Look What I Found!

I was thrilled to acquire this c. 1960's African barbershop sign (above) at our antiques faire this past weekend. It is from the Ivory Coast of Africa. I just thought it was so unique and cool. After some research, I discovered just how collectible they are.

They are still being done in Africa, and are usually painted on plywood or masonite. The sign boards are painted by the barbers or hairdressers themselves, or possibly by paid artists. They are colorful and fun and reflect the ancient African tradition, as well as current influences such as celebrities.

They are intended both to identify the businesses and to advertise the services offered.

c. 1950's sign

By identifying the hair style, you can pretty much tell the time frame that they were painted. The very old signs have become almost folk art and high collectible.

Several museums have featured African Hair-dresser’s signs, including Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing the Hair at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA in 1995, and Hair in African Art and Culture at the Museum of African Art in New York in 2000.

There are even books on African barbershop signs such as these;

Joe's Hair That Talks: The Vibrant Sign Culture of Ghana


Hairdresser and Barbershop Signs in Africa, both for sale here.

So the question is, do I keep my sign or sell it?

sign photos & info from: arkitip, areyarey/flickr


Anonymous said…
Wow those are just amazing! Keep yours, at least for a while!
Mar gar et said…
Had no idea this type of artwork existed. Keep yours-it's such a perfect example of mid-c. art-reminds me of something from the set of "I Love Lucy" for some reason. My friends from the Ivory Coast would love these.
24 Corners said…
Truly pieces of art...love them all!
xo J~

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