5 Aug 2012

Two brilliant ghostsigns from Bath

Enhanced image of hand painted sign on building in Bath

I was recently interviewed by Kirsten Elliott of Akeman Press for an article in a forthcoming magazine launch scheduled for later this year. We’ve since been in email contact as a result of our shared interest in ghostsigns and those from Bath in particular. (Regular readers will remember my little photo essay of a visit to the city back in 2010.)

Kirsten kindly sent me these pictures of two fascinating signs, each one interesting for different reasons. The first sign is noteworthy because it is advertising the work of its producer, signwriter R. Boseley. The close up image above has been digitally enhanced to show the level of craftsmanship that went into painting it, clearly an excellent way for a signwriter to demonstrate what they are capable of on behalf of paying clients. The one below shows the sign in context. Kirsten adds that:

The shop was there in 1826 at a quite prestigious address so it’s not impossible that he did the famous circulating library one, I suppose…

Hand painted sign on building in Bath showcasing the work of signwriter R. Boseley
Portion of wall removed to reveal early 1800s hand painted sign

This second sign is remarkable because Kirsten has managed to date it to the early 1800s. It is the oldest that I have come across in the UK and appears to have been protected by a plaster covering which has recently fallen away to show this little piece of history. On this one Kirsten comments:

The second pair of pictures is a new sign which has appeared when some plaster fell off the wall outside the Porter Pub. This shop was clearly once a chemist. It must be before 1837 – for reasons I won’t bore you with – but I haven’t managed to pinpoint the date yet. The writing looks like it is from about 1820.

Portion of wall removed to reveal early 1800s hand painted sign

Thank you for sharing these Kirsten, they are absolutely fascinating. Does anyone else know any other contenders for the title of ‘oldest ghostsign in the UK’, or indeed the world?

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