LONDON (AFP) – Anglophiles, collectors and Beatles fans began a bidding battle on Wednesday as a bevy of original London street signs, including one of the iconic Abbey Road, went on sale at auction.
The world-famous street, home to the studios where The Beatles recorded most of their albums, is the standout lot in the collection of around 270 used signs being offered at the two-week online sale.
Abbey Road itself featured on the cover of the Fab Four album of the same name and the sign could fetch more than GBP5,000 (USD6,930, EUR5,750), according to auctioneer Catherine Southon, who is handling the offering.
“Who knows? The sky’s the limit,” she told AFP, describing it as “the real king of the road signs”.
Bidding for the unique piece of signage reached GBP1,110 within hours of the auction getting under way.
Other notable names going under the virtual hammer include Prince’s Gate, which overlooks Hyde Park in the upmarket Knightsbridge district, and Savoy Place near the River Thames in the West End.
Pimlico Road in the SW1 postcode – a key destination for antiques dealers and interior designers – Westbourne Park Road on the Notting Hill Carnival route and Belgrave Place in swanky Belgravia are also expected to prove popular.
Westminster City Council, responsible for local governance in most of central London, is selling the collection, pledging to invest the money raised “back into services for people in our city”.
The signs’ iconic design, which features the street name in black and the corresponding postcode in red, was created by architect and designer Misha Black in 1967 for the council.
It cannot be used anywhere else in the world under copyright law.
“This collection offers a unique opportunity to own part of our city’s history,” Deputy Leader Melvyn Caplan said in a statement announcing the sale last month.
“These are original signs which have been on the streets of London in recent years – through historic moments and cultural milestones.”
He noted a small number of signs have typographical errors, while some others also feature graffiti marking moments of cultural and political significance.
Some lots have starting prices as low as GBP30, but Southon said interest in the overall collection has been “astronomical”, suggesting that bidding could be brisk and prices could climb considerably over the 14-day sale.
“People have been buying into this whole idea of buying a street sign and putting it up in their home for a bit of nostalgia,” she added.
“It’s just iconic, this wonderful black and red, which is just something that we associate with London.
“At times like this, when a lot of us are staying outside of London and not commuting in, you forget the sights, the sounds, the smells of the city, and it’s just wonderful to have something like this to remind us.”