Were there really once signs saying "No dogs or Jews/Mexicans?"

Every once in a while I will read or hear about signs on public pools, parks, recreation areas, or whatever, reading “No Dogs or Jews” or “No Dogs or Mexicans.”

I fully understand that there was once a time when discrimination was so rampant that there were signs specifying racial priviledges. However, I have a hard time believing that any public sign in America would be so classless and deliberately insulting as to lump “dogs” in with the unwanted ethnic group. I mean, even in the Jim Crow days, the signs said “WHITES ONLY” or “White” and “Colored” - not “NO BLACKS.” At least as far as I know.

So, did these “No Dogs or (x)” signs really exist?

If they did exist, might anyone have a picture of one?

I cannot vouch for the USA, but there was definitely a parallel in the UK in the 50’s.

My parents came over to London - from Ireland - in 1955 and my mother used to tell me that she regularly saw in windows of houses with rooms to let hand-written signs saying “No Blacks, No Irish, No Children, No Dogs”.

Johnny Rotten’s autobiography is entitled “No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs”, after his own parents’ memories of such things.

Every a sign like this? Sure, almost certainly somewhere at someplace, sometime. Were such signs widespread? Well, the fact you have to ask the question sort of points up toward the answer.

I have personally seen (old, faded, painted over) ‘Colored’ signs. I have also seen them in old photos. They were once quite common. I have never seen a sign like you describe. They were probably quite rare.

Here is an image of such a sign, courtsey of the online portion of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memoribilia.

The fact that the sign appears to have been mass-produced says a lot.

That sign looks too new, though, like it’s a reproduction of something that may or may not have existed. I’ve seen similar “NO DOGS OR IRISH” signs in shops specializing in pop culture and kitsch items.

Later in the page, there’s a “RESTROOMS -> WHITES ONLY” sign. While I have no doubt that such signs existed, the date on the sign looks like 1926 or 1928. The typeface is Helvetica, which was developed in 1957.

I was going to link to that same site.

I don’t mean this in a bad way, but this statement displays a lot of naivete about America and Americans. This might be a good opportunity for Argent to take a real, hard look at our political and cultural history.

If you think those signs are a sign of public lack of class, then take a look at some of these books available on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/102-8984135-1308140 . People in public treated lynchings as public celebrations and took photographs, proudly displaying their handiwork.

Want something that will really blow your mind?

Here is the story of Ota Benga, an African man who was once kept in the Bronx Zoo in a cage with an oragutan.

Helvetica was developed based on the much earlier “Akzidenz Grotesk” font, introduced in 1896. Here’s an example of it. There is no real reason to think that the “Whites Only” sign in question is not authentic.

Not really a true cite but my grandmother told me that when the family came to the U.S. in the 1910’s there were “No rentals for Jews or Dogs” signs on apartment buildings in New York City.

Maybe, but on old stock signs, I’ve seldom seen relatively modern san serif typefaces used. Typefaces would usually be serif, or resemble “signpainter copy” (WWII propaganda posters, dry cleaner promotional signs, etc.). Signs appearing in more than one typeface, also incorporating script, were also more common. I’ve NEVER seen Akzidenz Grotesk or a similar font on a sign from before the 1960s. Even in print, its use was rare.

When a typeface is introduced, it takes a while before its use becomes widespread; Helvetica didn’t become popular until the late 1960s. Even a Jim Crow sign from 1960 would probably not be in Helvetica.

I know I’ll probably end up in the pit for expressing a politically incorrect opinion, but I think the sign is a fake. The attitude may be real, but the sign isn’t.

Why not e-mail the museum and ask them about the sign? Tell them all about the fonts and whatnot.

They should have the sign’s provenance.

Well, this is pretty interesting.

I looked at Akzidenz Grotesk, and it looks nothing like the font on the sign. OK, maybe I use “nothing like” too strongly, but the sign shown has a very tell-tale Helvetika “R.” Look at Akzidenz. The “R” looks nothing like it.

I was very skeptical of elmwood’s assertions, but the typeface in that sign is almost certainly Helvetica.

Just because that sign is a fake/reproduction, doesn’t mean that there weren’t real ones.

I’m not contesting (and I don’t think anyone else is) that there weren’t real signs like that.

We all know about the wonders of PhotoShop. Having said that, I am hard pressed to believe that




signs presented here are fakes.

However, I will admit that there is some respectable evidence proving that there is a brisque market in fake Jim Crow signage. ( personally, I find this to be despicable but that’s just me… )


Skeptical? The sign has a date in the 1920s, and is using a 1950s typeface. it’s a bad reproduction.

I still think the “No DOGS NEGROS MEXICANS” sign on the linked site is a reproduction. This This eBay auction shows a reproduction of the "NO DOGS NEGROS MEXICANS sign, but look carefully - it’s a repro of a 1940s sign, again using Helvetica. Jim Crow and “mammy” memorabilia is popular in some circles, and it may be possible that someone is making something they claim to be a reproduction, but is actually a retro-style racist statement. “I heard that there were signs like this, so I’ll print up a batch that look really old and sell 'em to African-Americana collectors on eBay.”

I’m not saying such signs didn’t exist in pre-Civil Rights era America. I’d like to see proof, though, not urban legendy FOAF recollections or statements like “Well, it could have happened.” There’s old photos of segregated water fountains, train stations, bathrooms, and so on. There’s got to be an old photo of a “NO DOGS OR [ETHNIC GROUP]” sign somewhere then, right?

I’ve seen reproductions of signs from long ago for sale in places catering to antique lovers. In most cases these are pretty obvious reproductions, not meant to fool anyone. The pristine condition of the signs is often a dead giveaway.
I also don’t put much stock in the typeface argument =-- I’ve seen plenty ogf old street signs that were sans serif and were clearlt pre-1957.

The font argument is not that sans serifs weren’t used pre-1957–it’s not my argument at least–it’s just that the particular font, Helvetica, wasn’t used. Unless you can find another font that looks just like it dating back to the 20s…

elmwood–I said “skeptical” because I wasn’t sure at first whether that font was definitely Helvetica–you do have a rather limited selection of letters to use. However, the style of that font, the “R,” the shape of the "O"s and everything about it points to your assertion being true. I certainly agree with you.