Sunday, May 31, 2015

Louth, Lincolnshire

Rs at the back

When revisiting the backstreets of Louth in search of the enormous window in my previous post I also found the back of the town’s department store, Eve & Ranshaw, which has been proudly trading since set up by the wonderfully named Adam Eve in the 1780s. It was a Sunday morning, so the shop was closed, but it was the assortment of exterior signs that attracted my attention: here’s my favourite. The letters gain quite a bit of their impact from the fact that they are relatively wide, making a virtue out of the narrow strip the signwriter was given to work with.

This sign has the kind of letters often called clarendons (more about them here), and distinguished by their curved or bracketed serifs and by the distinction between the broad strokes and narrow strokes. I think these are pretty good. There’s quite a lot of difference between the strokes – the broad strokes are wide enough to give plenty of impact and exploit the shiny surface of the sign; the thinner strokes provide contrast.

The curved letters like the S and R are particularly challenging for letterers and signwriters. Both work well here. The leg of the R has a nice lively upward curve to it. The S copes well with the horizontal emphasis of the sign. There’s not enough vertical space for it to curve openly, with plenty of ‘air’ between the strokes, but the letter still snakes its way around stylishly and displays plenty of gold to catch the eye, which is what the sign is for, after all. Hats off to whichever generation of store owners lavished such care on the sign that graces their premises’ important, but rear, facade.

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