Thursday 17 May 2012

Pavement Advertisements

Here's a new one on me - pavement advertising in the West End, 1856 (as recounted by French visitor Francis Wey, 'A Frenchman sees the English in the Fifties', transl. 1932). What is he talking about? Could be pavement chalking, but that would hardly work after wet weather. Anyone heard of anything similar?

'Publicity invades even the asphalt pavement. It relies on the frequent rain and the habit the people have over here of looking down as they walk. When the weather is fine, dust dulls the surface and nothing much is visible. But as soon as a shower has washed it clean the characters appear, letters blossom under your feet and you find yourself walking on gigantic posters. In this way, the stone flags of London are made as productive as fields of wheat.'


  1. Mosaics, perhaps? Though, you'd think they'd be a bit more famous if that was the case.

  2. I did think of mosaics, although that doesn't really fit 'gigantic posters' ... the most I've ever seen is a name in mosaic on a doorstep or similar. It is a little curious. Would be interesting to check the original French, but I don't have that.

  3. I'm thinking of some kind of paint that appears only when wet, but it sounds a bit James Bond/ science fictiony to me. Enticing, though.