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Shop Signs

Mitchell Library, Glasgow Collection

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Shop Signs

Some old Glasgow shops signs, drawn for the Old Glasgow Club in 1911.

From earliest times, when many people were illiterate and streets were un-numbered, shopkeepers advertised their location and the nature of their business by hanging a projecting sign outside their premises. The signs were generally hung about 9 feet above the ground to permit horse riders to pass beneath. Those reproduced for the Old Glasgow Club include some of the more obvious (umbrellas, a sheep and a clothes cleaner) as well as some that are less obviously representative of a trade or goods (a civet cat, a golden unicorn and a half-moon and crown) and may have hung outside inns or taverns.

Street signs were often vandalised, and drunken revellers enjoyed swopping them around. In 1772 the Town Council attempted to have the signs removed, on the grounds that they interupted the view along streets and prevented the proper illumination of the thoroughfares, by shading areas from the light of street lamps.

Reference: GC 941.435 OLD

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning

inns, Old Glasgow Club, pubs, shop signs, shops, sign boards, street lighting, taverns

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