Friday, 30 December 2011

Bosch, Phnom Penh

The location of this painted sign will tell you why I didn't post anything over the past three weeks. Indeed I was travelling in Cambodia, where I came across a few painted signs. Most were modern ones, painted on metal sheets to signal repair shops, hairdresser saloons and the like. More interesting, from a historical perspective, were the very faded signs of businesses and shops painted on the façades of unrestored colonial buildings. These were written either in French or in Chinese (in the 18th and 19th centuries many Chinese migrated to Cambodia, where, until the Khmers Rouges seized power, they played an important role in commerce, banking and transport). Needless to say, given the destructive madness of the Khmers Rouges, there aren't many left. Those that survived were certainly already barely legible in 1975.
Yet today's sign is of a different nature and, actually, it is the only advert for a product painted on a wall I saw in three weeks. I spotted it while on my way from the train station to Psar Thmei, the Central Market (both are lovely Art Deco buildings). It promotes Bosch's thermo-elastic spark plug and was painted there certainly because many motorbikes, remorks (the local version of Thailand's tuk-tuks), taxis, and buses congregate around Psar Thmei.

The company founded by Robert Bosch in 1886 in Stuttgart patented the first spark plug in 1902. The particular model advertised here was launched in 1976.
According to the company's documents, Bosch first ventured in Cambodia via its power tools business division in 2004. The automotive aftermarket and security systems divisions followed one year later. Then in 2010 Bosch opened its first representative business in Phnom Penh. Was this sign painted in or after 2005? Parts of it do look relatively recent and given the high humidity levels in the capital for most of the year, one could expect it to look older than it actually is. However Bosch may have had a small presence in Cambodia for some years through its Thai subsidiary (Bosch has been present in Thailand since 1923).


Note the words "Bosch / Germany" on the body of the spark plug.

A few words in Khmer are written above the drawing but I really don't know what they say.

The lower part of the sign includes drawings of a boat engine as well as a whole series of road vehicles that could require Bosch's Thermo-elastic spark plug.

To conclude, I should mention that this painted sign also includes four Chinese characters, arranged vertically to the left of the spark and visible on the second picture. Judging by their darker colour and state of preservation, it seems they were painted at a later stage. Why they are so small is strange since there was quite a bit of space available.

Location: Street 118, Phnom Penh / Pictures taken in December 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Horses, brakes and carriages, Alton

Unfortunately I don't have any information about this particular business, which supplied horses as well as brakes and carriages. Before horses could pull a carriage safely, they had to be trained and a brake -a simple four-wheelled carriage frame with only a seat for the driver- was used for that purpose. Maybe some of their customers included the managers of the breweries attracted to Alton by the quality of its water, the extensive barley fields and hop plantations found in the vicinity, and the proximity of the London market?
Sadly a window was opened when the building was converted to other uses and a large part of this ghost sign, including the name of the owner, disappeared.

Horses, Brakes and Carriages, ...

Below is a larger version of this ghost sign.

Location: Turk Street, Alton, Hampshire / Pictures taken in April 2010

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Redfern's rubber heels, Islington

Dominating the western end of Chapel Market, a (former) working-class street market, in Islington, this large painted sign reminded shoppers, and certainly sellers, that they could have a much more comfortable experience if their shoes were fitted with Redfern's rubber heels.
Compared to other ghost signs promoting Redfern's products posted on this blog, the design of this one is very different. These so far include a barely visible example in New Cross as well as two very neat and well-preserved ones for the company's rubber mats in Wandsworth and its rubber heels in Fulham. The post about the Wandsworth sign includes some information about the company's history.

Make Walking a Pleasure

Location: Grant Street / Picture taken in March 2008

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Casa Rivero, Havana

The Casa Rivero no longer imports electric goods but its ghost sign still hangs on the façade. The texture of both the wall and the rusting metal sheet on which this ghost sign is painted combined with the fading colours make it pretty unmissable.

Casa RiveroTel.
Importador efectos eléctricos

Location: Calle Muralla, Havana / Picture taken on: 04/04/2010