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Carved wooden apothecary sign, Europe, 1750-1850

Shaped in the form of a jester’s head, it is thought that this sign was used to advertise an apothecary’s shop. Before the numbering of street buildings began to become commonplace towards the end of the 1700s, houses and commercial properties were usually known by their name or by the signs that hung over them. In this case, medical products might have been indicated as being available in a particular street, ‘at the sign of the jester’s head’.

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Glossary: shop sign

Use broadly for signs identifying places of business.