The Royal Label Factory,
Chipping Norton

gave these signs any thought, you probably imagined they were all churned out of some giant industrial complex - there are so many of them, after all.

But they are not all the same. Street name-plates, particularly, are nearly unique; there may be two at each end of your street, and nowhere else in the world. This is not the stuff of modern production lines.

If your street name-plate is made of metal, and has raised lettering, there's a very good chance that you are looking at the produce of the Royal Label Factory, Chipping Norton.

This company got its Royal Warrant in 1876 for supplying metal identification tags for Queen Victoria's rose garden. In her old age, the queen's sight was fading, and the raised lettering was a great boon, acting as a kind of braille.

At the time, this company was the only one who could make such a thing, using the sand-moulding method introduced by its founder, John Smith, great-grandsomething to the present M.D., Tony Froud. Mr. Froud showed me the letters from the Palace confirming the honour, stored in an old folder, kept in one of four sturdy safes in his office.

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