Vintage Shop Signs of Hamburg from A to Z
You walked past this corner shop for years. Its gorgeous neon sign was probably from when the business first started in the 1950s. But one day the shop was gone and the weird little building was empty for a while. And then it got torn down and replaced by architecture, all smooth and shiny—a pity. Signs and facade lettering characterize the cityscape. They advertise, designate, mark, they are visible from afar and serve orientation. Without lettering there is no city, and so a city can also be portrayed through its neon signs and lettering. The portrait that emerges is multi-layered. It is composed of common, typical, and unique names and designations, of the special relationship to their places, and of the design. And last but not least, it allows conclusions to be drawn about the transformation of a city.
In 2010, the designer Chris Campe took photos of over a 1,000 different shop signs in Hamburg and published the most remarkable ones in the book Hamburg Alphabet, as a typographic portrait of Hamburg. But like any portrait, the Hamburg Alphabet captured only a moment in the every changing city. So ten years after the first edition of the book, Chris Campe went back, took new photos of the signs and published an updated version of Hamburg Alphabet.
More than 40% of the signs documented in 2010 are gone by now. Sometimes they were replaced by more contemporary signage, sometimes an empty wall is all that is left and in some cases not only the sign is gone, but the whole building, too.
Shop signs are only a detail of a cityscape. But the changes in Hamburg’s typographic surface point towards underlying structural transformations. And the “before-and-after photos” in the two editions of the Hamburg Alphabet highlight these changes—and they’re also a great resource of lettering inspiration.
Author and Designer: Chris Campe
2010 Edition: Junius Verlag
ISBN 2010 Edition: 978-3-88506-466-4
2020 Edition: Self Published
Run: limited edition of 250 copies
Format: 17 × 12 cm
Volume: 96 pages, 220 color photos
Language: Introduction in German and English
Price: € 14.90 plus shipping (Germany € 3.– , Europe € 5.–, World € 9.–)