19 Apr 2018

Ghostsigns

Ghostsigns are the faded advertisements of yesteryear still visible above today's streets mostly in the form of hand-painted letters on brick walls. These were commissioned either by well-known companies to sell their branded products or by local businesses keen to attract passing trade. The signs would have been hand-painted by specialist, skilled craftsmen, often using the lines in the brickwork as guides for the size of the letterforms as shown in the example I have created here. This hand-crafted and labour-intensive form of advertising might seem strange to us today, with our large-format printing, lightboxes and interactive bus shelter ads, but 100 years ago signs such as this one were commonplace – in fact, high street buildings were barely visible beneath the paint and posters.
On my ghostsign walking tours and online presentions you'll hear the often fascinating stories behind the ads including bogus potions, big brands and small traders.
I think the 'ghostsign' term can also apply to other types of defunct signage for brands or businesses which no longer exist at that site. These might be visible as names embedded into masonry or forged within metalwork.

To find my walks and talks on Eventbrite, simply enter 'janeslondonwalks' into the site's search box

Other areas coming soon.

See here for more about ghostsigns.

Can you help me to decipher this one in Islington?

Customer reviews and feedback