A Cracking c.1930s Painted Oak 'Hotel'; Advertising Reflective Road Sign


Origin: English
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1927-35
Width: 43.5 inches
Height: 32 inches
Depth: 1.25 inches

The large rectangular oak 'Hotel' sign with traces of the original blue paint, the letters formed from applied circular reflective beads, illuminating in direct light, and cast metal mounts survives from the early twentieth century.

In original overall order, with its cast iron mounting brackets for attachment to a telegraph pole, the sign has weathering commensurate with its age to its paint. All of the original reflectors are present and illuminate in direct light just as they would have done in the thirties. We have not restored or cleaned the item aside from a light wax. The sign has the original name plate reading:  “MUR - RAY Signs Ltd…FALLOWFIELD, MANCHESTER Patent No 194034.

MUR - RAY signs Ltd were owned by Richard Hollins Murray, and it was he who first patent registered the idea of reflective glass beads for advertising signs and road signage in 1927. Common knowledge is that it was Percy Shaw of road cats eyes fame who first had this idea but he merely adapted them to be used to the present day for road markings.

As such, this reflective lens had been invented six years earlier for use in advertising signs by Richard Hollins Murray, an accountant from Herefordshire. Richard Hollins Murray, at one time resident at Dinmore Manor, Herefordshire, patented the use of reflecting lenses for reflective markers or advertising signs; Patent GB 289619, applied for in 192 which, addressed techniques for assembling light-reflecting devices to form “indicators, advertising signs or the like”.

This is a very scarce and entertaining sign that would have been expensive to make at the time, from the true pioneer behind the reflective cats eye and as such is a rare piece for fans of advertising, motoring or simply the marvellously decorative.