The Launch Of The Ghost Signs Archive

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 97 months ago
The Launch Of The Ghost Signs Archive
Bacon & Son, Chalk Farm Road
Bacon & Son, Chalk Farm Road
Dispensing chemist, Barnsbury
Dispensing chemist, Barnsbury
Fountain pens, Stoke Newington Church Street. Sam Roberts cites this as one of his early inspirations for the entire Ghost Signs project
Fountain pens, Stoke Newington Church Street. Sam Roberts cites this as one of his early inspirations for the entire Ghost Signs project
Scales and weighing machines, Kings Cross
Scales and weighing machines, Kings Cross
Printing, Rye Lane, Peckham
Printing, Rye Lane, Peckham
Salvation Army, Old Street
Salvation Army, Old Street
Veglio & Co, Oxford Circus; this long-lost sign was uncovered last year when the adjacent building was torn down as part of the Crossrail work at Tottenham Court Road
Veglio & Co, Oxford Circus; this long-lost sign was uncovered last year when the adjacent building was torn down as part of the Crossrail work at Tottenham Court Road

At a ceremony on Thursday evening, the Ghost Signs archive on the History of Advertising Trust website was officially launched.

Sam Roberts, the originator of the project (and previous Londonist interviewee), explained how Ghost Signs came to life a few years back when he began documenting the plethora of old painted brick ads in Stoke Newington as little more than a personal hobby. From such humble beginnings an obsession was born, one that Sam quickly found was shared by many other passionate urban historians in the city and beyond, and it wasn't long before a blog and Flickr group were created to help manage the enormous amount of material flowing in. Through the involvement of the History of Advertising Trust, and Rank Hovis' sponsorship, the archive gradually came to fruition.

The enthusiasm of many amateur photographers, and their willingness to release their work for free, has resulted in an indexed, searchable archive, one that will only grow as more ads (and the unknown histories of those who painted them) are discovered. As Roberts notes in a monograph to commemorate the launch: "The diversity of lettering forms and illustration highlight the skill and flair that each signwriter once brought to their work, in contrast to the carbon copy posters of today".

Click through the images above for a collection of London ghost signs, or visit the London section of the archive for more

Last Updated 19 March 2010

Sam Roberts

Thanks for the write up and great to meet you last night, the pictures and words from the event are now online. Visit this post on the blog.

Dhl Brown

My favourite has recently been covered by graffitti and ivy.
it read "the flickerless cinema"
On a wall in New Cross. Shame it's only now legible only if you already knew what it said
Dianne