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Saturday, October 19, 2013

I love Ghost Signs

My friend Cynthia's latest post over at Flotsam of the Mind has a wonderful photo of an old sign in the town one over from ours. That got me thinking about how much I love signs, and particularly how much I love ghost signs. 

According to Wikipedia a Ghost Sign is "old hand-painted advertising signage that has been preserved on a building for an extended period of time. The signage may be kept for its nostalgic appeal, or simply indifference by the owner." The Wikipedia article has more fascinating information that I didn't know -- I'd just appreciated these signs as being visually and historically interesting. Here are some other tidbits about them:

  • They are found cross the world with the US, UK, France and Canada having many surviving examples.
  • They are also called fading ads and brick ads.
  • In many cases these are advertisements painted on brick that remained over time.
  • They are occasionally discovered upon demolition of later-built adjoining structures
  • Many from the 1890s to 1960s are still visible
  • These signs were most commonly used in the decades before the Great Depression
  • The sign painters were called wall dogs
  • As signage advertising formats changed, less durable signs appeared in the later 20th century and ghost signs from this era are less common.
Now that you know more than you've ever wanted to know about these signs. Here are some of my photos of these ghost signs. All of these photos are from downtown Athens, Georgia, unless otherwise noted.

This is now an Art School building at the Univ. of GA

Lowell, MA
For comparison: modern billboard sign in Montreal, Canada

This sign from Montreal is not a ghost sign, but I liked it because it looks like it's painted and old. Do any of you love signs? Or is it just Cynthia and I?