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punning on the name, so common on signboards, finds its precedent on these stones. The grave of Dracontius was embellished with a dragon, that of Onager with a wild ass, and that of Umbricius with a shady tree. Leo's grave received a lion; Doleus, father and son, two casks; Herbaria, two baskets of herbs; and Porcula, a pig. It requires, therefore, but the least possible imagination to see that all these symbols and advertisements were by no means confined to the use of the dead, but were extensively used in the interests of the living.
Street advertising, in its most original form among us, was therefore without doubt derived from the Romans; and this system gradually grew, until, in the Middle Ages, there was hardly a house of business without its distinctive sign or advertisement; which was the more necessary, as in those days numbers to houses were unknown. "In the Middle Ages the houses of the nobility, both in town and country, when the family was absent, were used as hostelries for travellers. The family arms always hung in front of the house, and the most conspicuous object in those arms gave a name to the establishment amongst travellers, who, unacquainted with the mysteries of heraldry, called a lion gules or azure by the vernacular name of the Red or Blue Lion. Such coats of arms gradually became a very popular intimation that there was—
Good entertainment for all that passes—
And innkeepers began to adopt them, hanging out red lions and green dragons as the best way to acquaint the public that they offered food and shelter. Still, as long as civilisation was only at a low ebb, the so-called open houses few, and competition trifling, signs were of but little use. A few objects, typical of the trade carried on, would suffice; a knife for the cutler, a stocking for the hosier, a hand for the glover, a pair of scissors for the tailor, a bunch of grapes for the vintner, fully answered public requirements. But as luxury increased, and the number of houses or shops dealing in the same article multiplied, something more was wanted. Particular trades continued to be confined to particular streets; the desideratum then was to give to each shop a name or token by which it might be mentioned in conversation, so that it could be recommended and customers sent to it. Reading was still a scarce acquirement, consequently to write up the owner's
Wme would have been of little use. Those that could advertised their name by a rebus—thus, a hare and a bottle stood for Harebottle, and two cocks for Cox. Others, whose names could represent, adopted pictorial objects; and as the quantity of these augmented, new subjects were continually required. The animal kingdom was ransacked, from the mighty elephant to the humble bee, from the eagle to the sparrow; the vegetable kingdom, from the palm-tree and cedar to the marigold and daisy; everything on the earth and in the firmament above it was put under contribution. Portraits of the great men of all ages, and views of towns, both painted with a great deal more of fancy than of truth; articles of dress, implements of trades, domestic utensils, things visible and invisible, ' Ea quae sunt tanquam ea quse non sunt,' everything was attempted in order to attract attention and to obtain publicity. Finally, as all signs in a town were painted by the same small number of individuals, whose talents and imagination were limited, it followed that the same subjects were often repeated, introducing only a change in the colour for a difference." *
From the foregoing can be traced the gradual growth of street advertising until it has reached its present extensive pitch; and though the process may be characterised as slow, no one who looks around at the well-covered hoardings and the be-plastered signs on detached and prominent
* "History of Signboards."
houses can doubt that it is sure. Proclamations, and suchlike official announcements, were probably the first specimens of street advertising, as we now understand the term; but it was not until printing became general, and until the people became conversant with the mysteries of reading and writing, that posters and handbills were to any extent used. Mention is made in 1679 of a tradesman named Jonathan Holder, haberdasher, of the city of London, who gave to every purchaser to the extent of a guinea a printed list of the articles kept in stock by him, with the prices affixed. The paper in which this item of news was recorded seems to have regarded Mr Holder's practice as a dangerous innovation, and remarks that it would be quite destructive to trade if shopkeepers lavished so much of their capital in printing useless bills. This utterance now seems ridiculous ; but in the course of another two centuries many orthodox opinions of the present day will receive as complete a downfall as that just recorded.
Within the recollections of men who are still young street advertising has considerably changed. Twenty years ago the billsticker was a nuisance of the most intolerable kind, and though we can hardly now consider him a blessing, his habits have changed very much for the better. Never heeding the constant announcement to him to beware, the billsticker. cared nothing for the privacy of dead walls, or, for the matter of that, of dwelling-houses and street doors; and though he was hardly ever himself to be seen, his disfigurative work was a prominent feature of the metropolis. It was also considered by him a point of honour— if the term may be used in connection with billstickers—to paste over the work of a rival; and so the hoardings used to present the most heterogeneous possible appearance, and though bills were plentiful, their intelligibility was of a very limited description. Sunday morning early used to be a busy time with the wandering billsticker. Provided with a light cart and an assistant, he would make a raid on