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October 31, 2013, 08:47 PM

Downing Street sign sells for £31,500 to John Major's advisor

By Thornton Kay

West Sussex, UK - An enamel steel street sign for Downing Street, estimated at £5,000, sold for £31,500 in the live auction at Summers Place last week. The buyer was David Soskin who lives near the saleroom and was a special advisor to Sir John Major when he was prime minister.

The signs were offered for sale by Westminster City Council, which is upgrading all of its signposts in the capital as part of the Legible London campaign. Each sign comes with a certificate of authenticity verifying its origin, a spokeswoman told MSN. The sale also included groupings of signs with posts, two of which sold to an American phone bidder for a total of £7,500, she said.

The lettering for the signs was designed by Sir Misha Black OBE KBE (1910 - 1977), a Russian emigré who became professor of industrial design at the Royal College of Art and was knighted in 1972. In 2007 Westminster Council paid £50,000 to the estate of Black for the copyright to the font and signage. At the time, Councillor Danny Chalkley, cabinet member for transport and economic development, said, 'We bought the copyright as we felt we needed to retain an element of control over the signs to maintain Westminster's image as a world class tourist information."

This week Councillor Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, said: "We are very pleased with the amount raised so far from today's auction of our historic street signs. Westminster street signs are an integral part of London life and very popular with the millions of visitors that the city hosts every year. We look forward to seeing the results of the sealed bids later this week. London is home to some of the most famous street signs in the world and this auction has shown that buyers are keen to acquire a genuine piece of the capital's history. More than 15 million visitors came to London last year to be greeted and guided to historic locations by signs like these."

The auction also included a rare stove enamelled aluminium and steel prototype sign for Legible London, from 2007, which was bought by Tim Fendley, the original designer, for £1,200.

James Rylands, director of Summers Place Auctions, said he was delighted with the results of the sale.

Summers Place Auctions are supporters of the Salvo Code

Summers Place Auctions

Story Type:  Auction Report

ID: 78941

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