A Large Early 20thC Reverse Glass Painted Cycle Maker Advertising Sign c.1930-35

Origin: English
Period: Early 20thC
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1930-35
Height: 21.5”
Width: 78.5”
Depth: 1.75”

The wonderfully decorative and imposing reverse glass painted advertising sign for a Cycle Maker, at six and a half feet long, the mirrored gold lettering with pink edgings to a inky blue black ground, the whole in a good quality period gilt frame and being glazed, surviving from 1930s England.

The signs show its age which is attractive and there has been no attempt to repaint or restore the worn areas where some colours are absent. There are some small losses to the frame. The glazing has protected it from any further paint loss.

The popularity of glass as a building material and for decoration in particular increased after the Great Exhibition of 1851, the centrepiece of which, the Crystal Palace, used glass with great extravagance. A technique known as ‘back-painting’ became popular in the 1870s and brought rich colour into play, as we see with this example.

Paintings which have been reverse painted on glass have the picture or information painted on the back of the glass so that it can be seen the correct way round from the front and is protected by the glass. It is a technique that has been used for portrait and landscape paintings which were then framed, for advertisements often on mirrors such as this, and for decorating the inside of bottles.

Back in 1935 the rise in popularity of cycling was measured in share prices and output.  The trend, it seems, was for companies who had hitherto focussed on turning out cars and motorcycles, to take on cycle manufacture or to increase their production.

In the immediate years following the end of the First World War cycling had diminished in popularity due mainly to the huge loss of life suffered by those who formerly had made the machines and those younger people who would otherwise have used them. This ‘dislocation’ in the industry continued to affect sales into the late twenties, but by the early thirties improvements in road safety, a greater awareness of the threat posed by motor vehicles, and a desire for a healthier life-style among all age groups, created a huge demand. Add to these factors a significant improvement in mechanised bicycle manufacture and many more cycles for children being made available at this time plus the abandonment of more formal skirts and dresses that had made the pastime awkward for women in the Edwardian era, more ladies had taken up cycling.

A showstopping sign, very rarely seen in these proportions.