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Monogram

“Lingfield Alarm Supplies”, East Grinstead: local

Lingfield Alarm Supplies Co Ltd "Lingfield Alarm Supplies Co Ltd" burglar alarm, East Grinstead • An attractive building-block monogram for what sounds like a small local company, yet I also found an ancient LAS sounder in Bath once - which is rather a long way from Lingfield on the sleepy Surrey border. Maybe it's one of those DIY jobbies. • Spotted: London Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Sussex Mid
“Lingfield Alarm Supplies”, East Grinstead: local

“GAF Alarms”, Islington: punny

GAF Alarms "GAF Alarms" burglar alarm, Islington • One of my favourites, both for its awkward yet traditional 1920s-style monogram, and the fact that GAF is a sort-of pun on house, though I'm not sure if that's intended.• Spotted: Whitecross Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury
“GAF Alarms”, Islington: punny

“ATA Systems”, Bristol: intricate

ATA Systems Protegimus "ATA Systems Protegimus" burglar alarm, Bristol • Not sure if this is related to yesterday's ATA – the trestle-tabley monogram's quite similar, if somewhat ambiguous as to whether it says AA or ATA. The surrounds, however, are vastly more intricate: a heraldic array of shield, crossed swords, scary cyclops eye, what looks like a maltese cross poking out from behind, and all supported with a scroll bearing the Harry Potteresque declamation "Protegimus" (we protect). Leaving nothing to chance, then. • Spotted: Nova Scotia Place, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2013 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“ATA Systems”, Bristol: intricate

“AT Alarms”, Derby: clunky

AT Alarms "AT Alarms" burglar alarm, Derby • Called AT in the logo, and ATA in the monogram, with neither explained (Alarm Technology, perhaps). I wonder if the  clunky ATA is meant to conjure up the scales of justice? Because it looks more like a trestle table. • Spotted: Town centre, Derby, Derbyshire, DE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Derby South
“AT Alarms”, Derby: clunky

“ASG Security”, Falmouth: sacrilege

ASG Security "ASG Security" burglar alarm, Falmouth • Oh sacrilege. You can just about see, underneath this sticker, the superb original Alarm Service Group design, which I eulogise here. Somebody went and replaced it with this awkward three-letter monogram, which remains unexplained, despite repeating the initials twice. • Spotted: Killigrew Street, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Truro and Falmouth
“ASG Security”, Falmouth: sacrilege

“ADT Security Systems”, Hackney: wonky

ADT Security Systems "ADT Security Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • ADT is so familiar it's easy to overlook the logo, which is actually a rather wonkily-drawn three-letter monogram. Just for a change here's a variation on the famous yellow hexagon, and on its side, too. • Spotted: Shacklewell Lane, Hackney, London, E8, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington
“ADT Security Systems”, Hackney: wonky

“Midnight”, City of Westminster: mosaic

Midnight Integrated Systems "Midnight Integrated Systems" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Another time-monogram crossover: a mosaic of grey squares with gaps spelling out MIS, with a maroon square for the dot on the "I". Stylish but somewhat illegible, it's perhaps meant to suggest windows at night, or winking computer lights. Fortunately they've spelled out the full name below, which I've just noticed also has a tiny maroon dot on the "I". It looks like the designer put a huge amount of effort and thought into this – resulting in one of the most unusual and un-burglar-alarmy sounder designs I've come across. • Spotted: Langham Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Midnight”, City of Westminster: mosaic

“CPM”, Hackney: wordplay

CPM "CPM" burglar alarm, Hackney • Not sure if this rather minimal logo is meant to be a clever play on "post meridiem", as in "see you in the evening", but I shall give it the benefit of the doubt. • Spotted: Curtain Road, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“CPM”, Hackney: wordplay

“Burglarm”, Winchester: eccentric

Burglarm Southampton "Burglarm Southampton" burglar alarm, Winchester • And finally, to see out 2012, one of my all-time favourite monograms, which I have been waiting two long years to feature – the eccentrically-titled Burglarm, whose monogram inexplicably features an S-shaped serpent struggling out of a letter "B". I suppose it stands for Burglarm Southampton, and since it's not a town noted for snake infestations, the slithering fellow must represent a burglar. Anyway, Burglarm are no more: founded in 1968, they were taken over in 2006 by the rather grand Berkeley Guard, who maintain a nice page of Burglarm history here. • Spotted: Town centre, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Winchester
“Burglarm”, Winchester: eccentric

“So Secure”, Greenwich: handbag-worthy

So Secure "So Secure" burglar alarm, Greenwich • I love this beautiful double S monogram, which is so sophisticatedly retro in its black-and-olive curvyness that it wouldn't look out of place on an Orla Kiely handbag. (That's a compliment, chaps.) However, perhaps not the most legible - it wasn't till I found a version with the website on that I realised the green circle meant it said "SoSecure". Until then I'd always read it as "SSecure", putting it in the rather large "SS" logo category (in the Security Services, rather than Nazi sense). Whereas in fact it kind of says SOS. Very clever. • Spotted: Herbert Road, Greenwich, London, SE18, England, 2004 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Greenwich and Woolwich
“So Secure”, Greenwich: handbag-worthy

