Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Botes, Southwark

Founded in 1972, Botes Builing Ltd undertook construction contracts, building repairs and maintenance. The company went into administration in 2006. This painted sign outside its London offices survived for a few years but has now disappeared.

Location: Park Street / Picture taken on: 10/04/2008

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Hyde Park Laundry Co, Whitechapel

Unfortunately searching the net didn't return anything relevant about The Hyde Park Laundry Company from London (*). Since the sign below in Whitechapel states this was "Depôt B", one can easily imagine the company operated at least another branch. Anything more would be pure speculation.

*: a company by a similar name - Hyde Park Laundry Ltd - existed in Britain but that was in Plymouth between 1960 and 1965 (prior to 1960 it was known as the Plymouth Sanitary Steam Laundry, and in 1965 its name was changed to the Millbay and Hyde Park Laundry Co Ltd). Since this ghost sign is much older, any link with a Plymouth cleaner can be discarded. Otherwise one has to cross the Atlantic Ocean to find the Hyde Park Laundry Co., in Chicago. It seems this sizeable business was founded in the late 19th or early 20th century and operated until the end of the Second World War. It is highly unlikely it had branches this side of the pond.

The Hyde Park Laundry Co.
Art Dyers
... & ...
Shop Hours
Tuesday 8 to 8
Thursday 8 to 2
Friday 8 to 9
Saturday 8 to 10
Note the hybrid spelling of "Depôt" with a circumflex accent on the 'O' but no accute accent on the 'E', as if someone couldn't decide between French and English.

The sign writer made good use of the rounded window and used different fonts to draw customers' attention to the different pieces of information relevant to them. A pretty good ghost sign slowly fading away.
Click on the images below to get a better view of the different parts.

Location: New Road / Pictures taken on: 15/05/2011

Monday, 27 June 2011

Capons, Rochester

Walking towards Rochester High Street from the train station, one cannot miss the sign below for Capons the butchers. A. E. Capon & Son has been selling meat and award-winning sausages in Charles Dickens's hometown since 1944.


Update: originally another building stood next to Capons. As its upper storeys were slightly set back from its neighbour's façade, it left enough space on the side wall for Capon to advertise his trade as pictures taken in the mid-1950s show (here and here. Note that back then the signs were different). This building was demolished when the road was widened.

Location: High Street, Rochester, Kent / Picture taken on: 26/06/2011

Friday, 24 June 2011

Konica Minolta, Istanbul (and its electric counterpart, Beijing)

Even though I didn't see many painted signs in Istanbul (about one a day on average over one week, but that includes a couple of real gems!), I spotted the first one shortly after arriving in the city, while on my way to the hotel from the Eminönü pier. By then it was dark but a couple of days later I passed there again just as the buildings nearby were about to cast a shadow on it.
The location chosen for this Konica Minolta sign was not surprising: the streets near the northern end of Ankara Caddesi (Avenue) are full of shops selling cameras and photographic equipment.

Konica Minolta

A combination of poor quality paint and local weather conditions make this sign look older than it is. Indeed Konica Minolta was only formed in 2003 when the two Japanese companies Konica and Minolta merged. In 2006, after heavy financial losses, the corporation announced it was selling its camera business to Sony and from then on was concentrating on its products for businesses rather than for the general public.

The new company's logo is an updated version of the Minolta logo unveiled in 1981. By then there were only four lines instead of five across the 'Globe Mark' that took the place of the letter 'O' on the cameras' body.

Location: Ankara Caddesi, Eminönü, Istanbul / Pictures taken on: 14/06/2011

This fading sign in Istanbul was a far cry from the bright electric sign that dominates the corner of Wangfujing Dajie, Beijing's main shopping street, and Dong'anmen Dajie in the centre of the Chinese capital.

Location: Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng Disctrict, Beijing / Picture taken on: 07/09/2009

Monday, 20 June 2011

Royalty rackets, Brixton

The start of the Wimbledon fortnight gives me the perfect opportunity to post a ghost sign promoting a tennis racket manufacturer. However contrary to the advert for En Tout Cas, which was strategically placed between Southfields station and the tennis courts, this one is nowhere near SW19. It was painted on the premises occupied by H. E. Hayward and Co, whose leading brand was Royalty Rackets.
I doubt this was a very successful company. The only document available online in which it is mentioned is a 1950 issue of The Builder, in which we learn that consent has be given to alter H. E. Hayward's building. Was any Royalty Racket ever used by a player at Wimbledon? Maybe not.

H. E. Hayward & Co
Tennis Rackets
112E Brixton Hill

Location: Blenheim Gardens / Picture taken on 15/05/2011

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Hair cutting and shaving saloon, Putney

A barber and hairdresser replaced a seller of different goods to owners of horse carriages, who previously had taken over this shop from an unknown tradesman. All are long gone but they left us with some ghost signs.

