GEORGICS V puzzle

September 14, 2018

Georgics V
Steve has sent me a picture of a dog sign that looks the same age as the one put on the blog 2 days ago. He found it between Bella Napoli and Frend & Co Jewellers.
Georgics V
Then to trump that he also sent a sign, above the Fatface shop, that could have been left from the Coronation of King George V in 1911. The Latin for George V that appeared on coins from 1911 was GEORGIVS V. (I am not sure why a ‘C’ rather than a ‘V’ is used on the sign.)
Georgics V
This is a detail from a larger Coronation picture from 1911 taken in Abingdon where the crowd could be gathered for the bun throwing, or perhaps for the moment when people first joined in ‘God Save the King’ for George V.
Georgics V
And here is an advert for A.H.Simpson & Son – Tailors and Outfitters from about that time, as it appeared in the Hooke’s Abingdon Almanack.
Georgics V
The building is now the premises of FATFACE Abingdon, where the facade of the upper two storeys have not changed much in over 100 years, but no longer copy the arches of the lower floor.

Filed under: heritage

9 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. newcomer  |  September 15, 2018 at 10:06 am

    What philistine thought that a shopfront would be an improvement on the original arched ground-floor frontage of the current Fatface?

  • 2. ppjs  |  September 15, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    A member of the same philistine group that thought (thinks) that Fatface is a nice name for a shop. But, as Daniel would point out, the flowers are lovely.

    BTW I thin the blue letter are simply evidence of the white letters being plastic and having detached.

    Georgics V is at the back of what passes for my brain. The Roman poet Virgil wrote four books of Georgics (about agriculture and the like) and I think Georgics V is an oblique and wry reference, but it all escapes me now.

  • 3. ant  |  September 15, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    I feel that some form of reference to Virgil’s Georgics is too abstruse, but I like the idea of it being a left-over from the 1911 celebrations. It is not there on some of the late C19 photographs of the building but I have not yet pinned down exactly when it did appear.

  • 4. ppjs  |  September 15, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    I agree, Ant; I don’t think the sign refers to a Roman poet, but to the allusion of “Georgics V” which I have seen somewhere else and cannot now remember.

  • 5. Daniel  |  September 15, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Thank you ppjs; I was just about to say…

    Won’t be long now before those flowers will be past their best so are all ripped up and chucked … before any of us mere residents get our grubby little mitts on them for our own gardens.

    But, they do look wonderful none the less…and so Abingdon continues to be A-OK.

  • 6. ant  |  September 17, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    The Georgics sign is not there is a 1909 photo – see ‘Abingdon Past and Present’ page 19. I am coming round to the George V coronation idea.

  • 7. Iain Strachan  |  February 7, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    I just noticed this today (having lived in Abingdon over 35 years!) It is puzzling – the Roman poetry allusion doesn’t seem appropriate, and the coronation idea would seem to fit (I’m guessing bun-throwing took place to celebrate that event), except when I first saw it I thought it should say GEORGIVS.

    I’ll be interested to see if anyone can come up with an explanation.

  • 8. Iain Strachan  |  February 7, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Have just checked on Wikipedia. There only appear to be four volumes of Virgil’s “Georgics”, so Georgics V can’t be a reference to it.

  • 9. Iain Strachan  |  February 8, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    I now have the solution! An obscure Facebook group named “Naturally Pedantic” came up with the answer, provided by an article in the Oxon Recorder in 2004 by Gillian Harrison:

    It is quite recent (1990s) and IS a reference to Virgil’s “Georgics”, even though there are only four of them:

    “If you’re waiting for the bank to open or are just hanging about in Abingdon, take a look at the first floor level of Ciro Citterio, the building on the corner of Bridge Street and the Market Place. Just above the signs telling you that you are in the Market Place and how to get to the Parish Church you will see a short, rather dark nameplate reading GEORGICS V. How old is it and what on earth does it mean?
    You’ll never guess. For a start, it is quite modern – put up in the early 1990s. It has no connection with King George V, as some people have suggested. But it does refer to Virgil’s set of poems about agriculture, known as the Georgics, although he only wrote four.
    The building was bought a decade ago by a local agricultural company (they bred pigs, among other things). The new owner’s wife had studied Latin literature and thought that it would be a good idea to pay tribute to Virgil by giving the company the name of an imaginary fifth Georgic. I
    don’t know if Virgil was very sound on pigs but he might have been tickled by being associated with Italian fashion.”

    So … a humorous company name chosen by a classical scholar whose husband bred pigs!

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