The US Route Shield is to make road travel simple and easy by just following a number. Each posted sign is called a reassurance shield - meaning "It is assuring you that you are on Route 20". Sadly modern GPS technology and direction giving has made some travel difficult by using named streets, ie, Main St, instead of saying Route. When you think about it, it is very simple to give directions stating, "Follow 34 for 12 miles and take a right on 20 for 10 miles - you are there" - no matter how many turns and different streets you may be on.
1926 - The first shield design came about in August 1925 at the meeting of the American Association of State Highway Officials. They all agreed on the US Shield design and fonts, which at best can be considered BLOCK type fonts. The design was sent out to and made by the state highway officials. There is little deviation in the shield designs during this time period. The State name appeared at the top, with a US in the middle and the route # below.
1948 - An updated version of the 1926 shield came in 1948. It was cleaner and smoother. Another version began to appear with just the shield outline at this time too, primarily on larger signs, but the individual highway marker looked like this. The # Fonts used are still used today.
1950s -(not shown) Given two designs in 1948, some states did deviate some and started creating a singular 20, since some signs were hand painted by stencil, it was a lot easier, faster and cheaper to make than by using the state names and US. Pennsylvania had their own version.
1961 - The FHA changed the guidelines once again on the highway shields. This time, a singular white shield would be placed on a black background. The state names and US would be eliminated . This version would be adopted country wide in 1965. The shield in the pic dates from the late 60s early 70s.
1970 (modern) The shield design changed a little in 1970 and it is the shield that is used today.
The Federal Highway Administration has specific guidelines to follow when making a highway sign. However independent contractors may deviate at times either by using a copy, free hand or Photoshop a version. Those will be discussed in another topic.
The first 3 shields are in our collection. We would also like to thank our friend Jake for his extensive knowledge of road signs.
We strive in our organization to use correct fonts and shields in our designs, marketing and information.