22 Dec 2013

Défense D’Af: Faux Ghostsign from John Downer

Paris Hotel & Casino faux ghostsign by John Downer
Paris Hotel & Casino (Photo: Tom Downer)

John Downer is a master sign painter and typeface designer. He kindly shared the above faux ghostsign that he produced in 1999 for the Paris Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Those better versed in French will notice that the sign is incomplete and the full text should read, ‘Défense D’Afficher’. John shared the following with me:

Loosely translated, it reads Post No Bills. A more literal translation might be something like ‘Protected Against the Poster’. (Affiche is the French word for poster.)


Most of the signs that have the words Défense D’Afficher are on stucco walls, and the letters are normally large, about one foot tall. The lettering is often in an exaggerated thick-thin style and the words do not appear stacked, so that the message runs long.


The casino is in Las Vegas. Sign man Mark Oatis recruited a crew of colleagues to help do the signage there before the place opened. I was included partly because of my knowledge of French signage. We were greatly aided by referring to historical photographs taken by Eugène Atget in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

It’s a novel addition to the collection of faux ghostsigns in that it is deliberately incomplete, and in a language that differs from that of the country that it appears in.

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