Have you ever driven through farm country and saw an old sign painted on the side of a barn? How about walking around in a city and noticing an advertisement painted on the side of a building? These ads are called ‘Ghost Signs’.
Often when a building is being restored or an adjoining one demolished, these hidden gems of the advertising world are uncovered. Painted in oil paint by ‘wall dogs’ these signs were typical means of advertising from the 1890s to the 1960s
When I was a kid in Pittsburgh, there was a ghost sign painted on one of the city buildings. This sign was first thing I saw after emerging from the Fort Pitt tunnel and was very memorable because it was a sign for Shield’s Rubbers (truth be told, my sister had to remind me it was Shield’s Rubbers, as all I could remember was that it had something to do with condoms) and it made me giggle every time. For obvious reasons. And for my UK friends, a rubber IS NOT an eraser!
Ghost signs are everywhere. They are beautiful pieces of artwork as well as nostalgic markers of bygone products. Coca-Cola was/is a big believer in advertising, and their ghost signs can still be found in plenty all over the world.
So next time you are out an about, see if you can spot a ghost sign and enjoy some history, a Coke and a Smile as well.
Always look up, and you will be amazed at what you will see. Please share any ghost signs in your area here!
Check out ghostsigns.co.uk for European signs.