The Hamm's Scene-o-rama is the grandad of Hamm's motion signs.Its the sign that most people think of when "moving water sign" is mentioned.So the nostalgia factor is high...maybe because Grandpa had one behind his bar.Or one greeted you from behind the
bar of your local tavern when you were young.
Where do I start?
The Scene-o-rama was ahead of its time,really.It was made by Lakeside Plastics in Minneapolis in the late 60's through early 70's.
The motion effect comes from 2 inner rolls of film that scroll continuously,giving the look of flowing or moving water.Hamms made
many NON moving signs utilizing the outer faux wooden case,so if you have a sign that has a cracked case,simply buy a non moving parts sign to swap it out.Many urban legends surround this scenorama,such as:a disgruntled worker hid a profanity somewhere in the artwork of the northwoods scroll because he got stiffed on payment for his work.Or-these signs are worth THOUSANDS of dollars.These signs aren't rare.Desirable...you bet!
I've seen a few crack a thousand-plus though.These examples were usually found in the backroom of a bar or distributor,and are NIB (new in the box) or in "like new" condition. In an internet auction,it just takes "two to tango" and get one of these to the stratosphere.
Since we are on internet auctions,and people having dollars in their eyes,lets consider what it takes to sell a sign that way.You have to list,photograph,describe properly (your definition of MINT is probably not mine) pay the fees,and SHIP this monstrosity.I have a good friend who's had dozens of these through his hand,and he will not ship one via ANY carrier.Its a shame to have a vintage sign end up in pieces-from a selling OR buying standpoint.If you are considering either,try handling it locally if possible.A vintage sign thats survived 40 years in the "wild" can be trashed by a week in transit!
Condition:Unless these signs were hung on a wall their entire life,they probably sustained SOME sort of wear or age during their decades of service.Check the underside of the case-too many people underestimated the weight of a scenorama and the case can crack easily.Check the roof panels for cracking or corner breakage.How can you tell if its been in a smoky bar? The white side panels will be yellowed as well as the Hamm's logo panel.Use some Armor All to whiten them up nicely.This also works GREAT on the roof panels-spray it on,let gravity do the work! The case removes easily-take the screws out and inspect the guts of your sign.You can clean the logo panel from the front using Q tips to get between the black lattice.If your logo panel is cracked or gone,you'll need to use a needle nose pliers to carefully snap the plastic tabs off and remove it.Lay the jaws flat to the surface,grip tight,and snap em flush to the surface.The canoe in the scene should be bright red-if its orange,your sign has faded.Lakeside plastic used screws to hold the clear acrylic cover over the scene-WHY? Very often they cause the horizontal scene scratches across
the water and woods.You can REMOVE them,as they aren't necessary,or GLUE them back on carefully...whew,I'd better take a breath.
If you are BUYING a scenorama,don't be worried if its not working.With a little help and common sense,you can get them working again.Replacement parts can be found for most problems.And,if you can't find parts,a great place to find them is ibuyoldbeer.com.There is a link under the Hamms motion signs-just click on the parts sheet to email Steve,who is a GREAT guy.The nostalgic and hypnotic factor is unsurpassed in a Hamms scenorama.To this native Minnesotan,its a reminder of eating
hamburgers on a barstool at our neighborhood tavern.
Hamm's moving water signs
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February 25, 2011
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