“Contract Fire Security”, Westminster: extinguisher

Contract Fire Security "Contract Fire Security" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • This is great - the letters CFS wrangled into a fire extinguisher monogram. I wish they'd made it bigger on the sounder, so I've put an enlargement below. I wonder if this is the same Contract Security I featured in the "Shooting" theme last week? It was certainly found in the same area, ie Fitzrovia. • Spotted: Newman Passage, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster Contract Fire Security
“Contract Fire Security”, Westminster: extinguisher

“Town & Country”, Great Missenden: cop clamp

Town & Country "Town & Country" burglar alarm, Great Missenden • This is brilliant – a T and C made out of a clamp, looking like the opening titles for a 1970s cop show. Perhaps not strictly a monogram as it's part of a larger logo, but a top design anyway. The 1983-founded Town & Country's website shows they still boast the T&C clamp on everything from sounders to vans, now in resplendent 3D red. • Spotted: Town centre, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham
“Town & Country”, Great Missenden: cop clamp

“TH White”, Marlborough: vintage brand

TH White "TH White" burglar alarm, Marlborough • In lieu of a white Christmas, here's a White burglar alarm. It bears a classic monogram of the kind popular in the 1920s or even earlier, and the name T.H White has a good old-fashioned ring to it too. So imagine my surprise when, researching this, I discovered that T.H. White Group is a £90m Wiltshire firm with a finger in pies ranging from agriculture to storage, not to mention burglar alarms. They even publish a company magazine! And they were founded in Devizes in 1832, so maybe their logo is even older than it looks. Hmm, this monogram theme is turning up some truly vintage brands. • Spotted: Town centre, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Devizes
“TH White”, Marlborough: vintage brand

“Smiths Security”, Oxford: stripey blazer

Smiths Security Est 1850 "Smiths Security Est 1850" burglar alarm, Oxford • In the US this wouldn't be considered a monogram, as it's only one letter – even though the origin of the word monogram is "monogrammos", Greek for "consisting of a single letter". And generally, I am focusing on two or more letters for my monogram theme. However this triangular letter "S", which takes up as much space as humanly possible on the sounder, is so superb it has to feature. Not only does it resemble a stripey Edwardian blazer, and look like the kind of burglar alarm you'd find Patrick McGoohan tampering with in The Prisoner's creepy Village - it says "Est. 1850"! Can't argue with than. Sadly, Smiths Security now have a far less idiosyncratic design. • Spotted: High Street, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Oxford East
“Smiths Security”, Oxford: stripey blazer

“AAI”, Camden: red triangle

AAI "AAI" burglar alarm, Camden • Today I start the theme "monograms". The UK definition of a monogram is "a design composed of one or more letters, typically the initials of a name" (though in America I think it is defined as at least two letters); and the initials should be specially-drawn, generally entwined in some way. There are so many monogrammed sounders I can't show them all in one run - it would go on for months - so I've decided to start with nine of my favourites, taking us up to the end of the year. Honourary pole position must go to Hertfordshire-based AAI, whose boss Andy Gilmore is a regular commenter on this blog. I always reckoned the AAI monogram had been designed to fill up as much of the sounder as possible, which he confirms: "Our logo was designed by my [business] partner's daughter-in-law, who was studying art. When designing the logo, we wanted something which was clear and obvious even from a distance." Apparently it was inspired by the Nu-Tron design, another of my favourites, and AAI base all their company's branding round their logo's triangle – never changing the shape of the bell box, even when switching manufacturer. And though AAI, like most monograms, also falls into the "unexplained acronym" camp, Andy Gilmore confides that the initials were based on Andy, Adam, Ian - the latter pair his first (brief) business partners, when he was just 14. What a great story! • Spotted: Percy Street, Camden, London, W1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“AAI”, Camden: red triangle

“Avenue Alarms”, Winchester: tree-lined

"Avenue Alarms AAL" burglar alarm, Winchester • An avenue is a road lined with trees, but this was found stuck sideways on a mouldy wall – see below for its actual orientation. AAL stands for Avenue Alarms Limited, I'd guess. It looks like their label is stuck over another firm's sounder, but I can't discern which. • Spotted: Town centre, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Winchester Above: how the sounder was mounted. Below: an avenue
“Avenue Alarms”, Winchester: tree-lined

