Ghost Signs, The Archive


[The following blog post was written in March 2009 and signified the start of the effort to create a Ghostsigns Archive. This has been realised with the archive opening for business on 19th March 2010. Visit this page for more information.]

So, what’s this new look banner on the blog?

  • It’s the start of a tangible objective for the Ghost Signs project.
  • It’s a ‘call for entries’ to bring together the wealth of material and knowledge that exists collectively among us.
  • It’s about finding a home for our signs for future generations’ education and understanding.
  • It’s about preserving and caring for this overlooked aspect of our advertising, craft and commercial history.

Last Thursday I went for another visit to the History of Advertising Trust (HAT). It was a really good day and I managed to dig up a couple of interesting historical items which I’ll post more about later.

The main purpose of my visit was to talk to HAT about the possibility of creating an online photographic archive dedicated to UK & Ireland Ghost Signs. As a charity they don’t have lots of money but have agreed that this type of material would sit well with the things they already have. We left it that I would go about pulling the material together and, while doing so, we would both look for ways of funding the work in the future, perhaps via sponsorship or creating a book of the archive.

The first step I’ve taken is to create a new group on Flickr which is dedicated to bringing together the disparate collections of UK & Ireland signs that already exist. Hopefully this will help to gauge how much support and willing there is out there for getting this project off the ground. It might seem that Flickr is a good enough place for them to be located but I think there will be real value in adding to the HAT collection, safe in the knowledge that the photos will be cared for by professionals with extensive expertise well into the future.

So, its over to you. If you are up for contributing to the project you need to do a couple of things:

  1. Commit to the archive by submitting your pictures to the new group on Flickr. The group is invite only so just put in a request and I’ll let you in.
  2. Begin to build up as much background information about your pictures as possible. The real educational value will come if the archive has more than just pictures in it. Good starting points would be location, photographer and the date the picture was taken. Adding stuff about the companies is then a huge bonus.
  3. Give suggestions of how to gain some funding for the project.

Please pass this information on to anyone and everyone who might be interested and get photographing and researching so that you can add to the collective understanding of this subject for years to come.

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