A Marvellous Mid 20thC Cream Painted Cinema Seating Indicator Sign

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Origin: English
Period: Mid Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1935-55
Height: 26.75 inches
Width: 31.5 inches
Depth: 1.5 inches


The buff and ruby red hand painted wooden rectangular cinema seating indicator with slide panels showing seating availability as ‘Queueing’, ‘Standing’ and ‘Seats’ and price brackets ‘2/6’, ‘2/1’, ‘1/6’, survives from the second quarter of the twentieth century.

The indicator is in solid overall order, there are one or two areas of over-painting, with one of the small knobs lacking. This aside, all of the slide panels operate and the whole has survived rather well.

Cinema arrived in England in around 1895 and reached almost every corner of the globe by the end of 1896. The heyday for the cinema was during the 1930s, when up to half the population visited the cinema twice a week. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, cinemas closed, only to reopen two weeks later and to continue operating throughout the war, offering customers an escape from daily reality. From the 1950s, as television became more widely available, the cinema declined in popularity. Many of the glamorous 1930s ‘dream palaces’ were demolished or converted to bingo or snooker halls. This seating indicator sign was used in a cinema in probably owned by the ABC chain. All ABC cinemas would have used identical signs.

With theatre interiors regularly being stripped and redesigned, this example is scarce and could now be utilised in a multitude of ingenious ways. Queueing may indeed be required.

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