The antiques road sign which will be posted on the Department for Transport official website as an approved symbol later this month.

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The breakthrough came after The Association of Art and Antiques Dealers, LAPADA, revived the joint campaign launched by ATG with Thames Valley dealer Sylvia Vetta almost ten years ago.

Back then, a competition to find an acceptable design came to nothing after the DoT rejected the concept devised by East Anglian dealer and graphic designer Mike Rhodes.

But this time round, LAPADA chief executive Sarah Percy-Davis persuaded the DoT to provide a working brief which she then took to John Hazlewood, head of the Graphic Design department at Buckinghamshire and Chilterns University to see what his students could come up with.

Last summer they judged the results and a selection was submitted to the DoT for their consideration.

For months LAPADA heard nothing until, fearing they had got nowhere, they approached the DoT for an update on progress in May.

They were astonished and delighted to discover that not only had the department indeed considered the designs, but they had actually chosen one they deemed acceptable for use on the brown road signs.

The simple stylised candelabra design by student Helena Tracey will be posted on the DoT official website as an approved symbol this month.

"We are of course delighted that after nine years the trade's efforts have finally borne fruit," say LAPADA in their summer newsletter. "We would like to thank everyone who has worked on this over the years and whose efforts have helped keep the antiques sign issue alive."

It is now hoped that the leading trade associations will spearhead the widespread use of the symbol, whose use must be approved by local highways authorities.

By Ivan Macquisten