The first signs can be seen above the entrance. This space was used by the three successive owners. I only managed to decipher completely the new one. It reads

The older ghost signs are much trickier to read as they were more elaborate, with some words written diagonally and undulating. The only ones I can identify are
...nks [Trunks?]
Other letters and a number can be seen here and there but I can't make any sense of them.

At the back of the shop was another sign, designed to be seen by people coming from Putney High Street. This wall seems to have been used only by two businesses (the new one is on the left, the old one on the right).


Location: Lacy Road / Pictures taken on: 22/05/2008

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sunday Illustrated, Gillette, Cafe, and Iron Jelloids; Dalston

This is a real palimpsest and it took me a bit of time to figure out which paper was advertised there. Yet after a close look it all became clear.

The sign for the paper reads:
Picture Paper
24 Pages 2d

There was more text advertising this 1920s publication, but it is hidden by the blue background for Gillette. The Sunday Illustrated was one of several newspapers and magazines founded by Horatio Bottomley, MP for South Hackney. Followers of this blog may remember the name of this journalist, politician, and swindler from a post about the National News and Sunday Evening. Actually the former, having been a failure, was revamped and relaunched in July 1921 as the Sunday Illustrated. As part of the launching campaign, Bottomley convinced Silvanus Vivian, the Registrar General, to allow the amendment slip of the delayed 1921 census to carry an advert for his new weekly paper. The census had been planned for April 24 but was postponed to June because it was feared a coal dispute and the threat of a strike by railway workers would invalidate the results. Instead of reprinting 11.5 million forms, the Registrar General printed small slips with the new date at a cost of £2,000. Although this was not a large sum, it was decided to offset it by allowing an advertising agency to sell the space available on the back of the slip. In early 1921 Bottomley had already offered £100,000 to have an advert for his papers printed on the original census forms but that had been rejected. In May 1921 though, Bottomley's offer of £900 per million slip was accepted. As one can imagine, the presence of an advert on official material raised a few eyebrows and questions. In Parliament, some MPs argued people could mistake the slips for an advertisement and throw the forms straight into the rubbish bin. Others argued this could be seen as official endorsement by the government. When some of the enumerators refused to distribute for conscientious reasons the contentious slip carrying the advert for the forthcoming Sunday Illustrated, Vivian had to allow them to cross the date and write the new one instead on the original form. As a result the advertising agency that had bought the space from the Register General Office refused to pay and was sued by the Crown, while Bottomley also sued the said agency. Yet far more damaging for the Registrar General was the association with Bottomley, a crook and multiple bankrupt who was about to spend five years in jail for fraud, having sold just after the war Treasury's £5 Victory Bonds at a discounted price of £1 to readers of the vulgar and populist John Bull, another of his magazines. Many people subscribed but of course there were no bonds! This was the only time advertising was allowed on census material.

The other main ad on this wall, clearly recognizable with its typical blue background, was for Gillette. It reads:
British Made
Razor Blades

Written vertically on the right side and equally well-preserved is the word
Why was such a narrow space used on such a large wall? Cost may have been a reason.

The different ghost signs mentioned above don't account for all the words visible on this wall. One of the other products promoted here was the sub-carbonate of iron and jujube mass tablets Iron Jelloids. Although it is very difficult to see "Iron Jelloids" written there, part of the text of their typical adverts can still be read:
Re[liable] Tonic
Of All Chemists

A few more letters that don't go with the Iron Jelloids advert can be seen here and there, suggesting yet another ghost sign, but this one will remain a mystery.

Location: Kingsland Road / Pictures taken on: 01/04/2008

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Thomas Moate's, Stratford

The sign writer has skilfully used the conduct of the chimney on the side of this house to frame this advertisement for Thomas Moate's clothing business.

Thomas Moate's
Mantle, Jacket,
Costume, Skirt & Fur Warehouse

Only very faint parts of letters can still be seen on the last two lines. The first one, and maybe the second one too, used the same font as "Dressmaking."

Moate's or Moates? Traces of black paint between the 'E' and the 'S', where there should only be either the white paint of the background or a red brick had the name been 'Moates', suggest there is an apostrophe. The fading dot seems to extend downward.

Location: Leytonstone Road / Pictures taken on: 15/05/2011

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Stroud, Dorchester

This ghost sign in the centre of Dorchester was relatively easy to read: it appears in a much better condition on a picture taken c 1950. However I haven't been able to establish when visitors to the county town of Dorset could enjoy some food at Stroud's dining rooms.


Although "Confectioner" appears on many ghost signs, "Restaurateur" is rather unusual.

On a more recent visit I noticed that the last two lines of this sign are now partly covered by an advert for The Thomas Hardy Explorer Tour.

Location: South Stret, Dorchester, Dorset / Picture taken on: 16/08/2009