New york house, leeds.

New York House.

Signs by Umberto recently received a commission for their largest reverse gilded glass sign to date.


At three meters in length and to be installed five meters off the ground, the sign was a challenge and a very exciting creative process.


The sign, commissioned by Rushbond PLC would be the entrance sign to New York House on Harper Street in Leeds City Centre.


New York House has several techniques used in the sign that date back to the late 1800s. These techniques are the back bone of the visual creative direction of this three meter sign. Techniques like a v cut lettering panel placed behind the glass.



This panel has been oil gilded with 24c gold from Manetti creating a matt gold finish. - The outline of the lettering on the glass has a mirrored gold finish that is 5mm thick again using 24c gold from Florence.




The block shadows are painted grey and dark grey blending into black on the back of the glass, again in keeping with a 'balcony' v cut panel sign hung in the entrance to The Corn Exchange in Leeds, also owned by the client.



Contacted by Rushbond PLC, Signs by Umberto were asked to make a sign for New York House. New York House, located in the heart of Kirkgate, Leeds’ first street, forms part of a vibrant creative neighbourhood.


Kirkgate, the spine of Leeds, has helped to pioneer the city’s growth, with its First White Cloth Hall, leading the cloth trade, Leeds Corn Exchange pioneering exchange, commerce and independent retail and also – not far just down New York Road, exists the site which bore Leeds First Railway station at Marsh Lane. - This area is rich with creativity and to top it all, just next door to the site of where the sign will be installed was where Mr Marks met Mr Spencer at Dewhirsts drapery suppliers.


The rest is history. - Kirkgate is a place where identities are expressed and creativity is embraced. - I researched a style of lettering that had been both designed in New York as well as from a similar period of time that New York House in Leeds had been built. - In close proximity to New York has is also Manhattan House as well as kirkgate buildings boasting period signs that have been included in the contemporary business due to listing regulations, above businesses like Dominoes Pizza. - So finding a style of lettering from a similar period was high on the agenda and important to me in the visual language of our design developments.

I researched lead and wood type foundries from America in particular, New York and Manhattan. I drew inspiration from the lettering designed by Bruce's New York Type Foundry as well as the double block shadow. The design has then been refined further to fall in line with period signs hanging in The Corn Exchange [Leeds] and Victorian buildings around Yorkshire - Walkers Jewellers in Huddersfield and The Todmorden Co-Operative Society buildings.

The frame is a bespoke mahogany moulding made by Off Set Workshop in Huddersfield who helped me every step of the way with assembly and installation on site.


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Signs by Umberto

Traditional signwriter based between West Yorkshire and Manchester specialising in reverse glass signs and gold leaf application.

All work © of Robert Walker - owner of Signs by Umberto.

Artwork except Knuckle on the pages Record Sleeves and Reading are not the work of Signs by Umberto and are on display only to showcase the inspiration to the sign writing.

All images copyright of Robert Walker 2017