I have a great idea for a novel. You know what would make it even better?…
Tag Archives: Charlie Chaplin
October 17, 2012Posted by on
So, there’s an old Looney Tunes cartoon, Porky in Wackyland, that’s notable for its use of surrealism. At one point in the cartoon, a three-headed creature speaks unintelligibly, and another creature explains “He says his mother was frighted by a Pawn Broker’s sign.” We were just watching an early Charlie Chaplin short, “The Pawn Shop,” and at one point Charlie is climbing a ladder outside the shop, and hits his head against one of 3 brass spheres hanging over the entrance of the shop. The shop also has a sign with 3 spheres drawn on it.
So it hit me: Before literacy was as common as it is now, you would have needed symbols to advertise different types of businesses. The striped barber’s pole, and the doctors’ snakes survived until now. The pawn brokers’ 3 spheres must have died out in the early twentieth century (or maybe I’ve just never observed it?). I wonder what other symbols there were for other types of businesses?
Yes, this is the kind of thing that is running through my mind pretty much all the time.