During the 19th century, ships’ names were often carved and painted on wooden signs and displayed on the vessels. Since shipwrecks were common, the signs often washed ashore and ended up as exterior home decorations in Cape villages. Interestingly, these quarterboards were first carved in the town of Chatham.
“Past and present Chatham is tied together by the tradition of quarterboards,” says Bob Lacy, owner of the Chatham Sign Shop on Kent Place. “A visitor roaming the town’s back roads can’t help but notice how many houses have quarterboards. Some are old, some are new, but the names are all interesting.”
In business for more than 25 years, the Chatham Sign Shop offers quarterboards—as well as a variety of other carved wooden signage—in a range of traditional sizes, styles, colors, and shapes: from small oval street numbers to family name signs featuring a custom design.