This site is dedicated to ‘ghost’ signs, the fading remains of hand-painted signs. The aim is to raise awareness and understanding of ghost signs through a variety of projects, including research, publishing, tours and events. Below you’ll find some frequently asked questions about ghost signs and some of the projects I’ve worked on.
My ongoing work in this endeavour is supported by the generosity of my Patreon patrons and one-off donations received via PayPal, so please consider one of these if you would like to contribute towards the initiative.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following are some frequently asked questions with links to useful resources to explore the themes in more depth, many from the blog.
What is a ghost sign?
My working definition is ‘fading painted sign’ which is justified in this extended essay. Broadly the main things to consider are the form and content of the sign i.e. how it was produced and what it’s purpose was/is. Depending on your views on each of these dimensions you may arrive at a different definition to mine. (NB. I didn’t coin the term.)
Where can ghost signs be found?
When were ghost signs painted?
It depends what you count as a ghost sign, but people have been making marks on walls since pre-historic times. More recently there is evidence of commercial signage in the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and then an 1820s one in Bath.
Should ghost signs be protected and/or restored?
See posts on protection and posts on restoration from the blog. I would also recommend reading this extended piece I wrote for the Monotype Recorder on the wider question of what to do about ghost signs and some more in-depth thoughts on this difficult question.
Here are some initiatives that I’ve been involved with since first becoming aware of ghost signs in 2016. These have included ghost signs-related projects via sister initiative Better Letters.
I’m always open to new collaborations so please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch and talk about your ideas.
2013–: Ghostsigns Walking Tours
2014: Sign Painters Screening
2016: Ghostsigns Tours App
2016: Light Capsules
2018: N.E. Signs