A Little History About the World of Signage

From cave paintings to digital printing, signs and symbols have been around since human beings first began expressing themselves. 

The word ‘sign’ comes from the ancient Latin ‘signum’, meaning mark or token. In Rome, signs were carved into stone or terra cotta. The Romans recognised the importance of signage in trade and introduced the first road sign system to indicate distances and direction.

In the 14th century, King Richard III of England passed a law that any establishment that sold ale must place a sign out in front of its building. Low levels of literacy meant most users of pub names would reference the sign directly. People would arrange to meet "at the sign of the Eagle and Child" rather than "at the Eagle and Child." Patrons may not have been able to distinguish the phrase but they could recognise the picture on the sign. 

As these early businesses strived to keep up with competitors, their signs became increasingly elaborate. Then with World War II came the advent of mass production. Together with improvements in materials such as plastics, printing larger quantities of signs grew more affordable.

Today, sign making has advanced to such an extent that signs are generally designed and printed or cut using some highly technological equipment, such as plotters and wide format printers, CNC routers, Laser Cutters and LED lighting. There are hundreds of printable materials, colours and sizes. 

Businesses have more scope to design and manufacture memorable quality signs for their clients but traditional design skills and professionalism remain as important as ever. Signs are still used as an effective way of communication but clients today have more options.

With the leading technology available at our nationwide Signwise branches, we have a history of delivering our clients smarter, visually spectacular and cost effective signage.