12 Dec 2009

What was John Bull?

A magazine or a tyre brand? Or something else?

While working on refining the categories for the archive I came across two signs which I am now uncertain about and I need your help. These are both for brands that adopted the moniker John Bull, which I now understand is a generic character akin to Uncle Sam in America.

The first on Stockwell Road in London sits alongside a sign for the Picture Post, which is a well known magazine (picture below). For this reason and following a brief search of the web I concluded that John Bull was a magazine, and indeed it was.

The second can be found as a palimpsest alongside a Brymay sign on Quernmore Road, also in London (picture below). Having found this second sign after the one above I quickly classified it as the magazine too.

However, during a recent visit to Steele’s pub in Chalk Farm, I saw an old enamal sign for a brand of tyres called John Bull. This too utilised block capital lettering and so I am now wondering if one or both of these signs might be for the tyre brand rather than the magazine. The different lettering styles used would suggest they aren’t for the same brand. And, given the generic nature of John Bull, could they be for something completely different?

If you know the answer or have any leads please let me know via the comments below or send an email to ghostsigns at gmail dot com.

John Bull / Picture Post, Stockwell Road, by giagia

John Bull / Brymay, Quernmore Road, by janeslondon

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