“Broadsword”, Hackney: burglar-slicer

"Broadsword" burglar alarm, Hackney • According to their website, Broadsword were formed in 1985 - and this sounder doesn't look much younger. A broadsword is a heavy military sword, all the better for slicing up burglars. Wikipedia reckons they have "basket handles" (ie the kind that cover your hand), though the one illustrated here doesn't. • Spotted: Paul Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Broadsword”, Hackney: burglar-slicer

“Guardwell Ltd”, Camden: self-explanatory

"Guardwell Ltd" burglar alarm, Camden • A name that falls into the "does what it says on the can" category – I doubt there are any firms called Guardbad. Note also the nice retrofuturist "GW" monogram, suggesting a waveform in a circle. One from a motherlode I found in the Kilburn High Road several years ago – if I ever run out of burglar alarms all I have to do is pay another visit, as there must be enough dodgy old bell boxes above the shops there to last at least another year. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
“Guardwell Ltd”, Camden: self-explanatory

“Assure”, Glasgow: foot guard

"Assure" burglar alarm, Glasgow • The correct name for these guys is Royal Foot Guards, and the Her Maj has four in front of Buck House whenever she's in residence (two when she's not). This one's lurking in a non-standard sentry box roofed with Assure's "AA" logo. Has anyone informed the Palace? • Spotted: Merchant City area, Glasgow, Lanarkshire, G1, Scotland, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Glasgow Central
“Assure”, Glasgow: foot guard

“Ace Security”, Islington: 1970s non-disco

"Ace Security" burglar alarm, Islington • A 1970s disco logo for a 1970s non-disco group: Ace, a bunch of hairy be-flared musos notable mainly for the very successful single "How Long", which was top 20 in both the UK and the USA in 1974-5. • Spotted: Aylesbury Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Ace the one-hit-wonder group
“Ace Security”, Islington: 1970s non-disco

“CG Computa Guard”, Bolton: green and gritty

"CG Computa Guard" burglar alarm, Bolton • Let me count the ways I love this. It suggests it's guarded by a computer. It's spelled groovily. It's green, which is unusual. It's square, and I like squares. It's got a really basic monogram, and I like those too. It's vintage. It's from Bolton, which sounds all gritty and Northern. It was on an escarpment of grandly decaying windswept buildings, in true gritty Northern fashion. It's rusty. And it's got a shield on. A total winner. • Spotted: St Georges Road, Bolton, Lancashire, BL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bolton North East
“CG Computa Guard”, Bolton: green and gritty

“Security Installation Services”, Camden: birotastic

"Security Installation Services Ltd" burglar alarm, Camden • Uuuuh? This looks like it was traced in biro off a US police badge. And the thing in the middle looks like a candle. Maybe it's meant to suggest the SAS, but to me it conjures up the schoolroom. • Spotted: Parkway, Camden, London, NW1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Security Installation Services”, Camden: birotastic

“Shivon”, Westminster: head-turner

"Shivon Security Systems" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • I wonder if this is pronounced like Siobhán? I'd never heard of this word but it does come up as a name on Google, usually for young women. According to the not-very-reliable online Urban Dictionary, Shivon means "a girl who can turn the head of any man" – a definition which I am sure this firm was not named after. Nice shield, anyway – three letter S shapes, geddit? • Spotted: Wellington Street, City of Westminster, London, WC2, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Shivon”, Westminster: head-turner

“TES Security”, Bolton: named twice

"TES Security" burglar alarm, Bolton • This is quite strange, when you deconstruct it: a portcullis with a jaunty 1960s-style monogram in the middle, with a completely different logo suspended from it by chains, perhaps because the top one isn't very legible. The one above looks a bit like a bike and suggests a balancing act, while the one below is in a font beloved of 1970s sci-fi TV shows. So, a retro-futuristic design with a superannuated phone number – but no indication of what the initials stand for, or where a portcullis might fit into the grand scheme of things. • Spotted: Marsden Road, Bolton, Lancashire, BL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bolton North East
“TES Security”, Bolton: named twice

“Viscount Alarms”, St Albans: non-egalitarian balls

"Viscount Alarms" burglar alarm, St Albans • Of Norman origin, like all Britain's aristocratic titles, a viscount is a middle-ranking sort of peer, below an earl but above a baron. Resplendent in a coronet bearing 16 balls (see below), such a personage should be addressed as "Lord", if you're feling deferential. The more egalitarian Anglo-Saxon equivalent was the "shire reeve" or sheriff, which would be a good title for a burglar alarm in my opinion. But I have never come across any Sheriff Alarms, perhaps because of the word's unfortunate cowboy connotations. According to the comments below this Xtal alarm, Viscount were a well-run business who used to do the alarms for Shell petrol stations and Robert Dyas, but were brought to an untimely end by the failure of their parent company. • Spotted: Town centre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of St Albans [caption id="attachment_12231" align="alignnone" width="472"] A viscount's coronet with its 16 non-egalitarian balls[/caption]
“Viscount Alarms”, St Albans: non-egalitarian balls

