Robert Chamber’s Book of Days was written in 1869. It is organized according to the days of the calendar and serves up history in the way that our ancestors saw it. I have found it to be a treasure of information about late Regency and Victorian London. Click here to read about the book. Below sits an excerpt from the book about the last remaining shop sign in situ over a bookseller shop. Once upon a time, such signs hung over every shop in London, some so precarious that they threatened passersby below.
In Holywell-street, Strand, is the last remaining shop sign in situ, being a boldly-sculptured half-moon, gilt, and exhibiting the old conventional face in the centre. Some twenty years ago it was a mercer’s shop, and the bills made out for customers were ‘adorned with a picture’ of this sign. It is now a bookseller’s, and the lower part of the windows have been altered into the older form of open shop. A court beside it leads into the great thoroughfare; and the corner-post is decorated with a boldly-carved lion’s head and paws, acting as a corbel to support a still older house beside it. This street altogether is a good, and now an almost unique specimen of those which once were the usual style of London business localities, crowded, tortuous, and ill-ventilated, having shops closely and inconveniently packed, but which custom had made familiar and inoffensive to all; while the old traders, who delighted in ‘old styles,’ looked on improvements with absolute horror, as ‘a new-fashioned way’ to bankruptcy. March 9th entry