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Was Ghost Signs, now Old Building Signs

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  • From: Shenandoah Valley
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Was Ghost Signs, now Old Building Signs
Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, July 2, 2021 4:31 PM

I've changed the thread.  We used to have a member Tomcat, who posted old advertising ads or signs.  Let's go big or go home with signs painted on buildings.

Ghost signs are those faded signs one sees on building of older cities like Baltimore.  This video might give some ideas for signs on your layout. 

One of the few worthwhile places on Facebook are those that deal with history and have old pictures and ads.  There are also railroad historical societies.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, July 3, 2021 11:33 AM

Some of the neatest "ghost signs" in Milwaukee's Third Ward were ironically created to replicate old Chicago for the late 1960s filming of the movie "Gaily Gaily" based on a Ben Hecht story.  They used cheap paint to paint them so they aged fast and in not too many years people forgot about the movie and thought they were actual ghost signs from a more distant past.

I attended a clinic where the clinician took a paper sign (fairly thick bond paper) and laboriously sanded the paper thinner and thinner until it was almost tissue, then gingerly mounted it on a plastic brick building using diluted white glue, gently patted down into the mortar groves with a Q tip.

Ghost signs which are pure lettering (and here there are many genuine ghost signs of that sort in Milwaukee, sometimes with two or even three generations of signs co-existing in the same space) Art Curren showed how to use dry transfer lettering as a mask, one of the few times the weakened adhesive on very old dry transfers comes in handy!

Dave Nelson

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, July 3, 2021 1:05 PM

dknelson
...Art Curren showed how to use dry transfer lettering as a mask, one of the few times the weakened adhesive on very old dry transfers comes in handy!

Yeah, Art's use of dry transfers was one of the most valuable tips that I've encountered in decades of model railroading.

It allowed me to do these paint schemes commercially, when no proper decals or paint colours were available...

The process required painting the colours in reverse of what's shown, then over-painting with the correct version.  The first two or three dozen were done using a brush and custom-mixed Polly S paint.  The rest of the 70-or-so were done with an airbrush.
The herald on the sides of the cabs were all done freehand, using a brush, as no suitable dry transfers were available at that time.

Here's the two originals on my current layout...

I used the same procedure for the lettering on these two diesels...

...and for the 8 car train to which they were assigned...

I also used the same method for four of these freelanced SW1200RS diesels...

I also did several diesels in this paint scheme using dry transfers as masks for the lettering and masking tape for the stripes, on locomotives first painted all-yellow...

I also used dry transfers as masking devices for signs on structures, when lettering in some colours was not available.  Letraset was making lots of money from my modelling, I think.

Wayne

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Posted by BigDaddy on Saturday, July 3, 2021 2:36 PM

Another idea

They also had different ideas of what was attractive advertising

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, July 16, 2021 8:34 PM

OP here, original post modified. As model railroader Jeff Foxworthy used to say:

"Here's your sign"

Not a ghost sign at the time the picture was taken  1920's

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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Posted by gmpullman on Friday, July 16, 2021 8:59 PM

One of the contributors to Flickr that I follow has quite a few photos posted of advertizing signs that may be helpful to modelers:

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/23711298@N07/albums

 

Worth a look for inspiration and ideas.

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by DSchmitt on Friday, July 16, 2021 9:06 PM

gmpullman

One of the contributors to Flickr that I follow has quite a few photos posted of advertizing signs that may be helpful to modelers:

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/23711298@N07/albums

 

Worth a look for inspiration and ideas.

Good Luck, Ed

 

WOW! Impressive site.  Also lots of railroad subjects. and ideas for modeling. Thanks for the link.

I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

I don't have a leg to stand on.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, July 16, 2021 9:07 PM

gmpullman
https://www.flickr.com/photos/23711298@N07/albums

Thanks Ed,   A huge number of signs!  You just can't find a good Hide and Fur store anymore.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, July 17, 2021 9:20 AM

Can someone find a picture of the Palisades (facing New York and Yonkers) covered with advertising signs?  I have seen pictures but can't now locate one on the Internet.  That was perhaps the ultimate 'billboard experience' in its day; to my knowledge there are no obvious remnants but modern technology might easily reveal 'ghost traces'...

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Saturday, July 17, 2021 3:35 PM

I looked all though this and couldn't find a thing.

https://www.njpalisades.org/

Some interesting stuff there, but no billboards.

Since the Palisades Interstate Park was established in 1909 if there were any billboards there they must be long gone.

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, July 17, 2021 6:11 PM

Huge libraries of Tomcat's signs are available free on the Internet!  I can't post links off this phone but only a little Googling should find them.

One of the all-time great labor-of-love resources in modeling!

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, July 17, 2021 6:15 PM

Wayne, it was much more fun than billboards.  Imagine the 1872 equivalent of supergraphics.  I suspect the same ingenuity that built the elevated railroads in New York so fast was involved in laying out and painting some of the resulting graphics on the rock face-- hundreds of feet high with good kerning... Wink

I agree that after the Rockefellers bought all the old estates there'd be no more profit from leasing out the 'front yard' as it were, but I don't think there was an active effort to steam-clean the rock... on the other hand, that outfit could manage it neatly at that point out of revenues accruing too fast to invest otherwise.  A couple of years later it would start to be wrecked but not yet...

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, July 19, 2021 4:26 PM

Where'd those painted signs on the Palisades go?  Well, rock quarrying was being done at least as far north as the present day Alpine Boat basin, so they may have disappeared courtesy of the quarrymen.

Or considering the lack of durability of the paints of the 1870's they might have just weathered away.  I'd be interested in seeing photos of those signs myself!

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