My last post, where we took a look at Birmingham’s over-punctuated street signs, stirred up quite a bit of discussion. Rich Greenhill suggested that Birmingham’s commas-and-tilde motif could have come from an abbreviated medieval ‘a’ or, perhaps, “ditto” marks. H James Lucas wondered if the paired commas might be a single inverted comma, used by the ironmonger to save typesetting effort; Brian Inglis took the opposite tack and suggested the commas could have been added purely so the manufacturer could invoice for an extra couple of characters. And, on street signs in general, Korhomme pointed out Bern’s colour-coded street signs, imposed by Napoleon’s invading armies. Read about these and other ideas in the comments from last time round.
We moved from London to Birmingham a couple of years ago now, and one of the first things I noticed when we arrived were the street signs: extravagant, cast-iron behemoths far removed from London’s restrained licence plates for buildings. Above is a typical street sign in Edgbaston, our then-new neighbourhood; below is an old-style enamelled sign from Wandsworth, our previous one.
A couple of months ago, in the midst of writing my emoji series, I took some time out to have a chat with Glenn Fleishman for his new podcast series, the Tiny Typecast. Glenn is an old friend of the blog and is astonishingly well-informed about books, typography and all things related: we talked about books and book history for what felt like a few minutes, but turned out to be the better part of an hour. Glenn is easy to talk to and, if you check out our conversation on Apple Podcasts or at Glenn’s blog, you’ll find that he’s easy to listen to, too. (The jury is still out on yours truly.)