“Swift Security Systems”, Southwark: 1970s band

"Swift Security Systems" burglar alarm, Southwark • This looks like the logo for a 1970s band, as doodled on the back of a schoolbook. It's positively leaning forward with swiftness, and the enclosing "S" is keeping everything safe. I can't find an extant firm called specifically Swift Security Systems, however, so its provenance remains a mystery. • Spotted: Borough High Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Swift Security Systems”, Southwark: 1970s band

“CalQuick”, Southwark: grungy nut

"CalQuick Security Systems" burglar alarm, Southwark • Found in a crumbly Peckham arcade, this grungy old sounder features a splendid technical drawing-style monogram which resembles a wrench turning a nut. Unlike yesterday's firm, they managed to spell the word "Quick" right – then lost the plot with "Call".• Spotted: Station Way, Southwark, London, SE15, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Camberwell and Peckham
“CalQuick”, Southwark: grungy nut

“Anglia Property Guards”, Norwich: not Alan Partridge

"Anglia Property Guards" burglar alarm, Norwich • Strictly speaking this monogram reads AGP, rather than APG, although the G is pretty indecipherable. It's just as well they spelled the whole name out, or I might have thought it was a reference to Norwich's finest export, Alan Partridge, aha. It's such a vintage alarm I wasn't expecting the firm to exist any more, but they're still going strong – you can see their current sounder and more legible logo here. Coincidentally they're based in a place called Banham, which is of course the name of another long-lived burglar alarm firm. • Spotted: Town centre, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Norwich South
“Anglia Property Guards”, Norwich: not Alan Partridge

“Wychwood Security”, Cirencester: ex-wood

"Wychwood Security" burglar alarm, Cirencester • Spookily-named Wychwood, which sounds like something out of Harry Potter, was once a royal hunting forest covering much of West Oxfordshire. It was also once an Oxfordshire security firm, but Wychwood Security Services is nowadays part of Advance Vision Group, aka AVG, a 1989-founded firm whose sounders I'm not currently familiar with. As for Wychwood, their WSS monogram was a bit more fancy than Woodland Security Systems’, but it still majors on an ill-advised "SS”. • Spotted: Town centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cotswolds
“Wychwood Security”, Cirencester: ex-wood

“Woodlands”, Westminster: ancient wood

"Woodlands Security Systems Ltd" burglar alarm, City of Westminster • Another bosky firm, Kent-based Woodlands was dissolved in 2005, the year I photographed their sounder (there's a red light at the far right, so it must be still working). Their HQ was in Erith, near to ancient Oxleas Wood and the 89 acre Woodlands Farm (a charitable trust open to all) – which is possibly the source of their name. However their WSS monogram logo isn't very clear, leading the sounder to suggest it belongs to an organisation called "SS" – never a very good look. • Spotted: Oxford Street, City of Westminster, London, W1, England, 2005 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Cities of London and Westminster
“Woodlands”, Westminster: ancient wood

“Acorn Security Alarms”, Bristol: nutty bird

"Acorn Security Alarms" burglar alarm, Bristol • This Acorn was slightly easier to track down than yesterday's, but seems just as defunct. Originally a Gloucestershire firm, its URL www.acornsecurityalarms.co.uk now redirects to Swift Fire & Security, a national company founded in 1982 – which I haven't featured yet, despite it falling within the "arbitrary birds" category. So maybe the swift is a bird that eats nuts. • Spotted: Broad Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West
“Acorn Security Alarms”, Bristol: nutty bird

“Cox Security”, Beckenham: apple in Bowieland

"Cox Security" burglar alarm, Beckenham • Cox - it's an apple, geddit? To me, the logo also looks like a staring eye, which would make it a pun on "the apple of my eye" and thus also qualify it for the "vision" and "monograms" categories. I found a couple of Cox security firms on the internet: Cox Security Solutions Ltd near Milton Keynes, and the wonderfully-named CoxLocks in the Surrey area, which is nearer to Beckenham (which, pathetically, I always associate with David Bowie in his dress-wearing days). But neither has this logo, so it may be some completely different firm. • Spotted: High Street, Beckenham, Kent, BR3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Beckenham [caption id="attachment_11506" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="Left, David Bowie in Beckenham (and a dress); right, a cox apple"][/caption]
“Cox Security”, Beckenham: apple in Bowieland

“Briar”, Cambridge: thorny proposition

"Briar" burglar alarm, Cambridge • Ah, Briar with its bonkers B logo – one of my favourites, here featured in its correct botanic context. Though as I've noted before, a rose or some thorns would be a more appropriate logo for this 1983-established Cambridge firm. • Spotted: Hills Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Briar”, Cambridge: thorny proposition

