The Ghost Sign Hunters

A wonderful interview with Nick Gadd and Stephen Banham on ABC Radio discussing ghost signs and ghost sign hunting.

Ghost signs - those ephemeral, faded signs on the sides of buildings which advertise a shop or product of days gone-by - hold a particular appeal among a growing band of enthusiasts who are photographing them for prosperity.

Nick Gadd, a Melbourne-based writer, is one who has joined the merry band of ghost sign hunters around the world. He was introduced to them by a friend a couple of years ago and now takes great delight in not only photographing them, but uncovering the stories behind them.

One of his favourites was a sign that appeared in Melbourne's CBD a few years ago during construction work which advertised the work of a Dr King and was painted around 1890. Through searching library records, Gadd discovered that Dr King was an ambitious young doctor who was also a bit of a quack, advertising his services elsewhere as a 'medical clairvoyant'.

Stephen Banham is a typography expert and the founder of Melbourne based studio Letterbox. He believes ghost signs hold appeal because they remind people of a time when signs were carefully hand painted, an art form that has been in danger of dying out completely. He says in recent years there has been a renewed interest in the art of hand painted signs among graphic designers, a resurgence he believes often occurs when a skills looks like disappearing altogether.

The ghost sign hunters
with Michael Williams on RN
Saturday 21st February 2015