I'm making up for lost time. When I was at university and visiting various provincial places, I started spotting beautiful, old-fashioned, gilded lettering above shops, and realised that they were soon going to disappear. I thought I should photograph and collect them, and someone said I should make a little book of them.* Well, so many of those lovely turn-of-the-century bakers' and drapers' and grocers' signs have gone, and I have no record of them. I didn't photograph them because I didn't have a decent camera and couldn't take a decent photo, anyway, so the idea was lost.
But now, now is a different thing altogether. Digital cameras have made it possible for me to take photos without having to worry about cost, film, dark rooms and negative anxiety. So these days I can photograph any lettering and signs that catch my eye - and the more I look, the more I see. Our towns and cities are full of all kinds of wonderfully designed letters and, what's more, they are more likely to be looked after and preserved than those I used to see when I was a student.
These can still all be found in Manchester. The top one is a particular favourite, outside a jeweller's in St Ann's Square; it always intrigued me when I was young, as I wondered if it might be very unromantic to buy a wedding ring by weight.
Elsewhere there are carved letters, painted letters, gilded letters, tiled letter, fancy letters, simple letters, Arts and Crafts letters, Gothic letters, Sixties letters,
stained glass letters,
all of which inspire love letters to Manchester.
*That person was right, and someone else did make a nice book of lettering.