“SYS”, Islington: deep pocket

"SYS" burglar alarm, Islington • An even deeper pocket than yesterday, decorated with a not-very-attractive unexplained acronym logo that's presumably meant to suggest "system". The firm's uninformative website is here and the actual sounder can be found here – this example is the only one I've come across in the flesh, so to speak. The logo is a reflected palindrome in the manner of Abba, ie it reads the same in both directions and is also physically reflected down the middle. Bizarrely, I do have an Abba alarm, which I shall post one day. • Spotted: Tollington Park, Islington, London, N4, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington North
“SYS”, Islington: deep pocket

“Bates Alarms”, Southwark: pocket psycho

"Bates Alarms" burglar alarm, Southwark • If yesterday's Friedland was a pouch, this is a jeans back pocket. I've found it billed as an obsolete Euro-Siren so I assume it's not proprietary, though it's a shape I've only seen used by Bates Alarms. Established in 1965, they describe themselves as London's oldest independent electronic security company; their awkward "ba" logo, which possibly dates from that era, also earns them a spot in the "naive monogram" category. It's a bit pathetic, but I always think of Norman Bates from Psycho when I spot one – not the most reassuring of associations. • Spotted: Webber Street, Southwark, London, SE1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bermondsey and Old Southwark
“Bates Alarms”, Southwark: pocket psycho

“Crown Security”, Camden: monarch of the waves

"Crown Security" burglar alarm, Camden • In typical burglar alarm fashion, this acronym has one more letter than the firm's name; and CSS could stand for many other things, from the USA's Central Security Service, to Catholic holy order the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata, to Cascading Style Sheets, formatting language of the web. However from the 081 phone number I deduce that this is an earlier incarnation of yesterday's firm, although the logo is completely different. You still see a lot of bell boxes around with this chunky 1970s-style livery, whose design probably dates from the firm's founding in 1982. Although not that great – it looks like CSS is floating in a black sea, monarch of the waves – it's a lot more recognisable than its bland successor, so for brand continuity they should perhaps have evolved it rather than going for a total reboot. • Spotted: Torrington Square, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Crown Security”, Camden: monarch of the waves

“Golden Security Systems”, Brent: dull but gilded

"Golden Security Systems" burglar alarm, Brent • After 318 entries, my first burglar alarm from the borough of Brent – which shows I don't often venture into deepest North London. Gold is an appropriate element for the Totteridge & Whetstone area, home to some of London's most expensive property – although given that Whetstone looks to me no more attractive than Streatham, just a typical dull and dusty, traffic-snarled suburb, Totteridge is clearly the more gilded end. This golden oldie is affixed to Whetstone's small and snorey parish church, St John The Apostle (below), and incorporates a naive monogram with what I take to be sound waves, thus cramming three classic security themes onto one superannuated bell box. • Spotted: St John the Apostle Church, High Street, Whetstone, Brent, London, N20, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chipping Barnet
“Golden Security Systems”, Brent: dull but gilded

“Intelligent Security Installations”, Eton: untutored

"Intelligent Security Installations" burglar alarm, Eton • Despite the lack of pupils, I reckon those are peepers dotting the "i"s with their blank-eyed stare, although the design – unlike pupils at nearby Eton – is most kindly described as "untutored". Just as well they spell out the firm's name underneath, or the meaning would remain totally obscure. • Spotted: High Street, Eton, Berkshire, SL4, England, 2009 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Windsor
“Intelligent Security Installations”, Eton: untutored

“Crism”, Sheffield: concrete poetry

"Crism" burglar alarm, Sheffield • A piece of concrete poetry, no less. I haven't got a subscription to the OED (never thought a burglar alarm blog would necessitate one), so can't check if it's a real word – but I suspect it isn't. And even if it was, in Scrabble it would only get you a weedy 9 points. To continue the poetry theme, the only rhymes are "prism" (from which it is doubtless derived) and "schism", so it's probably pronounced "Krizzum", though I'm not stalkerish enough to ring them and see how they say it when they answer the phone. I guessed it was a firm run by someone called Chris M, and checking their website find this is indeed the case. Which would surely be "ChrisM" (note the upper-case M, and being one letter away from "Christ"), but perhaps that's a bit too avant-garde, even for Sheffield. • Spotted: Campo Lane, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“Crism”, Sheffield: concrete poetry

“Alarm Systems Torquay”, Bath: hydrant sign

"Alarm Systems Torquay" burglar alarm, Bath • This looks like the miniaturised eye from yesterday's odd alarm, staring out from one of those yellow H signs signifying a fire hydrant (see below). It could be a black magic symbol, but it's more likely to be a monogram – saying H, OH, HI or even OHI – but with a sounder this old there's no info to be found. • Spotted: George Street, Bath, Avon, BA1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bath Above: a fire hydrant sign (photo by Bishty)
“Alarm Systems Torquay”, Bath: hydrant sign

