Vintage Advertising: Old Advertising Signs on Buildings

Vintage Advertising: Old Advertising Signs on Buildings

Old Advertising Signs on Buildings

Old buildings in cities across America are filled with advertisements of the past. These faded-out old advertising signs are called ghost signs, ghost ads, dead signs or faded ads by historians, collectors and admirers. Once painstakingly painted or hung with pride on the sides of buildings as cheap advertisements, these flaking and fading signs now remind us of days gone by.

Here we present a mixed collection of old advertising signs shown when they were new in old photos as well as modern photos with the signs in all their faded glory. Enjoy and be sure to leave a comment if you see something you like.

Old Coca-Cola Ghost Sign

Ghost Ads - Delicious & Refreshing - Coca-Cola - Burlington, Iowa - 1904 Photo shows several old Coca-Cola ghost signs on a 1904 building in downtown Burlington, Iowa. “Delicious and Refreshing” and “Drink Coca-Cola” still legible, along with several other no longer readable advertisements. (Thomas / Flickr)

Frenchie’s Beer Garden & Bar

Frenchies Beer Garden & Bar - Old Advertising - Cotton Plantation Area - Melrose, LA - 1940 June, 1940 photo of Frenchie’s Beer Garden & Bar showing a mix of already old and several new advertising signs. The building was a cross roads store, bar, juke joint and gas station in the cotton plantation area of Melrose, Louisiana. Visible advertisements include: Coca-Cola, Jax Best Beer in Town, Regal Prince of Golden Beers, Whiskey, Hires Root Beer, Nehi Root Beer, Dental Snuff, Budweiser and others. (Marion Post Wolcott /

Cotton Business Signs – Memphis, Tennessee – ca1939

Old Signs on Office Building - Cotton Row - Front Street, Memphis, Tennessee Business advertising signs at entrance of a building at Cotton Row, Front Street in Memphis, Tennessee. A young man is seen inside the J.W. Dinkins Cotton Company. Other signs include: John Hopkins & Co., Phillips Cotton Co., Wilkinson & Carroll Cotton Co., and other cotton businesses. (

“Help Make Covington Safe” – Old Promotional Sign

Old Signs on Buildings - Help Make Covington Safe - Sept 1939 1939 photo from the parking lot of a Covington, Kentucky building. Painted sign promotes making Covington safe from work-place accidents. Advertisements include: American Legion, Kenton County Safety Council, and Heidelberg Brewing Co. / Student Prince Beer. (John Vachon /

Coca-Cola and Other Ghost Ads on Building in Pontotoc, Mississippi

Old Advertising Signs on Building in Pontotoc, Mississippi Old, faded ads on a building in Pontotoc, Mississippi. Signs include: Coca-Cola, Corner Gro., Barber’s Best, and other unreadable advertising. (Carol M Highsmith /

Electronic News & Advertising Sign – Times Square – 1944

People Watching Electronic News & Advertising Sign - Times Building Times Square New York - 1944 June 6, 1944 photo showing people watching the electrical news and advertising sign on the Times Building at Times Square – New York, New York. (

Peoples Petroleum Co. – 1922

5 Men Outside Building of Peoples Petroleum Co - ca1922 December 18, 1922 photo showing five men outside the Peoples Petroleum Co. of Pennsylvania with company advertising sign dated 1865. (

Dr. Pepper Advertising on Building in Texas

Old Signs - Dr Pepper Advertising Sign on Building Downtown Mount Pleasant, Texas This 2014 photo shows a building in downtown Mount Pleasant, Texas featuring a large, vintage Dr. Pepper advertisement (repainted) on the side of an antique store. (Carol M Highsmith /

1939 Photo of 1850 Building with Old Advertising Signs

Old Signs - Yamacraw Village - Fahn Street, West side, Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia Photo shows a row house that was turned into a business on Fahn Street, the West Side of Savannah (Chatham County), Georgia. The row houses in this area were torn down in 1940 to build the Yamacraw Village Housing projects. Visible advertising signs include: Royal Crown (RC) Cola, Coca-Cola, Orange Crush Soda, Nehi Root Beer, Swamp Root, Stanback, and advertisements for items from the business like Hot Lunch, Cigars, Hot Coffee, Candy, Tobacco and more. (Frances Benjamin Johnston /

Building Advertising – Alexandria, Virginia

Old Advertising on Buildings 500-532 King Street, Alexandria, Independent City, VA Old photo showing buildings of the 500-532 block of King Street, Alexandria, Independent City, Virginia. Photo looks to be from the late 1960s / early 1970s. Advertising signage includes: Haymans Department Store, Rembrandt’s Shoes, Shumans, a barber shop, an unreadable old neon sign and more. (

1850s California Gold Rush Store Advertising Signage

P. J. Espenscheid Store - Nevada City, California - ca1850-1859 P.J. Espensheid Store, Nevada City, California – ca1850-1859. Framed photo shows a shoe store with several men out front (most wearing white shirts, ties and jackets), a litter pile beside the store, and scattered papers and sticks on the ground. Advertising signage on the building includes: “P.J. Epenscheid Boots, Shoes & Rubbers,” “Fountain Head Shoe Store,” and “Boots Shoes Harness & Repairing.” There are also product images and a drawing of a person being fired from a cannon, which is actually a boot turned on its side. Espenscheid’s store provided goods and services for men seeking gold during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s. (

Business Advertising Signs

Old Signs - Advertising Signs at Entrance Fargo ND Building 1939 photo shows business advertising signage at side entrance to an office building in Fargo, North Dakota. Signs include: Fargo Gazette, Dr. Kaess, W.E. Black Insurance Farm Lands, C.R. Sweitzer Watchmaker and Jeweler, Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company, Dr. Littig Glasses Fitted, Foot Specialist Mme.Merlin, and Farmers Automobile Insurance. Partial neon sign is visible on front of building, possibly for the Fargo Gazette newspaper. (Arthur Rothstein /

Well Preserved Coca-Cola Ghost Sign

Ghost Sign - Petaluma's Choice - Drink Coca-Cola 2014 photo of a building in downtown Petaluma, California with a billboard-sized and well preserved Coca-Cola ghost sign. An old neon sign is shown on next-door building that says “Shops Lanmart.” (Mike Fernwood Flickr)

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April 20, 2018 / by / in

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