Over Two Centuries of Sign Design, Manufacturing and Installation Experience
Throughout man’s existence we have been trying to get our message out. Cave dwellers used bits of coal and primitive wall symbols informing neighbouring tribes of their story. Hieroglyphics in the ancient tombs of the Egyptians portray the life and times of the period. Directional signs have helped people navigate their way for centuries. Old English pub signs let weary travellers know where they could get a warm meal and a pint. Today, LED illuminated beacons convey well known brands from atop skyscrapers. Messaging history has evolved into the vast industry of branding and signage with the same primary function as the earlier forms...
Communicating the message.
Now think about your brand message. It broadcasts your organisation’s icon and should be prominent for all who see it. For 220 years Pearce Signs has embodied the importance of your branded message. Our story begins with the evolution of the commercial branded message.
To learn more about our history visit the Pearce Signs Vintage Signage Gallery.
Our roots began in 1791 located in what was then referred to as Southwark, UK, (since absorbed by London), across the Thames from central London. Samuel Pearce Sr. laid the ground work for his son as an apprentice with James Ince, a local candle maker. Described as a “Sign-Writer”, Samuel Jr. and a generation of descendants and labourers embarked on developing a quality signage company using the contemporary materials of the time including; parchment, quill & ink, wood & chisel carving and available paint mediums. The centralised location of Pearce’s manufacturing lent itself to the large population of businesses and manufactures who used the Thames as a major transportation thorough-fare.
At the end of the Victorian era and with the robust momentum of the industrial revolution, the Pearce family business thrived and encompassed 2 generations. One of the most notable personalities during this time was Henry James Pearce, distinguished by the nickname “The Guvnor”. Henry inherited his position at a very young age, yet this was no deterrent for his determination to grow the business scope and eventually move it to New Cross. His passionate focus to detail and quality flowed through every essence of Pearce Signs' operations. Embracing new methods and materials, Henry expanded the family business parameters to include contemporary displays for the period. One example of these innovations was the glass signage with light bulb fixtures illuminating Leicester Square as the first electrical sign installed by Pearce.
The early 1900s saw the introduction of neon lighting which provided valuable opportunities in the signage industry. Complete customisable letter sets displayed a company's name in a variety of different colours. Yet, with the onset of WWII, the New Cross facility changed its focus for the war effort. Domed headlights were designed and manufactured to reduce the visibility of car lighting from the sky and incoming enemy aircraft. This wartime period had a profound effect on Pearce’s industry as commercial shops were not allowed to illuminate their signs, even the use of metal was discouraged. London had been heavily damaged, and fuel rations limited the geographic region from which customers could be sought.
With the end of the war, a true entrepreneur spirit evolved and with it the demand for branding and contemporary signs grew. This promoted the re-growth of Pearce Signs to include a fleet of installation trucks advertising the Pearce name throughout southern England. Innovations in practical materials used in signage were also becoming readily available. Once used as cock-pit windshields, “Perspex” (a clear plastic sheeting) was invaluable for protecting neon tubing. Its flexible make up was a perfect match to the variations in brand designs, and Pearce utilised it in a vast number of customised signs. Through the many industry advancements the paramount feature of Pearce Signs was quality.
In the 30s, John Harold Pearce, “JH”, the 2nd son of “The Guvnor”, became the natural heir to the Pearce legacy. Displaying a fastidious drive for quality, product design, fabrication and customer service, ‘JH’ focused his talents on generating new customers and markets in Pearce’s line up. His expertise in the industry allowed him to detail a client’s needs with the functionality of the installation. He expanded the market presence of Pearce Signs in the 50s with the opening of Pearce Signs Canada Ltd. This provided multiple opportunities to expand Pearce Signs' customer base into the United States.
The latter half of the 20th Century brought new facilities and a new Pearce family associate, Brian Pearce, into the legacy of Pearce Signs. Technology was on the rise too as fluorescent lighting became the lighting of choice and computers came into play for communication, graphic design and architectural drawing. Brian knew that these innovations were paramount to the sign industry as well as the efficiencies of Pearce Signs' staff. The market place was expanding globally and Pearce Signs was perfectly equipped to answer the call.
1991 marked the Bi-centennial celebration for Pearce Signs and provided the opportunity to reflect and celebrate the legacy that began with one man’s apprenticeship to what has grown to be a superior sign purveyor at the forefront of signage in a global market.
Today, our celebration of 220 years in the signage industry reflects on the past, embraces the present and looks forward to the future with our strongest guiding principal of quality and value for every sign project we earn. The products, materials and technology in this century are more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly than in any years past. These elements combined with Pearce Signs' extensive experience enables us to ensure that your brand shines as the icon of your company’s message.