Claude patented his neon-purification process and electrodes in 1915, and after the end of the war, he began selling neon signs in France. His first two US signs, which cost $1,250 each, adorned Earle C. Anthony’s Packard dealership in Los Angeles in 1922. Soon the Claude Neon company began selling franchises, for $100,000 plus royalties.
It was all downhill for Claude after that triumph, however. He blew most of his neon-light fortune on a scheme to generate electricity by bringing cold water from the ocean depths into contact with warm surface water. And although Claude had been decorated for his WWI efforts, in World War II his royalist sentiments—and lingering resentment over what he viewed as snubs by the French government—led Claude to propagandize for voluntary cooperation with the Nazi invaders. In 1945, Claude was stripped of his honors and sentenced to life in prison for treason.
- Neon is odorless, tasteless and colorless.
- Neon gas becomes liquid at minus 410 degrees Fahrenheit and solid at 415 degrees below zero.
- To date, scientists have been unable to make neon react with any element or compound.
- The neon sign erected at Las Vegas’ Nevada Motel in 1951 was the first appearance of “Vegas Vic,” the city’s unofficial cowboy mascot.
1892 Nicola Tesla spells LIGHT in glowing gases
1898 Ramsay and Travers discover neon
1904 D. McFarland Moore installs glowing-gas sign
1910 Georges Claude displays first neon sign in Paris
1922 First US neon signs light up
1932 Claude’s patent expires, neon signs boom
1941 El Rancho Vegas opens, launching the Las Vegas Strip
2006 Neon signs by Artkraft Strauss sell at auction for more than $100,000
From the January 2010 Family Tree Magazine