburg, the all-time amazing rooftop sign!
So far I’ve only found rooftop signs in Jackson, Meridian and Hattiesburg. Know any from your town? Send a link to a picture so we can add to our list!