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Banham, Camden, 2012

“Banham” burglar alarm, Camden • I’ve published lots of white Banham alarms, but here’s the first black one, complete with Dickensian villain. • Spotted: Rugby Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • […]
Banham, Camden, 2012

FSE, Camden: smiley

FSE "FSE" burglar alarm, Camden • I love this. Who knows what it stands for, but it resembles a fat clownish smiley face, using a classic 1970s "go-faster stripes" font Stop, by Aldo Novarese. In fact this sounder was probably designed in the rave-tastic 1990s, when such "go-faster" styles came back into vogue; there's a learned article about it here• Spotted: Gordon Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
FSE, Camden: smiley

CAS Security, Camden: precursor

CAS Security "CAS Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Here's an earlier CAS from 071 phone code days – assuming this triangle is a precursor to yesterday's weird logo, maybe that was just a wonky triangle. • Spotted: Kings Cross Road, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
CAS Security, Camden: precursor

Eagle Security, Camden: clawing

Eagle GtRussellSt WC1 nr WC1B 3LS 0039_800 "Eagle Security" burglar alarm, Camden • And now we move onto the fierce, hawkish birds so popular in urban areas. This one's a mite heraldic, but it also looks like it might claw you to death. Not, I have to say, the finest rendition of an eagle I have ever seen. • Spotted: Great Russell Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
Eagle Security, Camden: clawing

Amiga, Camden: picobyte

Amiga "Amiga" burglar alarm, Camden • Ancient home computer  alert – I seem to remember Amigas were popular with musicians in the early 1990s, because you could create a whole album using about one picobyte of memory. Thus adding relevance to the weird spotlight logo, which is probably meant to look like it's shining on burglars. • Spotted: Tavistock Place, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
Amiga, Camden: picobyte

Abacus Integrated Systems, Camden: iterations

Abacus Integrated Systems Ltd "Abacus Integrated Systems Ltd" burglar alarm, Camden • Abacus seem to have had about a million different designs and logos, most of which I found studded all over a building in Kings Cross which has just been knocked down. This one looked like the most recent iteration – quite a change from the naive abacus A of yesterday. • Spotted: Britannia Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
Abacus Integrated Systems, Camden: iterations

“Alarms 4 Scaffolding”, Camden: unlucky for some

Alarms 4 Scaffolding "Alarms 4 Scaffolding" burglar alarm, Camden • Can security firms only count up to four? This is the third to feature the number – which is considered extremely unlucky in China, where it signifies death. And it's the death of this numbers theme, because there's a new one tomorrow. • Spotted: Coptic Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Alarms 4 Scaffolding”, Camden: unlucky for some

“Senator Security”, Camden: enduring title

"Senator Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Passing from ancient Rome to modern America, Senator is the most enduring political title of all time. Perhaps that's why this burglar alarm is marked, unusually, with a rather fierce-looking cross – to indicate a vote of confidence. • Spotted: Verulam Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Senator Security”, Camden: enduring title

“Cromwell Security”, Camden: headless dictator

"Cromwell Security" burglar alarm, Camden • As a UK bigwig, Cromwell was one of a republican kind, dispensing briefly with the monarchy and ruling as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658. Of course, royalty swiftly returned – rather successfully, as we are seeing this weekend – and, though he had died peacefully, three years later parliament had Cromwell dug up and beheaded. Since then the warty head led a colourful life of its own, being sold on from chancer to chancer, finally ending up buried in the grounds of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where Ollie had studied. All of which makes Cromwell a rather odd subject for a burglar alarm; but, despite being essentially a military dictator, he still ranks high in popularity polls of historical Britons. There's even a steam train named after him! • Spotted: Millman Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras [caption id="attachment_12250" align="alignnone" width="472"] What Oliver Cromwell really looked like (painting by Samuel Cooper)[/caption]
“Cromwell Security”, Camden: headless dictator

