We love Labor Day because it is a time to celebrate Americans’ hard work and ingenuity. Labor activists in the 19th century pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the workers. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on Sept. 5, 1883. On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday to honor working men and women.

In honor of Labor Day we wanted to look at some artistic and very collectible signs that advertise American industry. Some show views of imposing factory buildings that give a sense of where we’ve been and our industrial past. Some may or may not still be standing. As we prepare for Labor Day and a three-day weekend, let’s remember and be grateful for the contributions of all American workers.


cornish american pianos and organs advertisement

Advertisement for Cornish Pianos and Organs, Cornish & Co., Washington, N.J., U.S.A., lithographed paper, pictures Uncle Sam with Lady Liberty seated at a Cornish piano, marked Gies & Co., Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.A., frame, 46 x 36 in., $3,444.  Photo: Morphy Auctions


dutchess trousers manufacturer advertisement

Advertising sign for Dutchess Trousers, Dutchess Manufacturing Co., Poughkeepsie, N.Y., “Largest Factory in the World used exclusively for the manufacture of Trousers,” tole, frame,24 1/2 x 34 1/4 in., $625.  Photo: Hudson Valley Auctioneers LLC


westchester county brewing company advertisement

Advertising sign for Westchester County Brewing Company, Pelham, N.Y., wood, pictures factory scene, The Meyercord Co., Chicago, 24 x 34 in., $431.  Photo: Matthew Bullock Auctioneers


stock food factory advertisement

Poster advertising International Stock Food, International Food Company, Factory No. 2, Minneapolis, Minn., “The Home of 3 Feeds for One Cent,” “For Horses, Cattle, Sheep and Hogs,” lithograph, frame, 20 1/2 x 27 1/2 in., $191.  Photo: Goldfinch Auctions


wells shoes lithograph advertisement

Advertising sign for Wells Shoes, lithographed tin, single sided, self-framed, view of main office, sales room and factory in Chicago, 25 1/2 x 37 1/2 in., $1,080.  Photo: Morphy Auctions


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