London street signs auction

Westminster Council is auctioning off a collection of 1950s and 60s street signs taken down from London’s most iconic roads.

Collectors can bid for over 300 signs at an online auction on Thursday May 18, with estimates for the famous placards ranging from £60 to £300 plus a buyer’s premium of 20% on top of the hammer price.

Among the treasures are 50 original cast iron signs for streets in W1, including Regent Street and Cavendish Place estimated for £200-300 which bear the Crown Estate’s gilted crown emblem and relief lettering. Also on sale are 280 more recent enamelled steel signs with the iconic red and black sans serif writing unique to Westminster designed by Sir Misha Black in 1967.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Cabinet Member for City Management, said: “The council regularly maintains and updates street signs to ensure our public spaces are looking their best at all times, and these signs have been taken down and replaced after being on display for a number of years.

“Westminster is home to some of the most popular landmarks and most recognisable locations in the world, and this is a rare opportunity for members of the public to own a piece of the city’s rich and colourful history.”

A sign for Beak Street in Soho is one of 50 Crown Estate signs for sale. Image: Catherine Southon.

Those looking for memorabilia for the upcoming Coronation next month will also be able to get their hands on signs from royally named streets including Queen Anne Street in Marylebone and Buckingham Gate in SW1. All signs come with a signed certificate of authenticity.

Proceeds from the auction conducted by Catherine Southon, will go towards funding public services in Westminster. Previous sales of street signs have made thousands of pounds. In 2021 the council raised over £143,000 for the previous batch of signs – including £37,000 for the Abbey Road sign – home to the studios and zebra crossing made famous by the Beatles.

SIGNED SEALED AND DELIVERED: Some signs to be auctioned off stood for years at London’s most iconic spots – this one was from near Oxford Circus. Image: Catherine Southton.

Southon, a professional expert in antiques, commented that the signs brought back memories as a Londoner, with her personal favourite being Maddox Street in Mayfair, and said the auction was a chance for buyers including individuals to ‘own a piece of London’s history’.

She said: “We are privileged to be selling a vast collection of iconic London street signs on behalf of Westminster City Council who are upgrading their signs. As a South Londoner myself these street signs have great memories of places with so much history in one of the most famous capital cities in the world.

“Maddox Street in particular is a special one for me as I often frequented the local bars and restaurants there when I started my career many moons ago!”

Image: Westminster Council.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: