History 101: Blade Signs

As I walk down Court Street here in our beautiful town of Plymouth, I can either continue to look at my phone (to catch that Pikachu) and hope that people will move out of my way, or I can look around and see the many different signs that surround me.

The sign which hangs perpendicular to the flow of traffic is called a blade sign. These date back to the 14th Century where an Inn would hang a sign saying “INN” so people would know what was inside. A locksmith would hang a giant key, a cobbler would hang a shoe to advertise the business within. A pub on the other hand had their own rules. By law it had to hang a sign to identify the establishment. An animal was commonly used, for example a boar and the name written above or below, the boar and bow.

The reason why the blade signs were designed that way back in the 14th Century, was because not everyone went to school to learn their ABC’s, unlike today. Along with education, food preparation, and hygiene, blade signs have evolved with the times. Some of these advancements are intricate brackets, internal light sources, dimensional lettering, carvings, and graphics.

So next time you are trying to catch a Lapras, or texting your friend, try looking up instead. You might just find your next new spot for a bit of meat and mead.

Click the link to see more of our blade signs.

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