“Arlescourt Security”, Camden: hand of glory

"Arlescourt Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Severed hands are a popular image on burglar alarms, and quite apart from reminding thieves what appendage they might lose under sharia law, it's an ancient symbol with many connotations. The heraldic hand on this fine vintage sounder is grimly gripping a key in the manner of the Lady of the Lake brandishing Excalibur from her watery depths. It recalls the folkloric "Hand of Glory" – the dried and pickled mitt of a hanged felon, believed in medieval Europe to have the power to unlock any door it came across. There are grisly if contested examples in Whitby and Walsall museums, and a couple of mentions in Harry Potter. It's all most appropriate for a firm whose name sounds like something straight out of Camelot. • Spotted: New Oxford Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras [caption id="attachment_11694" align="alignnone" width="472" caption="Hands of Glory: left, a medieval version, and right, Whitby Museum's example"][/caption]
“Arlescourt Security”, Camden: hand of glory

“Cactus Security”, Camden: piercing spikes

"Cactus Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Kent-based Cactus Security specialise in construction sites, so you see a lot of their alarms on scaffolded buidings. The message is clear: you really wouldn't want to scale a structure bristling with piercing spikes. And maybe there's a nod to the wild west in their logo, too... not that I'm suggesting the building industry is inhabited by cowboys. • Spotted: Southampton Place, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Cactus Security”, Camden: piercing spikes

“Arrow Security”, Camden: weapon in flight

"Arrow Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Now we move from purely symbolic direction arrows to the depiction of an actual weapon – one being fired at a burglar here, judging by the "flight" marks. Although I've seen a few of its sounders around and they look quite recent, I can't find any trace of Arrow Security as a going concern on the internet – maybe it was this firm (random business directory ahoy) based in Camberley, Surrey. • Spotted: Kings Cross Road, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Arrow Security”, Camden: weapon in flight

“Minerva Integrated Security”, Camden: tasteful square

"Minerva Integrated Security Services Ltd" burglar alarm, Camden • This is a very recent square design, so tasteful it resembles a Bang & Olufson speaker. At one point I thought such squares were going to take over the entire burglar alarm world, which would have been a bit dull; but they seem to have had their day already, and while not exactly rare, aren't a common sight either. I don't know if this firm is any relation to the venerable AFA Minerva of old – presumably not, as their website says they were formed in 2005. I can't work out what the jittery circular logo is meant to suggest, if anything – certainly not the Roman goddess the firm takes its name from. • Spotted: Great Russell Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Minerva Integrated Security”, Camden: tasteful square

“Nu-Tron”, Camden: on the old-tron Scala Cinema

"Nu-Tron Security Ltd" burglar alarm, Camden • Like yesterday's rare round-topped Nu-Tron (aka Old-Tron) sounder, this newer version again has an unusual box shape, though one that's much more commonly seen as it's popular with many other companies too. I know nothing of it inner workings, but in superficial design terms it's a good choice: the rounded grey N matches the rounded grey sounder nicely. I found it on the old Scala cinema at Kings Cross, which is now a pool hall; and it looks like someone's scraped a circular sticker off the centre of it, suggesting it's been maintained. • Spotted: Kings Cross Bridge, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Nu-Tron”, Camden: on the old-tron Scala Cinema

“Micro”, Camden: a classic of computer design

"Micro Security Systems" burglar alarm, Camden • This is a classic piece of retro-futurism - it's called Micro, and is illustrated with a microchip, that pinnacle of modernity. The typeface is a Letraset classic called Data 70 (the name's a good clue to its vintage), created by British designer Bob Newman in 1970. It's one of many such that came out around that time, based on the machine-readable MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) text you can still find in chequebooks, which despite the banks' best efforts are still with us. Since their brief moment of trendiness, such "computer fonts" have lived on eternally in the worlds of sci-fi and naffness, though it's the kind of naffness that graphic designers always retain a fondness for. For any typophiles perusing this, there's a really interesting thread about the origins of Data 70-style letterforms here. Of more interest to security professionals will be that the Micro lives above an extremely well-preserved vintage AFA sounder, with all the attendant wiring intact – it's pictured below. Much more fascinating than  the origins of a dodgy old computer font (not). • Spotted: New Oxford Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2012 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Micro”, Camden: a classic of computer design

“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

“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.
“Samaritan”, Camden: unholy rip-off

