Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The Imprint
Jackson, F. Ernest Mason, J. H. Johnston, Edward
Persistente ID:
T is safe to say that not a single sign in Bond Street is admirable. 
Oxford Street is a still less likely place ; and in the City you may 
wander a whole day under the swinging notices of the trades without 
finding anything to please you. In a bus-ride from one end of the 
town to the other, I passed, I calculate, a quarter of a million 
 projecting signs. It would be impossible to convey to anybody 
unacquainted with a great town a notion of how closely the fronts of modern 
business premises are crowded with such things, and nobody but a city 
man realises how little the array may mean. The accustomed eye is blind 
to them ; and I feel I am doing my readers an injury by mentioning the 
subject at all. Once get the hideous things on your mind and many a 
good sunset at the end of the street may be spoiled for you. 
The passion of the age is for lettering and words-its own ugly lettering 
and ugly words. Words can make the best decoration in the world ; but the 
sign-makers have never heard that that is so. In all the quarter-million signs 
that I have examined, the lettering, and the ugliness, is of the same kind. 
Generally the effect is achieved by white enamelled inscriptions on, or 
behind, glass with a dark ground. Enamelled tin is also often used ; but 
whatever the medium the effect is the same. Even the National Telephone 
Company, which had the good idea of using a trade-mark, covers its bell 
with lettering until it is no longer a bell. We are too narrow-minded to let 
things rest with a sign pure and simple. Even where the barber's pole is still 
set up, there is, besides, a mass of literature to supplement it. Nothing is 
left to the imagination. The pole alone, it must be supposed, would make 
people scratch their heads in perplexity and pass by; so to make sure 
of you the barber puts out a hundredweight of glass, with gilt letters 
glued on it, to announce the " Hairdressing Saloon." This, if his landlord 
lets him, he partially obscures on one side with the announcement of 
" Shaving," and on the other with " Shampoo." It is inevitable that in the 
end his pole will totally disappear before the impotent and unpersuasive 
word. The Aerated Bread Company itself, I notice, does not trust the 
public to understand anything but its name in full. "  would make 
a monogram, one might have ventured, good enough to guide us to our 
luncheons; but no! the sign-maker insists upon being more explicit. 
The good bush asks no explanation ; but it gets it to the point of 
It is decoration, instead of words, that I would call for. The dull, literal 


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