Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Gillette: the different designs; Clapham, Spitalfields, and Willesden

Judging by the number of painted signs for safety razors still around, Gillette must have been one of the most prolific companies. However most of those ads, such as the one below in Clapham, are very similar, with their blue background and yellowish lettering.


Like many Gillette signs across London, this one was painted over an earlier one for Iron Jelloids. The name and part of the familiar slogan for the great tonic, painted in white letters, can still be seen:
For Health
And Beauty
Iron Jelloids

Location: Clapham High Street / Picure taken on: 09/04/2008

Gillette signs of a different design seem to be quite rare, especially those with a drawing. This is why I was amazed, and very happy, to find the one below.

Safety Razor
The Shave With the S...

Location: High Road / Picture taken on: 14/08/2009

A building was erected certainly not so long after this sign was painted and, as a result, it is (unfortunately) barely visible, and (fortunately) rather well-preserved. The lettering looks definitely older than on most Gillette signs. As for the man gently stroking his cleanly-shaven chin and feeling refreshed, he reminded me of the sign in Spitalfields, even if here the figure seems to be a bit fuller (maybe it is an effect of the warmer colours). The other major difference, of course, is that here he is still holding a "mask" representing his unshaven, tired face.
Another sign was painted, above the Gillette one, but has peeled off. Some letters can still be seen:

The ...luction

British Made
Razor & Blades

Location: Commercial Road / Picture taken on: 02/04/2008

I suspect the sign above on Commercial Road would originally have looked like the previous one but Gillette had it repainted at a later date using its more modern design. A couple of words (twice "The") and traces of letters from the earlier version can still be spotted in the lower left-hand corner. A few more letters belonging possibly to a third, intermediate, Gillette sign can also be seen here and there ("...ety" and "...or", making "Safety Razor").

In the picture below, I have altered the perspective and done a bit of retouching in Photoshop to try to give a better idea of what the faces are like. The one on the left looks much more like King Camp Gillette, the head of the namesake company, whose portrait appeared on the packs of disposable razor blades. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

1 comment:

Wellwynder said...

These are fantastic. A couple of real rarities there.