“Genesis”, Camden: biblical beginnings

"Genesis Integrated Systems" burglar alarm, Camden • This is possibly named after the horrible band (it could be an above shot of one of Peter Gabriel's early hairstyles), but I shall assume it's a reference to the first book of the Bible and the origin of the world. All that plus integrated systems too! While researching the Genesis singer's "reverse mohawk" (below), I came across brilliant medieval illustration showing the first day as essentially the view from an aeroplane window (also below). Or perhaps a giant celestial laundromat. • Spotted: Southampton Place, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras Above: Peter Gabriel's early Genesis "reverse mohawk" barnet, and a laundromat-style first day of creation as depicted in the Nuremburg Chronicle of 1493
“Genesis”, Camden: biblical beginnings

“MECE”, Camden: see me

"MECE" burglar alarm, Camden • Assuming this firm isn't run by an ecstasy-chugging rapper called MC EE, the logo is intended to read "me see" – geddit? – and is thus, like yesterday's iC, a "backronym". What the letters actually stand for isn't indicated on MECE's website, though I did learn that it's a huge 18-year-old company with offices across Europe, and loads of major clients including Eurotunnel, Cambridge University and the 2012 Olympics. Which makes it odd that I've only ever come across a couple of their sounders. • Spotted: Store Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2010 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“MECE”, Camden: see me

“BBB”, Camden: to BBB or not to BBB?

"BBB Security" burglar alarm, Camden • Lisa from The Simpsons once impressed infatuated thicko Ralph Wiggum with a card reading "let's bee friends" (pictured below) – which sadly, like the hopeless Ralph, I find incredibly funny. But it doesn't get to the tragicomic nub of this sweetly silly logo, whose deceptively jolly graphics mask the spectre of death: for to be truly effective, these cheery charging arthropods must surely forfeit their lives with their stings. A profound message indeed for a burglar alarm, and one that Shakespeare might have summed up on a greetings card as "To BBB or not to BBB?" • Spotted: Great Russell Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras Above: Ralph's bee card and a real bee (photo by Thomas Tolkien)
“BBB”, Camden: to BBB or not to BBB?

“Garfield”, Camden: not funny

"Garfield" burglar alarm, Camden • This company has put a chain around the entire northern hemisphere, from Greenland to equatorial Africa. Blimey! The trouble is most people associate Garfield with a not-funny American cartoon cat, and no amount of faded, cheap-looking Photoshoppery is going to change that. The firm could simply have given in and changed their branding to a kitten in chains; but instead they sold out in 2008 to ADT, so this improbable logo is no more. • Spotted: Bloomsbury Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Garfield”, Camden: not funny

“Classic Security”, Camden: a witty match

"www.Classic-Security.com" burglar alarm, Camden • How perfect is this? Such a witty match between burglar alarm and business can be no coincidence. Not only does Classic Security's name allude to the shop it protects, which specialises in ancient Greek-style gifts, but the Parthenon logo that decorates it looks just like the portico of the grand building opposite: that neo-classical repository of Greek and Roman loot, The British Museum. Not quite mythology perhaps, but a nice summation of the subject. Tomorrow: the Zodiac (so more mythology, really). • Spotted: Bury Place, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras Above: It's All Greek (left), a gift shop in Bloomsbury, whose classical burglar alarm matches the building opposite (right) – The British Museum
“Classic Security”, Camden: a witty match

“Magpie Services”, Camden: one for sorrow

"Magpie Services" burglar alarm, Camden • Two security tropes for the price of one: a thieving magpie, and a garland of locksmithery (a subject I shall cover soon). I can't let my final magpie pass without remembering the rhyme famous from classic 1970s kids' TV show Magpie: "One for sorrow / Two for joy / Three for a girl / Four for a boy / Five for silver / Six for gold / Seven for a secret never to be told / Ma-a-a-aaaag-piiiiiiiiie!". Those too young to remember the tune can revisit Magpie's brilliant 1970s opening sequence, sung by the Spencer Davis Group, here• Spotted: Marchmont Street, Camden, London, WC1, England, 2011 • Politics: In the Labour constituency of Holborn and St Pancras
“Magpie Services”, Camden: one for sorrow