Not really a secret that I'm somewhat fascinated by signs. The old banners that I like photographing are, as I've probably said, holdovers that I appreciate -- relics creeping through.
But it extends past the old-school signs -- perhaps it's just an interest in printed communication in general. When I lived in West Germany briefly as a kid, I became enamored -- that may not even be strong enough -- with the European road signs. My favorite (I kid you not) was the "men at work" style of sign shown above. Somewhere in the family basement is a collection of hand-crafted miniature wooden road sign replicas, some of my favorite toys during that period of time. The men at work sign resides on my bookshelf even today. Whenever I laugh at someone for weird hobbies (the New Yorker alludes to stiletto heel collectors this week), I have to remember that present and past interests of mine include shit like road signs, books about Albania, and hockey jerseys.
The other day, idle at work, I did some internet searching in an attempt to get more information on a half-remembered anecdote from years back -- one stating that years ago, when U.S. road signs were much less standardized, symbols like the forbidding palm of a hand were used as stop signs instead of today's more familiar octagon. I didn't find any confirmation, and lost interest in the search after a bit, but stumbled across a few fun things. One is another old favorite that I'd forgotten about -- a page devoted to road signs of the world, with pithy comments throughout. There's also a section devoted to the ruins of old mills, which I always ignored before but holds some appeal. Then there's this, a few photos of old and odd street signs from London.