I have a confession to make. I have had and maybe still have, a modest form of kleptomania. I am referring to the collection of public house, restaurant and club signs when I was younger. I had this peculiar thought process that made me think certain signs posted in public places would be more suitably displayed in my room of the basement two room flat which I shared with a fellow student.
It started on the pub crawls we made when returning from golf matches. Typically, I would have three teammates of our college golf club in my little 1938 Ford Anglia and we would be returning from matches against some of the local golf clubs around London or from matches with other London University colleges or hospitals. We would stop at a fish and chip shop and several pubs on our way back into town, and quite often I would find a sign for my collection.
Many of these signs have stayed with me through the years and many of the better ones reside today in the bar at my home in Houston. My collecting days are long over but I have been unable to throw away these mementos. My bar has, on a small scale, a British pub theme, including a small carved wooden pub sign my cousin had made for me in her village’s craft shop. It proudly shows the “Prince of Wales” feathers logo.
I also have a British Coat of Arms seal and an “England” soccer scarf hanging on the walls. One of the signs I still have says, “Betting or the writing of betting slips on this property is forbidden” and there is also one of the usual signs about closing times. In my day, pubs closed at 10pm and my sign says, “Customers please note. A bell will ring 10 minutes before closing time and again at closing time, after which no drinks may be consumed.” Other signs include, “Water served in this establishment has been passed by the management,” “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” and “Maximum occupancy of this room is limited to 105.”
I also have a sign from a store which states, “We watch for and PROSECUTE shoplifters,” and an American sign that says, “State Law prohibits alcoholic drinks to be taken from this bar.”
One of the best signs I found came from the Carey Transportation Service at La Guardia airport. It was framed and hung on the wall facing the toilet in our powder room in Houston. It warns, “Persons leaving this conveyance while still in motion, do so at their own risk.”
British polite formality shows in this club sign, “Believing that un-solicited service may be an annoyance, the attendant will only provide service on request.” And the even more formal and proper notice which now stands next to our bar phone and was originally taken from the Russell Hotel in London on September 16th 1944, my first day in the big city, proudly brags about the newly installed room telephone service with a small plastic plaque which states, “This Telephone is provided for your convenience. The Management ventures to suggest that you use it to make or modify your appointments, to generally conduct your business and social activities as well as to contact the hotel staff in all matters which may be conducive to your comfort and wellbeing.”
4 thoughts on “Signs of Kleptomania”
I love all of your signs. You’ve almost inspired me to pick up where you left off and continue adding to your collection. I think most stores could benefit from this one: “Believing that un-solicited service may be an annoyance, the attendant will only provide service on request.”
I believe one of your Granddaughter’s have continued this tradition.
I bought that England scarf from a street vendor in 2006! I also bought an England t-shirt and gave it to Nigel. I “nicked” one of your signs back in the 70s because it was glued to my clock radio in college. I still have it. It says, in English and Japanese: “Please do not smoke in bed”. The “do not” is in red in English and 2 Japanese characters.
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