Vintage UK Trolley Signs — Wall Art

We let out a collective, audible gasp when we spied these at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. Graphic. European. Vintage. Cool.

Totley Route Sign

Vintage UK Route SignsPhotographs by Ann Revoredo

Straight off I could visualize them as artwork in a home setting:

routesign2Photograph by Nicole Bliss

The route signs came from UK double-decker buses and trolleys. DeWayne Lumpkin of economica sleuthed around to find the impactful fabric scrolls.

“I first noticed the signs in room settings for Ralph Lauren paint at Home Depot and later a Ralph Lauren Black Polo for Men cologne commercial and was intrigued by them,” said Lumpkin.

“I did some research and located a large lot at a live auction event where they were willing to package for international shipping. There were no photographs of the items being auctioned, but I felt fairly certain they were what I was looking for….Later I located a source whose mother and father both drove the trolley buses and he is involved in their restoration and continuing use in the East Sussex area of England. I now get them directly from him,” said Lumpkin.

Route Signs at Indoor Marketplace

Lumpkin describes his treasures with vigor. “All of the route signs I offer are vintage and range from the 1950’s to the 1970’s (with a few rare exceptions).”

The printed linen or calico cloth feels like oil-cloth. Rolls vary in length from 4 to 12 feet and Lumpkin adds dowels at both ends, for ease in hanging.

Davidmetnicole_Wingback“…They have only recently (in the last 2 years or so) popped up on the radar as an alternative to tradiional artwork,” said Lumpkin. An Australian company even used some signs as upholstery.

Marley and Lockyer show other creative uses here.

Lumpkin and his business partner sell the route signs online at their economica Etsy store, and at large Flea Markets (most often at the monthly market on the Bay in Alameda, California).


Here’s a 10-foot long German sign that Lumpkin special-ordered for a New Jersey customer’s loft. “The route sign at the end of the galley kitchen is a real show-stopper—I especially loved the red band on a single location and the red font on another location,” said Lumpkin.

German Route Sign in Loft

“I’ve actually had inquiries from people in England, Ireland and Australia who have been unable to locate anyone selling them on their side of the pond,” said Lumpkin. “It’s amusing how objects have a life of their own and travel back and forth between continents and countries (much like some people).”


What’s the best use of graphics as artwork you’ve come across?

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