April 2009 - British Optical Association Wall Plaque
You might be surprised at how little we know about this item. In fact we are featuring it in the hope that someone out there may be able to tell us more. It is a plastic plaque bearing a transfer printed representation of the BOA logo, first designed in 1895. Various attempts were made to feature the logo on signs and old photographs of optician's premises sometimes show these. At a time when anyone could set up in business as an 'optician' (the term was not legally protected before the Opticians Act of 1958) responsible practitioners were often anxious to include a visible indication of their status as a qualified professional. Some must have employed local sign writers. Others used ready-made insignia supplied by companies such as James B Sly the London engravers, designers and stationers who not only produced and framed the professional certificates of the BOA, SMC and IOO but also supplied customised letter heads, dry stamps and business cards. The particular plaque illustrated here is undoubtedly twentieth century and was certainly mass-produced as several examples have passed our way in recent years. A few years ago we even tried to buy one on eBAY since, although it bears 'our' logo and must presumably have been officially sanctioned by our predecessor body at some time, we had no example in our museum collection. We are now pleased to announce that a retiring College member from Norwich has donated his father's specimen of this plaque. In order to catalogue it correctly we are thus all the more anxious to establish its date. Our former Secretary, Mr Peter Smith, thinks it pre-dates his involvement with the Association (from the mid 1960s) but the material, possibly perspex, suggests a post-Second World War date. Very similar versions painted on glass were certainly available at least as early as the 1930s (and donations of the same would be very welcome). Who made these and when, what did they cost and how many professionals bought one? Answers, hints and clues would all be received gratefully.