Articles

Longer in-depth blog posts on specific topics related to ghostsigns, other forms of hand painted communications and related fields. Also includes posts that link to other extended content online or available in pdf format.




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When did old painted signs on walls become known as ‘ghost’ signs, and who coined the phrase? These questions crop up often in my discussions with others, and on my tours, and I always have to hold my hand up and say I didn’t invent […]

Tracing the Origins of ‘Ghost’ Signs



Restoration Period spread from Monotype Recorder
Last year I was invited to contribute an article on ghostsigns to the reincarnation of the Monotype Recorder periodical. It focused on issues of protection and restoration which I have covered regularly on this blog and continue to maintain an active interest in. A couple […]

Restoration Period in the Monotype Recorder


Fading sign painted on a wall advertising Dr King 1
This Melbourne ghostsign is a recent reveal and was captured by Nick Gadd, the writer behind Melbourne Circle. Nick’s research into the sign was recently published in an anthology of papers titled ‘Melbourne Subjective‘. He investigates the sign and creates a tentative hypothesis about who […]

Dr King: The Story of a Melbourne Ghostsign by Nick ...


Brimay Safety Matches Ghost Sign
One of the things I most enjoy about my work on ghostsigns is getting involved with student projects using the signs as a springboard into other creative processes. I’ve helped on a number of these, most recently the work of Gloria Soria at London College […]

Ghosting with Ghost Signs: An Experiment in Risography



Before and after of repainting of Stoakley & Son sign 10
This is the third and final post in a series documenting recent ghostsign restorations across the UK. It follows coverage of the Palladium Cinema restoration in Morecambe, and the repainting of the Larkspur Soft Drinks sign in Bradford. The focus this time is Cambridge and […]

Ghostsigns Restorations in Cambridge


Two fading painted signs advertising B.B.Te and Van Houten Cacao 4
Ghostsigns are a truly global phenomenon and the latest installment on my virtual travels comes courtesy of Hanne Andersen from Copenhagen, Denmark. She says that it’s her ‘hobby to find them’ and the evidence here is that the Danish were no slouches when it came […]

Danish Ghostsigns in Copenhagen


Fading painted advertisement on wall alongside piece of street art 6
Kasey Smith’s ‘Perception Filter‘ blog is well worth a follow for all ghostsigns enthusiasts. Her dispatches from San Francisco have been a big influence on me, as evidenced by the number of times I’ve decided to highlight her observations, insights, investigations and mapping efforts here on […]

Anarchy on the Walls: Ghostsigns, Street Art & Graffiti



Faux ghostsign for Cinquecento cafe 18
‘Faux’ ghostsigns are a relatively new phenomenon but are appearing with increasing frequency around the world. I invited Meredith Kasabian, of Boston’s Best Dressed Signs and The Pre-Vinylite Society, to share her thoughts given her and Josh Luke’s recent work on the example above. Several […]

Faux ghostsigns, authenticity and the passage of time: Guest post ...


Hand-painted sign on a wall revealed after demolition of adjacent building. 5
Fantastic reveal from St. Petersburg (Texas, not Russia). Three brands once resided in the building: Ermatinger hatters; Hayward’s toy shop; and the Wisteria confectionery company. Given the equal portion of wall space allotted to each business it is likely they split the cost of this sign […]

Multi-business ghostsign revealed in St. Petersburg, Texas


Hand painted sign on a wall advertising Smiths Grand Teas 2
This photo by John Vince features in a short piece he’s written on ghostsigns for the Countryman. The sign, from Leicestershire, also features in the History of Advertising Trust Ghostsigns Archive and has the wonderful ‘act local’ line of “Carefully blended to suit the water of […]

Ghostsigns and Smiths Grand Teas in the Countryman



Painted sign on a wall for Colt showing a cowboy on a horse
In 2009 the Colorado Gambler published an article by Cathleen Norman called ‘Walldogs, Ghost Signs and Slappy Hooper’. It packs a surprisingly large quantity of material about the history of painting signs on walls in the USA into a very short piece. However, the opening […]

Walldogs, Ghost Signs and Slappy Hooper


Hand painted sign in sky blue on a building advertising Radio 2KY
I’ve just come across this article in ProDesign magazine which profiles Mark Spurgeon of the Preserve project in New Zealand. I’ve written about Mark’s work before and how there are parallels with my own interest in ghostsigns.  This article reinforces those similarities. You can visit […]

Mark Spurgeon’s Preserve project in ProDesign


Partially complete hand painted sign for Coca-Cola on a wall
This is an amazing reveal inside a restaurant in Suffolk, Virginia, showing a vintage Coca-Cola almost perfectly preserved as it would have looked when first painted. This article offers some evidence that the sign could date from the 1890s, I wonder if they’ll do something […]

Perfectly preserved Coca-Cola sign revealed in restaurant renovations