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Carved wooden apothecary sign, Europe, 1750-1850

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. Businesses would often advertise that their products could be bought at, for example, ‘the sign of the dragon’ in a particular street. This sign in the shape of a jester's head once hung outside an apothecary’s shop, somewhere in Europe.

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Glossary: shop sign

Use broadly for signs identifying places of business.