Sunday, 5 July 2009
A sign - borne Michelin
Like it or not, you're getting the sign I thought I was giving you for the PhotoHunt on Saturday. It's a polite sign after all.
The photo of this unusual road sign was taken in March when I was out and about. I had no idea what it was apart from the fact that it looked old and I had never seen one like it before. I arrived home and headed for the computer to do a little research.
Michelin is of course the French company possibly best know as a tyre manufacturer, but also as a producer of maps and restaurant/hotel guides. The complete motoring experience. Included in the early years of the motoring experience were road signs.
As early as 1908, the company produced signs at the entrance (Please slow down) and exits (Thank you) of towns. These bore the name Michelin and were installed free of charge. After the first world war, the company started to produce direction signs consisting of enamalled plaques on concrete. They experimented with a number of different shapes, and in 1928 came up with the design illustrated.
It wasn't until 1931 that the format was officially approved but by 1948 everything had changed, and they were no longer allowed to add the company name to the sign. Michelin continued to make them, but the four-sided signs with plaques gave way to plaques shaped like arrows.
The date of the sign I found must then be between 1931 and 1948. Fewer and fewer can be seen around - Michelin ceased all production in 1971 and the few that remain are gradually being replaced. Some have ended their lives as flower containers. Whether this is a fitting end to a once-proud road-sign, I'm really not sure.
Those of you who are as interested in odd trivia as I am, can see more of these on a French site dedicated to Michelin signposts.