A Mystery M*A*S*H Signpost


For almost 20 years, Alex has had a M*A*S*H signpost in storage that he knows nothing about. He’s curious if anyone can help figure out where it came from. Recall that two signposts were originally built for M*A*S*H, one kept at the 20th Century Fox sound stage and the other outdoors at the Fox Ranch in California.

When a fire destroyed the outdoor M*A*S*H set in 1982, a third signpost was built. It later ended up at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. M*A*S*H set decorator Bert F. Allen held on to the sound stage signpost, which sold for $25,000 in a July 2005 Profiles in History auction.

Here are some pictures:

It’s possible Alex’s signpost is a fan-made recreation, like many others. There are two things that make Alex wonder if it could be somehow connected to M*A*S*H, 20th Century Fox, or CBS. The individual signs have alignment numbers on the back, which could mean the signpost was designed to be moved around, perhaps for promotional purposes. Also, the metal base plate matches the base plate of the sound stage signpost.

Does anyone know if 20th Century Fox or CBS had a M*A*S*H ever had a signpost built for promotional purposes?

3 Replies to “A Mystery M*A*S*H Signpost”

  1. I don’t think this is legitimate. I just spent a couple of cursory minutes and I noticed two things:
    * The font on Alex’s signpost for BOSTON does not resemble the font in the other pictures of the signpost in the article on the actual signpost.
    * Similarly, the “B” in Burbank in Alex’s signpost does not have a “smooth” hole in the bottom of the “B.” The hole juts out a little on the left-hand side, like it is a small square attached to the rounder part. On the actual signpost, this is “smooth” (hope this is descriptive enough).

    Studio artists usually try to make exact replicas because they want everything, shot-for-shot to be absolutely exact. I didn’t spend other time looking at other parts and making more comparisons, but this is what jumped out after just a couple of minutes of looking. Sorry / hope this is helpful.

  2. The shape of the Coney Island sign is wrong as well. The curved part of the right end is the opposite of any pictures I can find of the actual sign post. There are multiple other minor differences as well on the various signs.

    It is very well done and very similar to the original though. The post itself is what is striking to me, as it looks like something that sat outside for a long period of time.

  3. I have studied this prop since the 1970’s, when M*A*S*H was first run. I even wrote the Smithsonian to point out how inaccurate their self proclaimed ‘original’ prop was. I can tell you this is fan made. But made with great care. It was mostly copied from the signpost replica in the Smithsonian. It seems to be missing the ‘Seoul’ sign, ‘Death Valley’ and ‘Honolulu’ (used only in part of the final season). There was also an ‘Indianapolis sign under ‘Death Valley’ in later seasons. The ‘Coney Island’ sign has the end going at the wrong angle (like the Smithsonian version). ‘Toledo’ on the show, was a dark board with white lettering. The lettering and the shape of the sign is also inaccurate. The Smithsonian had it like the rest of the signs. This ‘Boston’ sign is more accurate than the way-too-large museum sign. Toward the end of the series, The sound stage had a brand new signpost painted without the standard stencils used i the past (it was hand-painted and looked a lot different). The other signpost was the one that used to be indoors, was moved to the outdoor ranch location. For some reason, in the finale (which aired exactly 37 years ago as of this writing) , they started using the newer signpost (seen at the start of the finale) and it was destroyed in the fire that swept though the set during filming. The then used the older (superior) signpost for the rest of the filming (including the scene where everyone takes their home town home). The post however seems to be made exactly like the original. Incidentally, at the conclusion of filming M*A*S*H, set decorator Bert Allen took the original signpost home (as a gift from the show). It wasn’t kept well, but was sold at auction for $25,000! Regardless of where it came from, or who made it, it looks to be in great shape, and very nice looking. I sincerely hope you can find out its origin. Sorry for the novel. I hope some of it was informative!

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