In the old days, before Chinese stores got into cheap neon signs and large characters in ugly fonts, stores in China used 幌子 (huǎngzi) to advertise and demonstrate what they sold. As the Capital Museum explained: “幌子 is the business logo of stores in old China, a strategy used to attract customers. They are made of paper, cloth, leather, bamboo, wood, copper, iron, tin, etc. The styles and patterns vary according to the store’s type and products.” For example, an alcohol store would hang a gourd flask, and a sock shop would hang a sock. A series of illustrations of these huangzi caught many Chinese’s attention, bringing up their memories of a past when Chinese culture had not given way to modernization, and maintained its intricate handmade glory.
From left to right: book binding, photography, silver ingot moulder/storage (banking), horse tassels, jewelry/accessories, net made from horse tail hair to hold hair buns
From left to right: shoes, socks, tobacco pipes, tobacco pipe stems, felt caps
From left to right: pawn, medicinal wine/apothecary, bath house, bamboo mat/summer mat, gold smiths and a gold broker
From left to right: grains, rice, old rice from last year, dim sum/cakes
From left to right: soap, snuff (tobacco), hats, knives and scissors, paper clothes for the dead
For more stores’ huangzi, check out this photo album and here.