Painted Lettering

Painted lettering in its many forms, including signwriters and signpainters at work, signboards, showcards, experimental and more.


Above is my 2007 photo of the Brymay/John Bull palimpsest on Quernmore Road in Haringey. At the time, in addition to wondering who John Bull was, I said I needed to go back in the winter when the tree would be less obstructive. I did […]

Quernmore Road Signs & Ghostsigns Cluster


Spitalfields Life has published a series of pieces documenting East End shop fronts, in support of the campaign against the forthcoming rise in business rates across the area. I have picked one photo from each piece and would encourage a proper browse of all of […]

East End Shops from Spitalfields Life


I am conducting a small investigation into the ghostsigns of Islington and am appealing for help from readers of this blog. The map below (view full screen) will form the basis for this, in the context of the following notes. Recently while going through old […]

Painted Advertisements in Islington: Part 1



Painted sign in English on a Paris wall saying 'Do not loiter in garage, or bother mechanics. Please use facilities of waiting room' 4
I heard about this ghostsign in Paris via an email from Ralph Adam. It caught my attention for the use of English language on an historic sign in France and reminded me of the British Legion sign in Ypres, Belgium. It was then photographed by […]

NOTICE: An English Language Ghostsign in Paris


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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


Philip Marriage recently sent me this photo of these perpendicular palimpsests at the junction of Brick Lane and Princelet Street. He was trying to work out what they say. This followed his question about the location of another Spitalfields ghostsign which followers on Twitter and […]

Spitalfields Ghostsigns from Philip Marriage



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One month ago I attended the launch of Ghostletters Vienna at the Wien Museum in Austria’s capital city. The book was conceived, written and produced by Tom Koch, alongside photographers Daniel Gerersdorfer and Stephan Doleschal. It got off the ground with two crowdsourcing efforts, one […]

Ghostsigns & Ghostletters of Vienna



Craig Winslow is an experiential designer who has recently turned his gaze towards ghostsigns, and the creative possibilities offered by applying his expertise in light projection mapping. The idea first came to him during a trip across America and has grown since. In essence it […]

Light Capsules from Craig Winslow




Joe Thompson emailed me these fascinating photos of lettering on unusual objects, namely a dead whale (1919) and a shipwrecked oil tanker (1926). They are from San Francisco, recently donated to the Western Neighbourhoods Project. Read more about the photos and the project on SF […]

Writing on the Whale and Other Novelties


Painted sign fading on a wall advertising Teinturerie des Penitents
A new book from Steven Heller and Gail Anderson features a handful of my ghostsigns photos from around the world (London, Cambodia, France and Australia). Typographic Universe documents a variety of ‘found’ letters in the environment, people and animals, alongside the creation of letters from […]

Ghostsigns in the Typographic Universe



Painted sign on a wall for A.v.Wees Cola Drink
Last month I visited Amsterdam as part of my work on Better Letters. (Read more about it here, including lots more photos of lettering and signage.) While there I saw a number of ghostsigns, including many that have been repainted as part of the work […]

Ghostsigns in Amsterdam & Some Repainted


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I’ve recently subscribed to Shopfrontelegy, a post-per-day blog from Vici MacDonald, the photographer and publisher behind Formerly. Given my recent interest in ‘fading fascias‘ the blog has been compulsive reading/viewing, with a collection of shopfront photography going back many years. It should probably come with […]

The Fantastic World of Shopfrontelegy


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