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“Samaritan”, Camden: unholy rip-off

“Samaritan” burglar alarm, Camden • We all know Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan, who crossed the road to help a wounded stranger. It’s an odd reference for a burglar alarm, as are The Samaritans, those nice people you phone up when feeling suicidal. But more interesting to the graphics geek in me is that this attractive modernist S logo is a rip-off of the seminal trademark for British Steel (below), before they stupidly changed their name to Corus. It was by top British designer David Gentleman, whose weirdly obscure mural at Charing Cross tube station annoys me every time I go past it. His British Steel S may in turn have been “inspired” by the eerily similar earlier Security Pacific Bank logo (below) by legendary art director Saul Bass, behind of some of the world’s most famous logos and film titles, from Kleenex to The Man with the Golden Arm. He also claimed responsibility for directing the shower scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho; so, given the security and nightmare intruder references, maybe this Saul Bass “tribute” has some relevance after all. • Spotted: Museum Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras

Left: Rembrandt’s “The Good Samaritan” (1630) from the Wallace Collection in London. Right: a 1960s S logos by David Gentleman, above, and an earlier one by Saul Bass, below.

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