There’s a very good article in Collector’s Weekly about the recent resurgence of hand-painted signs. It’s bound to tickle the hearts of all sign aficionados as well as those who admire the skill involved in such work—mass production has not won out just yet! Moreover, what a wonderful field of work for those with an artistic spirit.
The article inspired me to post some of the best hand-painted “ghost signs” I’ve come across during my travels, including a few contemporary examples.
The above wall is one of the most richly-painted I’ve seen. My husband and I were on our way to visit friends in Nashville, taking old US-19 so as to better enjoy the ride. Though the weather was unseasonably cold and rain was pouring down to boot (see the raindrops on the lens?), my lack of proper attire didn’t stop me from taking quite a few quick snaps in the town of Weston, West Virginia.Weston is a gold mine of little cultural goodies like these ghost signs. I really need to get back…
The need for gyms and personal training not existing in the late 19th and early 20th century clearly indicate Wilmington, Ohio beauty as a newer sign—yet done in an old-fashioned style that fits in quite well with the town’s charm.
Though the White Satin Flour advertisement in the lower front corner of this Cambridge, Ohio building grabs our immediate attention, a second look reveals multiple ghost signs hovering near the top. Clearly something else was attached to the building and then removed to make room for the road.
This bright Merit Feed & Seed sign still pops from the side of an abandoned, crumbling garage along Route 66 in Texas. I’m still not able to decide whether or not someone refreshed the paint or if the trees have sheltered it from further degradation.
The hand-painted “Gem City” ice cream sign takes the charm of this Main Street vignette right over the top!
Another rainy-day treasure is this photo of a sign that hopes you’re selling, not buying. Unfortunately, the business appears to have gone under many years ago.
I spotted this, the littlest ghost sign yet, in Buchanan, a quiet town tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains. We’d stopped for lunch (and because we’d gotten slightly lost!)—it’s another gem of a place like Weston.
This is another vintage-looking sign, but it’s actually brand-new, painted in 2010 for the film “Super 8”, which was shot in the town we were living in at the time. Nice-looking, isn’t it?
I spotted this on an abandoned service station in Baxter Springs, Kansas. The flaking and wear actually makes it look all the better to me—though of course that means it’s likely to be gone completely some day. Of course, the things that wear us down are so often those that give us character, aren’t they?
Finally, one last (semi-) local ghost sign:
Just in case you miss that glorious blue, white, and red neon sign and what just might be a Vitrolite storefront (to say nothing of the lift-y0u-off-your-feet heavenly fragrance), the folks of Schuler’s, one of Springfield’s most popular bakeries, has a simple but warm ghost sign on the broad white side of their building. Boasting that Schuler’s is the “home of home made” might seem presumptuous to the beneficiaries of talented grandmothers from sea to shining sea, but if the number of folks going in and out were any indication, the treats are delicious. (Being celiac, I had to stay outside lest the temptation be too much!)
I hope you’ve enjoyed my favourite “walldogs”. Keep your eyes open for old ads like these—and their descendants!