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One saleroom in particular taking advantage of this is Chippenham Auction Rooms in Wiltshire.

It holds dedicated sales of enamel signs, toys and collectors’ items. The next such offering is on January 28 and includes a large private collection. The Nestlé’s Swiss Milk enamel sign pictured here, in a rare shape, is estimated at £480-550.

According to the BBC History of the World: “Although first used in the manufacture of coloured metal panels for buildings, the process of fusing coloured glass to iron plates, known as vitreous enamelling, patented in England in the 1870s, was soon turned to the production of brilliantly coloured enamelled iron plates, advertising all manner of products, ranging from groceries, newspapers and tobacco, to bicycles and motor cars.

“By the start of the First World War, almost every small shop in Great Britain would have had a colourful display of permanent advertising signs on its external walls.”

The Second World War sounded the death knell for such adverts with steel needed for the war effort, along with factors such as supermarkets pushing out small shops.

chippenhamauctionrooms.co.uk

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