HISTORY OF THE ADDRESS SIGNS
The very first types of signs were designed by the ancient Egyptians and were strictly for advertising purposes. The Romans started the practice of whitewashing sections of walls for suitable inscriptions, in effect, creating the very first signboards.Early shop signs were developed when tradesmen dealing with a largely illiterate public, devised easily recognizable emblems to represent their trades. Examples include hotels, blacksmiths, butchers and taverns. From Roman times,the famous sign of a bush that was mounted before a tavern to indicate the availability of wine.Others that became identifiable with particular trades include the three golden balls of the pawnbroker and the red and white stripes of the barber.
- Barber Shop
- Shoe Store
- Sailor's Tavern Sign
- Old Hat Shop Sign
- Tavern Sign
Some examples of early shop signs, before they started to sequentially number buildings.
These early signs consisted of drawings and symbols only and allowed the uneducated to easily recognize them. As early as the 1390's English merchants were required to label their premises with their own signs.
In the 16th century such signs were required in France and soon after many
U.S. colonies adopted similar requirements. These laws stated that every
establishment must have a visible sign posted that can be seen from both
directions. 100 years later France ruled that signs must be mounted flat
on the wall of a building, safely out of the public way. Through the 18th
century signs changed as lettering increased and imagery decreased. As
well, proprietors would often include their names on the signs especially
in the case of inn and tavern owners. These changes and restrictions led
to a decrease in the popularity of signs marking shops + dwellings. Soon
after, the practice of numbering buildings sequentially by street became
popular. It started as early as 1512 in France and it was widespread by
the 18th century in both, France and England for both business as well
as residential buildings. When electric generators were invented in the
late 19th century, it led to the illumination of shop signs and billboards.
And this paved the way for the invention of the Illuminated Address Sign in the late 20th century