“Colt”, Hackney: brutal subtext

"Colt Alarm Systems" burglar alarm, Hackney • OK, so I've already featured a Colt, but it was shrouded in pigeon netting; this one's simply blurred. The fact that the term Colt is associated with handguns as well as young male horses is probably no coincidence, which means this also falls into the rare "shooting" category. The device's brutal subtext makes a nice contrast with the girly puce paint, which was on a groovy Shoreditch boutique. • Spotted: Goldsmiths Row, Hackney, London, E2, England, 2006 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch Above: real colts
“Colt”, Hackney: brutal subtext

“APE”, Bristol: hairy hominid plus cheeky fly

"APE Fire & Security" burglar alarm, Bristol • Starting today: a bonkers burglar alarm bestiary. Animals are one of the most popular themes for security firms' logos, and they're not always fierce, with at least 50 per cent ranging from from cuddly to crazy. I'll be posting, in alphabetical order, all the creatures I've found so far, excluding birds and dogs, which are so numerous they get their own categories. Thus I start with Ape (plus cheeky house fly), which combines several top security tropes in one minimalistic design: soundwaves, naive monogram, unexplained acronym, and an unfortunate connotation, as presumably it's not really meant to suggest a large hairy hominid. Given the soundwaves I'd guess it stands for something techy like Audio Protection Enterprises, and the pre-dtp logo suggests it's a long-standing firm. (Googles Ape Fire & Security). Yes, this firm is the first thing that turns up, established 1977 and still going strong with an up-to-date website. But as to what Ape – or as their blurb has it, A.P.E. – stands for, there is no mention.• Spotted: St Nicholas Street, Bristol, Avon, BS1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of Bristol West Above: a real ape (Photo by Matthias Trautsch)
“APE”, Bristol: hairy hominid plus cheeky fly

“Lockrite Security”, Aylesbury: 1970s mom

"Lockrite Security" burglar alarm, Aylesbury • This was found in Aylesbury, which seemed to me a shabby, sullen and faintly menacing place, despite being the county town of posh Berkshire. A brief Google search on crap towns shows that I am not alone in this assessment, but luckily crap towns are prime hunting grounds for old burglar alarms. The naive monogram on this one looks like the fabric design from a cheap 1970s A-line crimplene skirt, which ironically makes it the height of fashion, as the hideous-sounding "1970s mom" look is very modish right now. In fact everything about this alarm cries out "1970s mom", from the naff name to the cheesy font. Which is why I rather like it. • Spotted: Cambridge Street, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP20, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Aylesbury
“Lockrite Security”, Aylesbury: 1970s mom

“Briar”, Cambridge: bonkers but brilliant

"Briar" burglar alarm, Cambridge • Here's a newer version of yesterday's brilliantly bonkers Briar Alarm logo, with the two padlocks joined to make a more convincing B, less keyholey keyholes, and some superfluous streamlines around the edge. The words "Cambridge" and "alarm" have also disappeared, presumably – as discussed in other recent posts – due to the concepts of local offices and humble burglar alarms being considered outmoded by today's high-tech security practitioners (though customers may feel differently). It's still a classic, and as I commented in my essay on silver alarms, this super-shiny box makes even such a patently absurd monogram look stylish. • Spotted: Regent Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Briar”, Cambridge: bonkers but brilliant

“Briar Alarm”, Cambridge: bondage Abba

"Briar Alarm Cambridge" burglar alarm, Cambridge • Bonkers but brilliant: two sideways padlocks making an Abba-esque reflected B. The B stands for Briar, which suggests roses rather than bondage accessories, and could therefore more appropriately have been represented by a thorny B, evoking barbed wire as well as spiky stems. But that wouldn't have been as much fun as this surreal slice of locksmithery. • Spotted: Hills Road, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Liberal Democrat constituency of South Cambridgeshire
“Briar Alarm”, Cambridge: bondage Abba

“Chiswick Security”, Hackney: hackneyed device

"Chiswick Security" burglar alarm, Hackney • Another key with an initial in its handle, though much cruder than yesterday's elegant example. The zig-zag notches on its blade suggest that, like the other keys featured so far, it is for opening a pin-tumbler cylinder lock, typical of house front doors. Inspired by 4,000-year-old wooden devices from ancient Egypt, the definitive cylinder lock was patented by Linus Yale Junior in 1861 and remains little changed to this day – a design even older than this alarm. • Spotted: Clifton Street, Hackney, London, EC2, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hackney South and Shoreditch
“Chiswick Security”, Hackney: hackneyed device

“Radam”, Tower Hamlets: genteel locksmithery

"Radam Security Systems" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This vintage alarm, found near Petticoat Lane market, is my favourite key example. Although presumably dating from the 1960s, the lettered key has a pre-war look, evoking a genteel age of locksmithery – you can almost imagine a butler answering the alarm bell. There's attention to detail, too: the grooves on the shaft are streamlined into the design, and the notches on the blade echo the "am" of "Radam" – which sounds like a completely made-up name. • Spotted: Goulston Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow
“Radam”, Tower Hamlets: genteel locksmithery

