Fabulous and extremely rare hand-forged iron trade sign in the form of a pretzel. The sign retains an old gilt surface. There is a strong trace of red, yellow and blue paint on the back side and edges of the pretzel, no doubt the colors that were used on the wall or backboard to which the sign was attached through the 13 mounting holes. There also appears to be a red layer underneath the gold. This layer was probably intended to be an undercoating to give the gilding more depth. I don't think the pretzel was originally red and then gilded later. In any case, the gilt surface has considerable age, and probably dates from at least the late 19th century. Approximately 10% of the gilt surface shows wear (nearly all of it on the left side.
Origin: America, found in south-central Pennsylvania, circa mid-19th century. Condition: see paint description above, no cracks. Size: 18-1/2" x 15-1/2" x 1".