Whether fascia boards or fonts, hand-painted advertisements or glass-case extensions like the one below at Cepelia, there's something undeniably special about Warsaw's neon semiotics be they of a drugstore or drapery, hairdresser or grocer. As David Crowley remarks in an essay Life after Dark incorporated into Ilona Karwinska's retrospective Warszawa Polski Neon: 'The value in these bright symbols lies in their capacity to cast a distinctly local light on the tidal wave of global advertising which has washed over the city.' Moreover, and as these photos show, the ubiquitous helvetica seems happily absent, and, it needn't be 'after dark' to appreciate this old-world beauty.

The Varsovian hairdresser shop front is always particularly endearing. In this part of Stary Mokotow, this one is on Ludwika Narbutta Street, there are several fryzjers all vying for the most aesthetic shop frontage. Walking though this part of Warsaw, one soon realises that the sombre subdued tones and the absence of any garish in-your-face industrial colour, endows the surface of the city (if not also that which lies beneath it) with a wonderfully earthy quality. The Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky noted that the spiritual growth of man began with the study of colour. One could do a lot worse than wandering around the streets of Stary Mokotow.

Sunlit 'owoce' (fruit) and 'warzywa' (vegetables) on the corner of Kielecka and Rakowiecka at the end of a cold March day.

Silk - Wool - Cotton (Jedwab, Welna, Bawelna). A drapers shop on the corner of Pulawska and Antoniego Malczewskiego.

In a city of slowly dissapearing neon this is my absolute favourite, mostly because of the deep blue colour (which the camera does not do justice here) and the white double underscore. Technically of course, this is not neon, since neon is of an unmistakeably bright orange colour. All other colours, this one included, are created using a mercury vapour discharge which excites a phosphor via fluorescence. The 'apteka' signs had one design all over Warsaw, and there can still be seen a great many like this one with small variations.

A florists in Kolo.

A jeweller's in Ulica Dabrowskiego in Stary Mokotow.

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