Cast-Iron Stop Sign with glass marbled "Cat's Eyes" jewels spelling the word "STOP".
The sign has an embossed Shaker woman logo on the bottom, and is from Shaker Heights, Ohio. All original - 18" x 18". Circa late 1920's to mid 1930's. All the Cat-Eye marbles are intact! Amazing for a sign that has been used for for as long as this one, and is likely close 80 years old.
Originally painted yellow, as regulations required at the time, then repainted in red in the 1940's. Unknown how long this sign was used by the City of Shaker Heights, but likely into the late 1950's before being replaced by newer, and more reflective, modern stop signs.
Included in the sale are two print copies of the original patents for the design of the replaceable "Cats Eye" light reflectors and the construction of the stop sign. Both filed in 1929 and granted in 1938 by the inventor, Richard W Luce on behalf of the American Gasaccumulator Company of Elizabeth, NJ in 1929. An interesting side note: A few years after being granted the patents for the reflective optics for signage, Richard Luce left American Gasaccumulator and went on to develop and patent more advanced optics working for the Eastman Kodak Company in the late 1930's & 40's.
The first stop signs were developed in the late 1910’s and 1920’s. By that time the major cities, such as Detroit, were using semaphores, traffic towers, Stop and Go signs turned by hand, and other early forms of traffic signals to control traffic at congested intersections. The early STOP signs were placed at intersections where the minor street should stop for a major street.
The first STOP signs were in various shapes, color, size and legend. The Automobile Club of Wisconsin provided an early sign, from the late 1910’s, found in the city of Bessemer, MI. It was made of cast aluminum in the shape of a shield, with the legend "STOP Arterial Highway". Another early STOP sign, provided by the Automobile Club of Michigan, was circular, with red background and white letters.
In 1923, the Mississippi Valley Association of State Highway Officials agreed on a signing plan that included the following;
- Round Signs (most dangerous)
- Octagon Signs (next most dangerous)
- Diagonal Signs (less important)
- Square Signs (least important)
As a result of the Mississippi Valley Association action, the Automobile Club of Michigan furnished two-foot by four-foot octagonal "coffin shaped" signs to the City of Detroit (these had a symbolic message). Soon thereafter, the City of Detroit started using the octagonal shape we use today.
Around 1924 the Industrial Foundry Company (now Advance Castings Co.) in St. Johns, MI., manufactured cast iron "STOP - THRU HIGHWAY" signs, but due to their weight (38 lbs.) these signs were seldom used.
In the late 1930's, the first attempts at reflectorizing resulted in the development of "cat eyes", which were glass semi-spheres that were inserted in holes in the signs. These glass spheres, spelling out STOP or the shape of a curve, resembled cat’s eyes at night. The "cats eyes" in signs were widely used for reflectorization until the late 1940’s, when the Stimsonite Corp developed oval prismatic reflectors. The design of the "cats eyes" is this sign from Shaker Heights was filed for a patent on August 30th, 1929 and granted on June 14th, 1938 by Richard W Luce on behalf of the American Gasaccumulator Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey.
During the 1940’s, sprinkling glass beads on wet paint was gaining popularity. The reflectivity was good, except when it rained, which made this method less than desirable.
In 1953, "reflective sheeting" developed by the 3M Corp., had advanced to the point that it could be used on all traffic signs.
From 1923 to 1954, all STOP signs were required to have a black legend and border on a yellow background. This was because the yellow color had a greater visibility and durability. However, this changed in 1954, when red reflectorized sheeting had improved in visibility and durability to the extent that the red color could then be required for STOP signs.
The Bureau of Public Roads (now the Federal Highway Administration) amended the 1948 Manual of Traffic Control Devices in 1954 to require that all new STOP signs had a red background, with white legend and border. Today, all signs that have applicability at night must either be illuminated, or be fully reflectoized. The reflectorized sheeting has been greatly improved in both quality and longevity.
History of Shaker Heights
Shaker Heights was incorporated as a village in 1912. The name "Shaker Heights" has origins in two local sources. The community was laid out on land formerly owned by the North Union Community of the United Society of Believers, more commonly known as Shakers. "Heights" refers to the plateau east of Cleveland that rises sharply in elevation from 582 feet above sea level at the base of the Cedar Glen Parkway rising to 950 feet above sea level in nearby Cleveland Heights; Shaker Heights' elevation is 1050 feet above sea level.
The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, known as the "Shakers", is a religious sect originally thought to be a development of the Religious Society of Friends. Founded upon the teachings of Ann Lee, the group was known for their emphasis on social equality and rejection of sexual relations, which contributed to their decline in numbers. With few surviving members, Shakers today are mostly known for their cultural contributions (especially style of music and furniture). In 1824, the Whitewater Shaker settlement was established in southwestern Ohio.