“SDT Securities”, Dorking: awkward acronym

"SDT Securities" burglar alarm, Dorking • Another alarm featuring a literal depiction of a key, this time with an awkward unexplained acronym squeezed in. I like the way the screw caps are popping off and casting their own little shadows – they look like tiny alien eyes. I featured a wide-angle shot of this device in the "Beautiful Decay" category – it's on a wire-swathed wall that's even more olde worlde than the alarm. But that's Dorking for you. • Spotted: Town centre, Dorking, Surrey, RH4, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Mole Valley
“SDT Securities”, Dorking: awkward acronym

“Argus”, Lewisham: a hundred-eyed giant

"Argus Fire & Security Group" burglar alarm, Lewisham • If the reflected double "a" in this Argus logo is meant to look like two eyes, then it's 98 short of the legend. Argus is a popular name in Greek mythology, but being a security device, this is surely inspired by the super-watchman Argus Panoptes, an ever-wakeful hundred-eyed giant whose name means "Argus the All-Seeing". Argus was a servant of Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus – who, as king of the gods, had more nymphs on the side than a premiership footballer. According to Ovid's Metamorphoses (c.8 AD), the politically-incorrect Zeus disguised one unfortunate floozy, Io, as a cow, but suspicious Hera demanded the beast as a gift and set Argus to guard it. Zeus sent his messenger Hermes to rescue Io, which he managed by telling Argus such boring stories that all his eyes fell asleep at once (I know the feeling), and then beheading him. The giant may have perished, but his hundred eyes lived on in the tail of the peacock, where Hera put them to honour his memory. I haven't yet found a peacock pictured on a burglar alarm, but there are plenty decorated with eyes; though most, like that other watchful giant Cyclops, sport only one. As will be demonstrated in a later theme... • Spotted: Lewisham High Street, Lewisham, London, SE13, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Lewisham Deptford Above: BC and AD versions of Hermes about to kill Argus and rescue the nymph Io, cunningly disguised as a heifer. Top: pictured millennia before burglar alarms, on an Attic vase (c.500 BC) from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna – love the way he's grabbing that beard. Bottom: as imagined more serenely over 1000 years later in Diego Velázquez's "Fábula de Mercurio y Argos"  aka "The Story of Mercury and Argus" (1659), from the magnificent Prado, Madrid.
“Argus”, Lewisham: a hundred-eyed giant

“Mercury Security Systems”, Islington: god of thieves

"Mercury Security Systems" burglar alarm, Islington • This boring design gives no clue whether its name refers to the planet, the element, the crap Queen singer or the myth. Seeing as the myth came first, I shall include this alarm within the mythology section. Mercury was the Roman version of Hermes, messenger of the Greek gods, famed for his winged sandals and helmet, and a snake-entwined staff called a caduceus. The Romans equated him mainly with travel and commerce, and his image can be found adorning stations and shopping centres to this day. A notably slippery character, with traits which would have taken him far in diplomacy or journalism, Mercury combined patronage of noble things such as music, wit, sport and invention with a reputation for cunning and trickery. Which is perhaps how a god strongly associated with thieves and boundaries – described in an ancient Greek hymn as "a watcher by night, a thief at the gates" – has wangled his way onto a burglar alarm. • Spotted: Whitecross Street, Islington, London, EC1, England, 2008 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Islington South and Finsbury Above: Mercury in Manhattan, still representing trade and travel today. Left: "Winged Mercury" (1933), a carving by Lee Lawrie on the ex-British Empire Building at the Rockerfeller Centre. Right: "Glory of Commerce" (1911-14) by Jules-Alexis Coutain, aka the famous Mercury clock at Grand Central Terminal. There's more about it on Which Yet Survive, a great but short-lived blog about New York statuary.
“Mercury Security Systems”, Islington: god of thieves

“Orion Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: myth meets Pac-Man

"Orion Alarms" burglar alarm, Tower Hamlets • This naive but multi-layered design recalls two mythical figures: Orion and Pac-Man. Ostensibly a monogram comprising an O and an A, it's probably meant to represent a pyramid in a circular night sky with a crescent moon overhead. Apart from the night sky, it's hard to see how this connects with the Greek hero Orion, a giant hunter blinded for raping a princess, healed by the sun, then killed by a scorpion and turned into a constellation by Zeus. There are few reliable descriptions of Orion, but we know he wasn't a big black blob. However, the design also looks disturbingly like a Pac-Man with a winking eye, chomping his way down the alarm. Developed in Japan in 1979 and originally called Pakkuman, it's fair to say that the genre-launching yellow-and-black ghost-munching video game has achieved legendary status. The name is based on paku-paku, Japanese slang for lip-smacking eating (equivalent to "nom-nom-nom"), and the fact that the avatar looks like a part-eaten pizza is no coincidence, because according to its inventor Tōru Iwatani, that's what it's based on. This is the second Pac-Man-like alarm I've featured: the first was JB-Eye, and no doubt the game was a formative entertainment for both designers. • Spotted: Fairfield Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow Above: Orion v Pac-Man. Left: Orion and his constellation by astronomer Johannes Hevelius from his celestial catalogue "Uranographia" (1690). Right: fashionably geek Pac-Man t-shirt available from Worm Sign designs.
“Orion Alarms”, Tower Hamlets: myth meets Pac-Man

