Pestle and Mortar Trade Sign

Unknown (Northern European)

19th century

Tôle peinte (painted metal sheet)

Height: 80.5 cm

This sign is made of gilded tinplate fixed to a wooden platform with a metal sheet covering the top and the pestle sticking out. According to Sir Ambrose Heal’s comprehensive 1947 study of London shop signs, by the late 17th century a Pestle and Mortar sign was commonly used to designate a brazier’s or a cheese monger’s shop, as well as a chemist’s. This variation in possibilities is a reflection of the fact that shop signs were more often adopted to identify the establishment, meaning the person or family who owned the business, rather than the trade itself.