The Tavern Sign Of The Ancients

“The excavations at Pompeii brought to light many interesting details of ancient Roman life, among them were the various signs over the shops of the tradesmen.  One representing a mule turning a corn-mill is the sign of a baker, a milk shop had a goat for its signs, a school is indicated by a teacher birching a boy, and a tavern has a bush with the motto, “Vino vendibili suspensa hedera non opus est” (there is no need to suspend ivy over saleable wine).  Our well-known equivalent, “Good wine needs no bush”, is derived from this custom.  The ivy was a sacred plant to Bacchus, the wine god, and as such it became the tavern sign of the ancients.”

Extract from ‘The History of Signwriting’ by Herbert Cole (published 1954)

Smart Casuals

P1020526I just thought I’d post on my progress with casual lettering. As I’ve mentioned before, this is one of the most instantly gratifying styles of hand-lettering as you are essentially creating your own signiature handwriting style and you don’t require to necessarily do much in the way of setting out or pouncing designs onto your work – just get some guidelines chalked out and you’re off.

Progress was slow at first but once you’ve learned the brush strokes and gotten to grips with them, things start to move along quite rapidly. I’ve been working on these for a month or so now and I’m starting to feel some advancement. I’m now at the stage where I’m getting fairly confident with painting to a pounced design, but it’s something else entirely if you can achieve freestyle hand-painted letters

Obviously some letters are coming out better than others and, as you can see from above, it will take time to gain the required consistency. But once you get a couple of letters looking good it can become quite addictive.