Expression: gilt on black sand


Could you please tell me whether the following sentence:

could be paraphrased as:

From a second-floor window there was the sign “W. P. Kennicott, Phys. & Surgeon”, of which the letters were gilt and the structure was made of black sand?

Many thanks.


I don’t know if the link will work, but HERE’S one (scroll down a bit). An excerpt from the text:

“This is a fabulous early wooden trade sign for a chiropractor, double sided, with original gilt lettering on both sides on a black sand or smalt background. The sign dates late 1800s to early 1900s. The style of gilt on black smalt was the most expensive type of sign in its day and usually indicates that the doctor or tradesperson was successful and well off.”

‘Smalt’ = a coloring agent made of blue glass produced by fusing silica, potassium carbonate, and cobalt oxide, used in powdered form to add color to vitreous materials.

So this ‘black sand’ (a term with which I was unfamiliar) appears to be a sort of enamel backing for the lettering, (black, not blue).

Thank you so much, Mister Micawber. The link worked very well and the detailed interpretation and pictures explained everything! In fact, before I saw these pictures of a wooden trade sign for a chiropractor, I couldn’t even make up an imagination whatsoever for the sign. Now everything is clear. Please forgive me for my ‘nitpicking’ but I really have fun in it, which brings me with new knowledge and broadens my view.

Thanks again.