Tracey Thorne, a PhD Typography researcher at Birmingham City University, draws attention to historical ghost-signs dotted all around Birmingham – the remains of painted advertisements that can still be faintly seen on many Victorian and Edwardian buildings throughout the city.

ghostPhil Banting, Twitter

The signs can usually be found at the front or gable end of a building, though some have been painted over old signs which can make them hard to distinguish.

Tracey says: “Before neon and vinyl signs were used, businesses would employ sign-writers to produce their signs. You wouldn’t have been able to walk down a street in Birmingham without seeing them in the 19thCentury”. She has worked with the Birmingham Conservation Trust to map images of ghost-signs across the West Midlands to preserve and capture the history of the advertisements and signs as an insight into their way of life.


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