“Windsor Alarms”, Camden: fan-shaped finial

"Windsor Alarms" burglar alarm, Camden • A lovely fan-shaped finial which is worthy, like the adjacent alarm, of genteel Windsor – but was actually found in hardscrabble Kilburn High Road, which despite its grinding traffic and endless parade of plasticky budget shopfronts is full of architectural wonders if you look upwards. • Spotted: Kilburn High Road, Camden, London, NW6, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn
“Windsor Alarms”, Camden: fan-shaped finial

“Ace”, Lewisham: fit for a fighter pilot’s bomber jacket

"Ace" burglar alarm, Lewisham • I've just featured a couple of Spitfire alarms, so what better to follow than an Ace. There are loads of Ace alarms around, which – judging by their wide variety of surface graphics – emanate from more than one company. This is one of the oldest I've come across, and seems ideal to represent a WWII flying ace: worn and sunbleached, its naive hand-drawn roundel looks plucked straight from the side of a fighter plane or a pilot's battered leather bomber jacket. If you'd rather see some real WWII fighter aces, Wikipedia has an impressive illustrated list covering all nationalities. The Axis aces – especially the Germans – have way higher scores than their Allied counterparts; apparently they tended to continue flying missions until killed, whereas successful Allied pilots got rotated to other positions. However it's an area so clouded by propaganda that there doesn't even seem to be a hard and fast number of "kills" required to become an ace, and different countries use different counting systems. My favourite factoid is that the Soviets had the world's only female WWII fighter pilot aces: Katya Budanova and Lydia Litvyak, with around 11 and 12 victories respectively. Up the girls! • Spotted: New Cross Road, Lewisham, London, SE14, England, 2002 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Lewisham Deptford
“Ace”, Lewisham: fit for a fighter pilot’s bomber jacket

“Town & Country”, Great Missenden: leafy glade

"Town & Country" burglar alarm, Great Missenden • A natural niche rather than an architectural one, this swathe of leaves is protecting an aptly-named Town & Country alarm (which has an excellent clamp-based logo that I'll feature in more depth another time). I found it in the chi-chi Chilterns town of Great Missenden, long-time home of author Roald Dahl, who now lies buried in the church graveyard (he's dead, obviously). • Spotted: Town centre, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, HP16, England, 2007 • Politics: In the Conservative constituency of Chesham and Amersham
“Town & Country”, Great Missenden: leafy glade

“Smart Alarms”, Sheffield: cute little critter

"Smart Alarms" burglar alarm, Sheffield • Sheffield's a quirky place, and this is a quirky design. I think it's meant to represent a circular bell of the type actually used in alarms, rather than the church bells normally portrayed – but it's more reminiscent of a cheerful children's character than a security firm's logo. To me, it looks like a cute little critter with a big round eye hugging and licking the letter A, whose rounded Avant Garde-style typeface only compounds the impression of a CBeebies logo. Who knows, perhaps that's what the designer intended – any place that can produce both Pulp and The Human League has got to be conversant with whimsical weirdness. • Spotted: Alma Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central
“Smart Alarms”, Sheffield: cute little critter

“Bulldog Alarms”, Sheffield: naive triangular teeth

"Bulldog Alarms" burglar alarm, Sheffield, 2010"Bulldog Alarms" burglar alarm, Sheffield, 2010 • I found this above a boarded-up kebab shop on Wicker, a dreary strip of fast food joints surreally terminated by an immense Piranesian viaduct. The road is situated by a bend in the River Don, and its unusual name may derive from wick, meaning angle. This nicely echoes the angular Bulldog Alarms logo, a naive yet artful monogram whose jagged triangles form a rhythmic pattern which conjures up both houndstooth check and early 20th century geometric abstract art (both possibly unintentionally). It has exactly the same casing as the preceding entry, Kudos, and the outdated phone code and accretion of guano suggest it is of the same pre-1995 vintage. In fact, it could be even older: judging by the yellow-and-black Street Sounds records-style colourway and constructivist bent, its logo was designed in the mid to late 1980s. • Spotted: Wicker, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S3, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Sheffield Central "Bulldog Alarms" burglar alarm, Sheffield, 2010
“Bulldog Alarms”, Sheffield: naive triangular teeth