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a dutch polychrome decorated pharmacist's shop sign "gaper"

CIRCA 1900

a dutch polychrome decorated pharmacist's shop sign "gaper"
Circa 1900
Wearing a blue beret and green coat with a yellow bow-tie, sticking his tongue out, inscribed to the reverse JCK, minor losses
48cm. high

Lot Essay

The "gaper", a pharmecist's shop sign, is a typical Dutch phenomenon which nowadays has been replaced by neon signs, television commercials and bill boards.
The earliest indication of their existence dates from the late 16th/early 17th Century. Probably due to the weather, to which they were constantly exposed, the earliest examples we now know date from the 18th Century.
The precise meaning of the "gaper" is still not clear. It's strange apppearance, as blackamoor, joker, patient, fireman, soldier or policeman, with or without an outsticking tongue, gives motive to several theories. Suggestions range from keeping nosy people at distance while the pharmacist prepared his medecine, to averting evil ghosts or showing his tongue to the doctor for examination. (G. Reichwein et. al., 't Achterste van de Tong, The Hague, 1988)

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