A book about London ghostsigns

Back in May 2008, Sam Roberts, another fan of faded ads painted onto walls, contacted me with an idea to collaborate on a book about the old painted signs that cling to the walls above our busy modern streets. 'Ghosts signs' or 'ghostsigns' hint at a bygone past, depicting local traders and services, products and potions, as well as brands that are still going strong today, albeit advertised in a different style. The signs were hand-painted by talented men who were proficient at climbing up and balancing on tall ladders (no scaffolding or hard hats back then!) whilst deftly using a paintbrush and paint.
Sam had seen my my website Jane's London and my vast collection of photos on Flickr, snapped during my extensive wanderings around London, and he thought that we'd be the perfect fit. We were both of the opinion that this would make a fabulous book. Sam was to be the wordsmith and I was to be the photographer, plus, with my graphic design and typography skills, I was well-placed to produce the artwork for print, thus saving on costs and keeping control of the look and feel. We planned for a print date of June 2010.

A square format was agreed and two months later I had produced a basic flexible grid and pulled together some initial spreads (above) that we hoped would tempt the publishers. Many of the reference elements shown in these layouts, such as the yellow tin, are my own personal items having sourced physical examples of product-related ephemera.
The project was put on hold when Sam went to Cambodia for a couple of years although we almost secured a publishing deal in 2011. When Sam returned to the UK we were both too busy on other projects to properly return to the idea. It will happen soon but more likely as a self-published title. In the meantime, I plan to produce some books of my own to tie in with my website – little 80pp books, each a collection on a subject (bootscrapers, coal hole covers, ghostsigns with pictures, ghostsigns of traders, doorway mosaics etc). And I continue to take photos of old signs when I spot them, but my Flickr photo account is now not for public viewing – I instead use it as a personal archive.

UPDATE: Since 2018, I have been leading guided walks about ghostsigns in various London areas from Shoreditch to Soho. I also offer online talks on the subject via Zoom. See for more info.

UPDATE November 2021 – Sam never got back to me. He instead produced a book in conjunction with someone else. I am disappointed to say the least. The design and layout is confusing and hard to navigate as regards using the book for reference. Nevertheless I wrote a positive review of it here.