For collectors of vintage Apple memorabilia the closest thing to getting Macintosh, the machine, is the highly colorful Macintosh Picasso dealer lamp sign. If you’ve yet to see one up close, let me tell you it is every bit as cool in person as it is in pictures. I shared it with our friends over at My Favorite Apple’s facebook page, but wanted to add it to my notebook here.
I’ve been hunting one for several years now. On eBay most have had a starting price more than I could impulsively bid, usually $1,000 or more, so I’ve just been watching from the sidelines as they periodically come up for auction. Finally, one came up with a low starting bid and I jumped it. The auction ended with me as high bidder but the seller’s reserve wasn’t met, so he emailed me and we did a deal.
Here’s what I found out about this particular sign’s seller- he wasn’t just some dealer that sells Apple stuff, like most sellers there are. Instead, he worked for an Apple dealer that received this lamp directly from Apple when the Macintosh was introduced in 1984.
I worked for a new Apple store in the early eighties (worked on the Apple II plus, Apple ///, and even the old Lisa) and when the store closed in the late eighties I somehow wound up with the sign because it made such a good night light. The Apple store was in Greenville, SC and I worked there from the time it opened until it closed around 1986. The sign was displayed in our showroom.
Here’s my lamp. I have it displayed at my office, just to show it off.
As I’ve tried to learn more about these signs and their history, Adam Rosen at The Vintage Mac Museum provides the most detailed info so far. In addition, Adam describes the lamp sign as,
The sign has the now-famous Picasso line art along with the name Macintosh etched into a 10″ x 10″ piece of glass, manually beveled and painted. The glass was mounted on a beige plastic base containing an internal flourescent light, illuminating the glass from below. When switched on the sign sparkles like crystal.
Unfortunately, I can’t peg the number of lamp signs Apple produced. Adam notes at the time Macintosh was introduced there was a total number of 1500 Apple dealers. Who knows if each one received one of these jewels or not.
The lamp stands about 15″ tall in all, the glass is a whopping 1/2″ thick and is the coolest piece of promotional Apple/Macintosh history I know of. The only odd thing is it has the mouse coming around the left side of the keyboard 🙂