Ghostsigns and wonders

26th August 2016

A shopping jaunt in Tooting today was joyfully enhanced by a ‘ghostsign’ for Meggezones (above). This adorns the corner of Upper Tooting Road and Noyna Road (below), just a few yards from Tooting Bec underground. Encountering such fading painted wall signs is one of the chief joys of being a London flaneur. And if you too enjoy them you need to know about Sam Roberts’ handsome and hugely informative Ghostsigns website. Here you’ll find an archive of great images, details of walking tours and a good if sporadic blog.

Now there’s also an associated academic collection of essays, Advertising and Public Memory: Social, Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Ghostsigns, edited by Roberts together with Stefan Schutt and Leanne White, newly available from Routledge. The table of contents (reproduced below) gives a sense of what a rich range of subjects ghostsigns can connect with, but as with so many academic volumes the book retails at an unaffordable £85 for the hardback and just-beyond-my-budget-zone £34.99 for the e-book. As so often, the advice has to be, get thee to a library.

As for Meggezones, it would appear that they were available until recently but have been discontinued.


Advertising and Public Memory: Social, Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Ghostsigns, edited by Stefan Schutt, Sam Roberts and Leanne White, London: Routledge, 2017

Table of Contents

1. Uncovering Ghost Signs and their Meanings
[Leanne White, Stefan Schutt and Sam Roberts]

2. What is a Ghost Sign?
[Sam Roberts and Geraldine Marshall]

Part 1: Social Perspectives
3. The Ghost in the Sign: A Psychological Perspective on Ghost Signs
[Anthony W. Love]

4. Torch Songs to Modernity: Ghost Signs as Emblems of the Urban Soul
[Antonina Lewis and Kirsten Wright]

5. Crowdsourcing Pioneers: the Co-creation and Institutionalisation of an Amateur Collection
[Laura Carletti]

6. That One Up There Was Mine: Lost Artisan Identities and the Renewed Interest in Painted Advertising Signs
[Stefan Schutt and Tony Mead]

7. Displaying Ghost Signs Online
[Colin Hyde and Amy Barnes]

8. “This peaceful revolution”: resonances of a London ghost sign
[Yvette Williams Elliott]

Part 2: Cultural Perspectives
9. The Schwarzenegger hide-and-seek. Finding disappearing hand-painted signs in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
[Cristina Nualart]

10. Faux Ghost Signs: Nostalgia, Authenticity, and the Role of the Sign Painter
[Meredith Kasabian]

11. The InVisibility of Chicha: a Socio-Historical Account of the Emergence and (Re)production of Chicha as ‘Gráfica Popular’ in Lima, Peru
[Caroline E. M. Hodges, Azucena del Carmen Cabezas León and Janice Denegri-Knott]

12. Marketing the Past: Ghost Signs and Sydney’s Marketing History
[Robert Crawford]

13. Ghost Fascias: Retail Corporate Identity Revenants in Urban Space
[Gary Warnaby and Dominic Medway]

14. Bedrock
[David Bernstein]

Part 3: Historical Perspectives
15. Ghost Signs and the Teaching of Immigrant History
[Robert Pascoe and Gerardo Papalia]

16. The Mural Legacy of N.V. Gevaert Photo-Producten: Lessons from a Preservation and Restoration Process
[Klara Peeters, Sarah De Smedt and Joost Caen]

17. Signs of Life: Recognising the significance of Melbourne’s Historic Painted Signs
[Leisa Clements]

18. Olive Oyl Ignites a Spark
[Veerle De Houwer]

19. Historic Signs: Toward an Understanding of their Community Value in Heritage Practice
[Rachel Jackson]

20. Teaching the Ghost Signs of Seattle
[Marie Wong]

21. Ghost or Avatar? The Value of Conserving Heritage Signs
[David S Waller and Helen J Waller]

A Last Ghost Sign Story
[Stefan Schutt and Sam Roberts]


  1. Sam Roberts says:

    Thanks for linking to my projects/work. Today I’ve made my main paper in the book available for free here:

    I’m also working on a map, in an experimental phase, here:

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