Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Signs that shine
The Worcestershire town of Upton-on-Severn has quite a few old shop fronts, and a point has been made recently of preserving a number of these – and even revealing the signs of old businesses, long gone but still essential and picturesque bits of the place’s history. So although this former brach of the Worcester New Co-operative Society is a Co-op no more, its sign still shines above its frontage. These gilded letters on a black background are typical of the kind of thing shopkeepers were using in the late-19th and early-20th century to advertise their businesses, and the way the lettering has been managed to get everything into the available space is typical in its ingenuity too. The letterform is quite narrow (that was probably the standard style for this company) but extra economy of space has been achieved with the diagonal words, which are visually effective and give the sign a feeling of dynamism and verve. Even the abbreviation of Society to ‘Socy’, with its superscript Y and little dot, has been handled with some flair.
Beneath the sign the rest of the frontage is quite plain, with big windows and central lobby. Even this has been designed and made with care – look at the fluted pilaster on the left, and the little turned capitals atop the slender shafts. The main job of the shop front, though, is to show off the goods – whether the hams and cheeses of yore or the lampshades and vases of today – and to draw us in through that set-back central doorway. And whether we enter or pass by, both the goods and that glittering sign are bound to make an impression on the retina.
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There’s another post on a shop sign in this town here.