Architect’s and builder’s name tablets

Architect and builder’s name tablets, late 1930s Art Deco – Later Neo-Romanian style, Dorobanti area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I am always on the lookout, during my routine architectural history fieldwork in Bucharest or other places in Romania, for name tablets: architect’s, builder’s and also proprietor’s name tablets. They are important documentary elements that can give clues about the history of the house, its more precise dating, style and manner of design and also in case the architect is famous, can noticeably increase the value of the propriety. I struck lucky with the example seen in the photograph above, by finding “two for the price of one” such artifacts. There is a tablet containing the name of  the famous architect Gheorghe Simotta and another of a highly reputable building company of inter-war Bucharest, Belli Brothers. The lettering of the two tablets contrast in their manner of rendering- that of the architect having the letters protruding out, while the constructor’s one is grooved within surface. They adorn a grandiose Art Deco – Later Neo-Romanian style edifice from the Dorobanti area of Bucharest. That mix of styles can also be noted in that of the lettering: Simotta’s tablet being in the Art Deco vein, while Belli Brothers’ inclining toward the Neo-Romanian lettering style.

Art Deco era ceramic tile supplier tablet

Art Deco era ceramic tile supplier tablet (©Valentin Mandache)

During a recent Art Deco and Modernist walking tour in the central area of the Bucharest I photographed the above rare instance of  a well preserved 1930s tablet containing the name and address of a local ceramic tile (“Rako” make) supplier (someone called “B. Ungureanu”). It is part of the tile pavement flooring at the entrance of the famous Modernist building ARO (“The Romanian Insurance”) Building by arch. Horia Creanga (1938) on Calea Victoriei boulevard. I like the lettering style of the tablet, in the Art Deco vein, seen especially in the shape of the letters “S” or “A” and also its modernity- it can well be a nowadays name tablet, with only the web address missing. The tilling and the tablet make up a good quality Art Deco style flooring design, which seems to be a characteristic of the period seen in other examples that I documented on this blog, such as the case of a kitchen ground and that of a hallway floor.

Art Deco era builder name tablet

The name tablets of architects and builders are a conspicuous and enchanting feature on many of Bucharest’s inter-war public and private edifices. There is a great variety of lettering designs, with the most attractive ones adorning the Art Deco era buildings. The images bellow (grey scale and inverse colour copies of the same photograph) present a builder’s name tablet dating from the second part of the 1930s, which I found during my architectural photography outing yesterday in the Cotroceni area of the city. The name “G. Davys” indicates a person of west European descent, possibly Welsh, working as a developer on the lucrative Romanian property market of that era. I like the highly schematic design of the letters and their excellent inner proportion. The inverse colour filter image (second bellow) excellently conveys the three-dimensionality of these letters evidenced by the strong late afternoon sunshade of that day.

Art Deco era builders name tablet (grey scale filter), Cotroceni area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Art Deco era builders name tablet (inverse colour filter), Cotroceni area, Bucharest ©Valentin Mandache

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I endeavour through this series of periodic articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.

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If you plan acquiring or selling a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing and transacting the property, specialist research, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.