Type in the wild: Ampersand near Taos, New Mexico

Convenience store with handpainted sign near Taos New Mexico

Those darn ampersands! I sure hope the store owner got a discount on this paint job.

Last September, we went cycling in the Santa Fe and Taos areas of northern New Mexico. Our final big day was the Enchanted Circle route around Taos, 90 miles of mountains, pine forests and small ski towns. This convenience store was one of the intersection checkpoints for the sag wagon to touch base with all the cyclists.


Type in the wild: Mid-century neon sign in Charleston, SC

Clothing store sign in Charleston, SC, © 2011, Wren M. Allen, all rights reserved

The neon sign dates from the mid 20th century. But were Canali men's suits imported to the US back then?

Today, this men’s clothing store stocks high-style Italian suits, and has probably always been an exclusive shop in Charleston. I doubt that Canali was importing their fashionable textiles to America back in the 1940s or ’50s when this sign was hung, though.

Berlin's Clothing Sign, Charleston, SC, © 2011 Wren M. Allen, all rights reserved.

Closer inspection reveals the sign has been updated to conform with the store's latest stock.

If you look more closely, you can see that the Canali name was added later with an additional layer of translucent plastic. I wonder what brand of suits was the popular choice for the well-dressed Charleston gentleman during the middle of the last century?

Type in the wild: Sculpted handlettering in Charleston, SC

Brick and stucco street sign, Charleston, SC © 2011, Wren M. Allen, all rights reserved

Weatherbeaten bas-relief sign in Charleston needs fresh paint.

It’s hard to tell what this sign is constructed of, but the lettering is certainly in need of repair. The arched backing plate looks like it might be sheet metal, meaning the letters and silhouetted worker’s form were also metal, soldered on. Or if the base layer is stuccoed wood, then the letters could be cast plaster, or cut wood. This would explain the broken “B” as well as the missing letters that have fallen off. Whatever it’s made of, it was a material that was hard to shape, as the letters and illustrated figure are very stiff and clumsily formed.

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