It would be impossible to cover all the sign sizes, types, materials and varieties here. Since my specialty are pre 1970's metal, wood or glass signage, I'll try to describe a few here.Signs that feature a graphic element, such as a brewery, product or character are usually more desirable than a sign with simple wording. The exception here would be example A, which is a pre 1900's era tin sign from the tiny Ganser Brewery in Owatonna, MN. Their delivery area may not have exceeded a 20 mile radius from town, and the 5 examples of this sign I know of all have charred back sides, as they were salvaged from a brewery fire.There are also CURVED (or corner) signs with are curved outward and were usually displayed on corners or poles near taverns.
Example B: This is a stock lithograph from Fitgers Brg. in Duluth, MN. Since it was costly to create a unique sign, especially if you were a small brewery, the sign companies would print the brewers name and type of beer on "stock" (pre printed in bulk) posters. They also did this with trays that would feature a deer or victorian lady in the center, personalized with the brewer and address around the rim edge.Just like the brewery from Hastings, MN. did on the tray in Example C.
Example D is a Meyercord sign.The first decals were not printed in the United States until 1894. These were made by George Meyercord, using a single-hand press.The Meyercord Decal Co.still exists today.These signs were usually multicolored and detailed.They also used "stock" designs like this elderly couple drinking beer.Small breweries could print their logo somewhere and have a nice sign.There are also brewery scene signs like this, which were custom made for particular breweries. They took great liberties in making them look massive, with smoke bellowing from the stacks and many delivery drivers about the grounds.These signs are usually pre-prohibition.
Example E are lighted backbar signs with metal bases and reverse-painted GLASS fronts. The top example was made by the Gillco Co. of Philadelphia. They also made signs for appliance companies and other manufacturers in various shapes and sizes, both lighted and non lighted. Bartenders would often relamp these signs with whatever bulbs they had around the tavern, and high wattage bulbs would cause the paint to flake over time. These signs (and their parts,bases or inserts) are collectible, even more so with graphic elements on the ad area.
Examples F have neon tubes in them. The bottom sign is a porcelain neon "skin" (one side of a double sided outdoor sign) without the neon tubing. Many collectors like to hang these on a garage wall without the neon, as it is so fragile. You can usually tell a truly OLD neon by the unique colors or union stickers applied to the tubing. They often have massive transformers and a good coat of dust gathered over the decades.
Whew...I've only scratched the surface of the hundreds of different beer signs here. As with any collectible, condition, desirability and regional appeal all factor into the value of your sign. If you have questions on dating a sign, or finding a "loving home" for it, email me a picture if you can. If I don't know...I'd love to find out more and learn right along with you.