26 Mar 2014

Scotland in Detail: Vintage Signs from Dave Cowan

Montage of vintage signs from Scotland
Vintage Signs by Dave Cowan / Scotland in Detail

This fabulous montage of Scottish ghostsigns was created by Dave Cowan of Scotland in Detail. It is available as a print from his store and he says the following of his work and this creation [Links expired].

I’ve been fascinated by these old signs for a few years now. They’re glimpses into the past and it’s a terrible shame that so many of them are destroyed. In Scotland you can find them at entrances to Georgian buildings and Victorian tenements, where people used to work and live. They’d be painted just inside the doorway. Edinburgh still has a few – for everything from straw hat makers to Protestant societies. Some of my favourites come from my hometown, Dundee. You can see the titles of strange businesses like the United Alkali Company Ltd, or a sign for a music teacher called Mrs MacPherson who taught in her flat on the third floor. I like to think of Dundonians stopping to listen to her classes as they walked by on the street below.

Apart from anything else, it’s great fun hunting for them. When you slow down and start to look up and around, it’s amazing what you see. I started to photograph other small details, and have been producing montages for a website called www.scotlandindetail.com. The A2 montage of the ghost signs took a long time to get right. I use Photoshop Elements to crop them down and Publisher to laboriously piece them all together.

I think the final result is fantastic. These doorway signs do seem to be characteristic of Scotland and I’ve seen very few South of the border. Here are a couple of the original images that went into producing Dave’s montage. Thanks for sharing these and keep hunting!

Gold painted sign for James Rankin, Architect
Rankin by Dave Cowan / Scotland in Detail
Gold painted sign for Mrs McPherson, Teacher of Music
Mrs McPherson by Dave Cowan / Scotland in Detail

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