Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

Fancy work

I’m always on the look-out for interesting shop fronts, not least because everyone else seems to ignore them. This lettering is found on the lovely late-19th century frontage of a jeweller’s on Tewkesbury High Street. Pevsner (excellent on the timber-framed buildings and much else on this street) does not include it. But it caught my eye for the signs alone, and I was still more impressed when I realised that this front retains the grooves to take its old wooden shutters, which are still put up at night to cover the windows.

With an eye on history and style, the shop, now Buttwell and Jones, has kept the old ‘Buttwell & Sons’ signage. The gilded lettering on its green glass background (more beautiful if anything for being worn) has satisfying, full-looped letters with lots of character. Plenty of variation between the width of the strokes, neat loops on the w and o, and a distinctive small s at the end all contribute to the effect. Only the ampersand seems a bit squashed and mean.

Up above, against a gold background glinting like an engine-turned cigarette case, are the ornate capital letters of the word ‘JEWELLER’. These letters are a feast of knobbly serifs, curving strokes, and dots. You’d not want too much of this, but, placed where it is, it gives just the right impression of fancy work that the original proprietor no doubt wanted to convey, back at the turn of the 20th century. How pleasing that the sign, and the business it advertises, is still there.


Mike @ A Bit About Britain said...

In these days of the ubiquitously uniform high street, it's pleasing that these things are still there. Hanging on. I wonder how long they've got?

Pigtown*Design said...

Spent the best summer ever in Tewkesbury!

Stephen Barker said...

I am at present working in Grantham, a quick walk around the town found some good shop fronts still in existence.

Peter Ashley said...

Good lettering like this should be immediately listed. Some is, I believe, but more attention should be brought to it. Like my (plug plug) little book Letters from England.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Thank you all for your comments. It's always worth looking out for lettering like this - especially in smaller towns with a lot of independent shops. It's a long time since I was in Grantham, but it's a good hunting ground I should think.