Finally the journey leads to the city of Tamara. You penetrate it along streets thick with signboards jutting from the walls. The eye does not see things but images of things that mean other things [...]
The city is redundant: it repeats itself so that something will stick in the mind. [...] [Calvino, Invisible Cities: Tamara (p13), Zirma (p19)]
In Hampstead there are at least two roads where the sign-fitters ran out of letters for the mosaic-tiled strret name plates, and were forced to re-use the design's constituent elements to get the job done: on WILLQUGHBY Rd. NW3 (map), a Q is pressed into service as an O. And by the time they got to TEMPLEWQQD,AVENUE,NW3 (map), they'd run out of spaces as well (substituting in the comma tiles), but had started making design decisions: the Q tile standing in for an O will read better if it's placed upside down.
he has not succeeded in discovering which is the city that those of the plateau call Irene. For that matter, it is of slight importance: if you saw it, standing in its midst, it would be a different city; Irene is a name for a city in the distance, and if you approach, it changes. [...] perhaps I have already spoken of Irene under other names; perhaps I have spoken only of Irene. [Invisible Cities: Irene (p124-5)]
- Jack Schulze's St John St and Public Lettering: London street signs
- Dan Hill's Remembering signs and lettering and Consistency and the UI of street signs (differently designed street signs on one London junction)
- Christopher Long's London's nameless streets (on problems with street signage, 1996)
- London Transport Users' Committee's Where Am I? Street name signs in London (PDF, 2003) - this interesting report points onward to New York's signage regulations, a website on street signage globally (it's like a Franco-South-American version of Jack's Public Lettering), and the Sign Design Society (website looks a bit fallow).
- UK Dept of Transport's Circular 3/93 - guidelines for councils on street name plates and numbering (PDF)
- update: more street, road and other public signs in Phil Baines's and Catherine Dixon's excellent Signs: Lettering in the Environment book. You'll want this on your shelf.