Saturday, 13 November 2010

1909 signs rewritten

I was commissioned to rewrite a number of glass signs from a shopfront. The signs had been hidden behind hardboard panels for years, and when they were uncovered it was found that many of them had large cracks running through them. As they were made of 8mm thick untoughened 100-yr-old glass the council insisted on them being removed for safety reasons.
The shop was George Mence Smith, grocers, colour merchants and ironmongers. You can see a couple of the original broken panels leaning up against the wall, with one newly-written replacement on new safe laminated glass.
Here are the new signs in place. I copied the original signatures of the two signwriters who had made the originals, and signed one panel myself. Usually this type of fascia is carved from wood, the carved letters gilded and then the glass placed over the front.
When we removed the signs we discovered that in this case the letters are made of pressed copper, gilded, and adhered to the reverse of the glass with lead tape. I gilded the lining top and bottom and repaired the letters where needed...
...and repainted the signs using the same materials and techniques as the originals. It was a real honour to have the opportunity to see how these things had been made in 1909.

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