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"Were Victorian Period Towns, Cities, This Cluttered?" Topic

23 Posts

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2,085 hits since 15 May 2017
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Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2017 10:41 p.m. PST

By clutter I mean visually:



That picture is a street scene in 1840s London.

But were the walls of buildings just as cluttered with notices and adverts later on at the end of the 19th century?

Was this just in the big cities of Europe and America, or did small towns have the same level of advertisement chaos?

Anyone know?


Hobhood4 Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2017 10:49 p.m. PST

As far as I know yes. There were no rules about posting bills/hoardings. However, this image may exaggerate a bit for effect. But see here


Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2017 10:53 p.m. PST


Well, that is certainly an interesting piece! Thanks so much.


acatcalledelvis16 May 2017 1:49 a.m. PST

Levels of literacy must have been pretty high for all those posters to have any use!!

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2017 3:34 a.m. PST

Anyone who was illiterate probably didn't have enough money to buy what was being advertised!

Target audience and all that….

Ramming Inactive Member16 May 2017 3:54 a.m. PST

There were local bye laws prohibiting 'bill stickers', probably still are.

Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2017 4:02 a.m. PST

I was a bit young then, but to the best of my memory, yes they were. 😁 Lovely diorama, BTW

Wargamorium16 May 2017 4:25 a.m. PST

There must have been a lot of very tall people about to read those high posters.

Old Peculiar16 May 2017 4:32 a.m. PST

Yes, no TV or Radio, or interweb thingy!

Belisarius16 May 2017 6:00 a.m. PST

Those who could read would read the notices to friends, family and neighbors.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2017 6:57 a.m. PST

Well, we're 50+ years too late to ask him, but my grandfather actually went in advance of a circus in the US Midwest posting bills, and naturally trying to cover the bills of competing circuses. That's small towns late Victorian or Edwardian. Mind you, the literacy rates were improving all over the English-speaking world in the period. I expect by late Victorian times, it was higher among native-born than it is today.

Worth noting that in several of the illustrations the bills high up on the walls and fences have larger fonts than many of the ones lower down.

That last illustration on the link, though--all those giant shoes, umbrellas and what-not on top buildings--was a sight to warm the heart of a kid who read Batman in the 1950's.

TGerritsen16 May 2017 7:47 a.m. PST

Thus the reason for this sign…


TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2017 9:58 a.m. PST

…and naturally trying to cover the bills of competing circuses.

Exactly what I thought when I saw "no rules about posting bills" comment, and how people would just plaster over each others'. Eventually, the yellow journalists would report the terrible disaster when inches of plaster and glue would peel away and crush the passerbys.


Frederick Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2017 11:15 a.m. PST

I think so!

Timbo W16 May 2017 1:15 p.m. PST

Bill Stickers is Innocent!!

coryfromMissoula16 May 2017 3:23 p.m. PST

I have renovated buildings of the "Old West" vintage and have seen posters and ads three or four layers deep that were covered up with a later layer of siding. They didn't cover everything though, such a thick plastering would be on a prime piece of visual real estate.

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2017 4:18 p.m. PST

Thus the reason for this sign…

Sorry, missed that previously. That's actually a warning to debt collectors to not use the US mail…

Bill Stickers is Innocent!!

Aye, a charming mountebank, but his guilt adheres to him like glue. Slapped against the wall, his sins pay mute testimony.


Ramming Inactive Member17 May 2017 3:33 a.m. PST

Yes we used to write that beneath too, Bill Stickers is innocent, keep running Bill' schoolboy humour, ho ho.

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP17 May 2017 5:21 p.m. PST


These posters could be really BIG!

RobSmith22 May 2017 10:32 a.m. PST

Some later pictures:

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP25 May 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

I'm reading William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill, "The Last Lion" (a great book) and the early sections deal with the England that Churchill grew up in. In one section he makes note of the gangs of ad hangers who went out at night. Pretty much any flat surface (including ships at the wharfs on the Thames!) was fair game and sometimes people would wake up to discover that their windows and even their doors had been papered over with ads.

So yes, I think the first picture is probably accurate for some neighborhoods.

Tom D101 Jun 2017 7:19 a.m. PST

Post No Bills

Storyforu01 Jun 2017 10:52 p.m. PST

The scenario writes itself; in what starts out to be just saavy business competition multiple gangs of bill posters keep upping the ante until violence ensues and the San Francisco Police Department is forced to intervene.

Could just do it in a 2'x2' pit setting, with flat 'building' walls around the edges and a handful of slum / tenement buildings creating the alleyways in the center of the pit.

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