Sweden 2020 part IX - Sign of the Times

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August 14th 2020
Published: January 10th 2021
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Sign for glasses

Signs en masse

One thing we find a bit fascinating is that once you go about two hours by car north or northwest from Stockholm the shop signs start to change in style. The best way we can describe them is that the shop signs look antique. Similar signs further south in Sweden are more likely to look more modern. It seems to be a north of Stockholm thing. Or possibly, it is more of rural thing?

We like these signs so much that we have decided to dedicate an entire blog entry to them. We have not posted all the photos we took, only the best ones. We have like a dozen more pictures of antique style signs that did not come out any good for various reasons.

If we had really tried we guess that we could have taken at least 50 more photos of antique style signs just by visiting more towns.

How many of these signs that actually are old and how many that have been made to look old we actually don't know. Our guess is that many of them actually are from the
Hair dresserHair dresserHair dresser

Sign for a hair dresser
1960-ies or possibly from the 70-ies. Are they still around because the owners of the establishments they are advertising can not afford to buy new signs or are they deliberately preserved as a cultural heritage? We hope the latter is the reason we have these wonderful signs around, but fear that the former might be closer to the truth.

Some of the signs only say what kind of business that is run in the building, such as hair dresser, bar, café or men's fashion. Other signs have the name of the business. For example Appelbergs, Ohlséns or Sven Larsson. Then we guess the customers will have to find some other way to figure out if it is a butcher shop, a hotel or if they are selling stationeries inside. If the shop has windows they hopefully display their merchandise there.

Thinking about it, there is a neon sign in Stockholm with an interesting background. It advertised toothpaste and was very recognisable and a famous part of the city life in the 1950-ies. It was taken down in the 60-ies and nobody thought more of it until 30 years later. They were then making a

A business called Ohlséns
TV series where the story takes place in Stockholm in the 1950-ies. They had to recreate what Stockholm looked like then and, to make it authentic, they recreated the toothpaste sign. After they had shot the TV series it was decided that the sign should remain. 30 years later it is still there telling us all to buy toothpaste.

One more thing, the second part of the title we did not come up with ourselves. We borrowed that one from people who are better at writing texts than we are. If you listened to Brit pop in the 1980-ies you might recognise the lyrics below. If the cultural reference is lost to you, well the song is pretty good and it is an old one, just like we thing these signs are, so don't be afraid to look for it and listen to it.

This is the sign of the times
Piece of more to come
This is the sign of the times
Time to be alone
This is the sign of the times (the sign of the times)
Piece of more to come
This is the sign of the times
Time to be

A business called Appelbergs

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 24



A business called Appelberg
Frick's patisserie Frick's patisserie
Frick's patisserie

Sign for a patisserie called Fricks

A party room called Träffen
Gamla FärghandelnGamla Färghandeln
Gamla Färghandeln

Sign for a café named Gamla Färghandeln
 Patisserie Patisserie

Sign for a patisserie
Sven LarssonSven Larsson
Sven Larsson

A business called Sven Larsson

Sign for a jeweller's shop

Sign for a cinema

A business called Scheldins

Sign for a bar
Men's fashionMen's fashion
Men's fashion

Sign for a men's fashion store

A business called Burmans
Books, stationeries and photoBooks, stationeries and photo
Books, stationeries and photo

Sign for books, stationeries and photo

Cinemas in Sweden are often named Saga. This cinema has two screens
Berg's jewelleriesBerg's jewelleries
Berg's jewelleries

Sign for a jeweller's shop named Bergs

Sign for furniture
People's HousePeople's House
People's House

Sign for a Folkets Hus, People's House, a traditional leisure and cultural centre.

A business called Ewys

A business called Ritzéns

A business called Rehnströms
August LarssonAugust Larsson
August Larsson

A business called August Larsson
Folkets ParkFolkets Park
Folkets Park

Sign for a Folkets Park, People's Park, a traditional leisure and amusement park.

10th January 2021

Nice signs!
Nice pictures you've got! I guess a lot of them are actually older, between 1940-1970 was the peak area for neon signs (although the first neon sign in Stockholm was an advertising for the newspaper "Dagens nyheter" from the beginning of December 1924, and light bulb signs appeared from 1909. So a lot of them could be 70-80 years old!
11th January 2021

Nice information
Thank you Daniel for contributing with some interesting additional information. /Ake
10th January 2021

Thanks for sharing. In these days of travel restrictions, I can at least 'travel' with you ;o)
10th January 2021

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs...
Another musical reference about signs :) But to be honest, even before you mentioned the pop reference, it was Prince who came to mind as soon as I read your title! This blog on Signs is great, and such a beautiful way to illustrate the more subtle feel of a place. There have been a few cases of beautiful old neon signs being Heritage Listed in Australia; a good move considering some developers don't think twice before demolishing them.
11th January 2021

Heritage listed signs
I'd love to see those heritage listed signs in Oz. I guess they are awesome. /Ake
13th January 2021

For the Love of Signs
I really enjoyed reading about and seeing the photos of signs in this blog -- many people don't even think about them or recognize that they hold some artistic value. Signs such as the ones you photographed also pinpoint a time in history which I feel is important to preserve in some cases. My particular favorites are the "Burmans," "Frick's Konditori," and "August Larson." Interestingly enough, people on another site I belong to post photos of traditional old and newer street signs which I also find fascinating.
13th January 2021

Glad you liked it
Glad to here that you enjoyed reading this blog entry. These older neon signs are really special and I wish that they could be actively preserved somehow. Today I don't think there is anything that would prevent a show owner from dismantling one. /Ake
16th January 2021

A sign of the times
We enjoyed your observations. We did a blog on signs a few years ago and it was a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing.
17th January 2021

Can you send me the link?
Can you send me the link to your blog? I'd like to read it. /Ake
16th January 2021

What a beauty.
Great theme blog, Ake & Emma. I invite you to post your favourites in our "Signs, Signs & more Signs" thread in the Photography Forum. Too good to miss out on!
17th January 2021

I'll try to find time to do that
I am goinf to try to find time to do that today. /Ake
3rd May 2021

I like your idea of dedicating a whole blog entry to a theme. Very interesting signs indeed! I think I have caught up now with your Sweden trip 2020 - yay! A great trip, very inspirational, and amazing what you can find scratching beneath the surface of one's own country. I look forward to Sweden 2021 🙂
3rd May 2021

We have already begun writing the 2021 blogs
We have already had time to visit some places in Sweden this year. One blog we have published so far and there will be more coming before summer. Hope you will enjoy reding those as well. /Ake

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