Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Morning coffee

I've watched with interest the various initiatives over the last few years to record and appreciate the ghost signs that can still be found in many towns and cities. The way they recall lost businesses and forgotten brands is one reason for my interest; their decorative qualities, whether plain or fancy, are another; the window they open on to the advertising techniques of the past is a third.

This example, fading steadily away on the gable end of a building in central Derby, is actually very plain. But even a sign like this has visual qualities one can admire – its simple lettering and the way in which some of the letters follow precisely the height of a single brick, so that the sign seems to go 'with' the brickwork rather than against it. I'm impressed that a sign-writer took such trouble – and the sign's large size must have meant that he took a considerable amount of time on it too.

The brand the sign advertises, Lever's Morning Glory Coffee, is wonderfully named but presumably long gone. I have come across a reference to the same company selling tea, but I don't know whether they were tea and coffee merchants or retail grocers. Their sign, however, with its enticing slogan, 'Tastes as good as it smells', is still worth a second look.

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Some other ghost signs I've posted over the years:
Landaus and wagonettes
Beer bottlers
Dinner services, photographic film

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