French Sign Painter's Pattern Book

Sign painter’s pattern book. France, ca. 1880-90. Graphic Arts 2010- in process

A large folio pattern book/trade catalogue of signs and labels for clothing shops has been acquired, holding approximately 205 printed examples on 53 stiff-card leaves, each with a dust sheet. The first 13 signs are double page spreads (20 x 25”); the next 17 are single-page (20 x 13”) and the remainder, mostly three to a page or more, are smaller. They appear to have been printed lithographically and in most cases are varnished. Many incorporate gold printing either in borders or letters. All of the signs in one way or another pertain to clothing (vetements), both in styles Français and Anglais.

Each sign is numbered in pencil along with the price, to facilitate ordering. While the designs are not signed, there is one clue. Both covers, front and rear, are decorated with two large initials, an “A” on the upper cover, and an “L” on the lower cover. Thus the maker’s initials were probably ‘AL.’