San Francisco is unique for American cities in that much of our architecture dates from the Victorian era. While most think of gingerbread houses coloring the hills, it also means that we have little unique spaces for signage. One of these spaces for signage was a transom glass or fan light glass that is above many doors and entryways. While some of these opened to allow for a breeze, most were fixed into place.
Typically these transoms were adorned with gold leaf numbers and addresses, yet some shop owners would decorate the glass with their names. Gold lettering is a perfect choice for a fan light as it is rather impervious to wear and shines brilliantly when reflected against the sky.
Since the name of the business is on the transom, the address number was gilded on the bottom of the door with 12 karat white gold leaf. The more muted tones of the white gold signage allow it to be both visible and subtle as it has a mirror finish.
A process photo of a gold leaf sign being gilded.