2 Jul 2007

Gillette Palimpsest

Gillette Criterion Westminster Gazette palimpsest

Following the previous post on Gillette Razors I was looking again at this sign which I had always referred to as ‘Westminster Criterion Matches’. It is a rare example of two signs on different walls of the same building, sharing its home with my original post.

On closer inspection it is possible to make out the distinctive Gillette logo pushing through from an earlier sign on this wall. This then raises the question of whether the blue background is also from the Gillette sign? This could be true as this shade of blue seems to stand the test of time well and may have faded slower than whatever, if anything, was painted over it.

The effect caused by earlier signs being revealed by the fading of more recent painting is commonly referred to as ‘palimpsest‘ (see Wikipedia definition), similar to the layers of writing you get on a note pad when a biro has pushed through earlier pages. There are many examples of this and they most frequently occur on walls with very high visibility which would have been sold and re-sold to advertisers for specified periods of time. A 1928 book gives details of rates in the USA, usually for at least a year, more often for two or three. These days poster sites are usually booked in two or four week blocks!

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