The signs were made by skilled craftsmen—with emphasis on "men." No women were employed in this specialist's profession. They doubtlessly learned their craft from previous generations. Some garnered their styles from books in which templates for letters provided the aesthetic basis for the respective periods. They worked on glass, wood, and metal. The ones on glass, however, are the most luminescent. I have hundreds of photos arranged in small albums, by city and town.
I refer to them often, whether for a specific commission, including reference for a logo or sign (or cookbook), or just to transport me back to Europe. I never tire of looking at them. And nothing makes me happier than to see a modern shoe store that will show the respect to retain a wonderful old sign from its former life as a pasticceria.