The use of signs
and stone tablets dates back till far before our era.
The Romans knew them already.
The best known is the wreath on their
Many years later we meet them also in
There is an old saying "Good wine
needs no wreath."
During the excavations in Pompeii lots of signs and
tablets were found who served as house marks.
A tablet with a goat on it must have
been the sign of a milk shop
and one with Bacchus showed the place
where wine was sold.
In 1868 Van Lennep and Ter Gouw
published their book THE SIGNS
in which they dealt with the subject
of signs and stone tablets.
"A town will show his history
by means of signs and
They show us what happened in the old days,
how people lived and thought."
Originally houses, inns etc. were made of wood
with an iron sign indicating where one could shoe a
have a drink, buy a hat or a loaf of bread.
Wooden houses were very vulnerable in case of fire
and thatís why they were gradually replaced by brick
But there was another reason.
In 1557 the Amsterdam citizens
were ordered to shorten their footpaths and signs
because they obstructed the traffic.
In 1669 wooden gables were forbidden.
When they built more and more in stone
the function of the iron signs
was gradually taken over by stone tablets.
Well-to-do people choose a stone tablet
on which family life was depicted.
The shoemaker showed a boot, a tailor a pair of scissors.
St. John the patron saint of furriers could be found
on their workshops.
Inns showed a fried cock or a swan
and the Good Samaritan also was a popular subject
for this branch.