Vintage sign writing was requested & produced on a wooden framed sign, which was for repeat clients Leviticus Tattoo Emporium in Loughton.

The brief was to use the existing sign if possible, repaint it & sign write it in a vintage style to match the other signs already produced for them on their main window, & sandwich/A-boards.

Unfortunately the sign they had been left by the previous shop proprietors was a little worse for wear. The frame was in good shape but the rest wasn’t ideal due warping, & water damage. It would prove just as easy to produce a new one with frash materials, as it would to take the old one apart, sand it down & make good before re-joining it & painting it.

The freshly made sign was produced by a professional woodman Joiner, so the frame was perfectly fitted. It was made with hardwood too for extra durability. The sign was then given an oil based pink wood primer, before an undercoat & a top coat of the burgundy colour, which was already used for the A-boards.

The design was produced on paper, before being reliefed onto the framed sign. Vintage sign writing can’t be just drawn without thought & design. It takes time to decide on letter styles & layout. Anyone who can produce it off the top of their head is one skilled genius.

The size (specialist glue for gold) was applied with brush & then the gold was laid onto the letters. As it was a fairly large area, its sometimes better to lay the gold as you go rather than to paint on all the size to all the letters, as the size can dry too fast & go over the ideal tacky apply time.

The remaining gold was added with the size & then the gold leaf sheets applied to it. While the gold & size was drying the the scroll was base painted, so that too could dry & the sign writing be added to it.

One thing that makes vintage sign writing is a manicule! The pointing finger (manicule) is just something that was common in a bygone era but so rarely seen these days, so adding one of these wasn’t just a cool vintage addition but actually still practical as a part of wayfaring signage. The base colour of this was painted first, The gold leaf was added to the address, the black drop shadow sign written & the coachlines or keyline was added around the main wording, before the black was then added to the manicule to highlight the detail.

The next stage was to sign write the phone number, drop shadow it in black, add the drop shadow to the gold leaf address & add the script lettering.

The final piece of vintage sign writing was added inside the scroll. This style of lettering was known in the trade as ‘fishtail’ a good while before there were known fonts. Maybe it was a style of typeograpghy, but its easily produced with a chisel brush so perhaps a signwriters style & painted on signs rather than found in print.

Completing the sign was the script lettering fine shadow, the scroll lines to define the address & phone number, along with the matching keyline/coachline within the frame beading.

The completed sign having been delivered to clients, who as usual were impressed & excited about the sign & how it looked with the vintage sign writing. The sign was fitted to the wall at the end of the Alley & now brings them in trade as its sop eye catching as you drive thorugh the high street.

Traditional & Contemporary Hand Painted Sign Writing in London

Sign Writer Traditional Signs of London