Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ghost Sign

After a devastating fire that completely destroyed the 3 buildings that comprised Bowman's Sporting Goods Store in Patton, PA in November 2008, a piece of advertising art that had been hidden from sight for over 75 years has come to light. Unfortunately this discovery may soon pass from sight once again in the near future. I tried to do a little research on this find but some of Patton's history is not well documented.

There aren't a whole lot of ways to photograph something like this so I divided the 12 x 24 foot wall painting up into small frames so that you could get to see some of the art details. The ad is for Wrigley's P.K. gum and goes back to 1923.

This is what remained of the sporting good store after the fire in November 2008.

When the ATF, state fire marshall and the insurance company were done with their investigation of the blaze, the clean-up of the area was begun and this picture of early Patton history was revealed. Largely still intact after the fire and clean-up the sign is still in amazing condition. However, several parts of the work is damaged or possibly missing. The words "After Every Meal" are just barely readable under the yellow line at the top left hand side. The yellow border with it's black outline is approximately 8-3/4" wide. According to my research a merchant's name might have also been painted on the wall as payment or incentive to allow the ad to be placed.

I'm not sure what this P-450 means. It could have something to do with the pattern used to do the layout. If I'm wrong, someone will let me know. The number is on the left hand side of the art, next to the red arrow.

The body of the man is red and approximately 30 inches wide.

Most of the letters measure 4" wide, including the border.

Close-up of some of the text.

This is the word LASTS.

The bottom of the P is 11-3/4" wide.

It looks like there were several layers of paint on signs done on the wall.

Paint Scales.

Back in the days of the wall dogs, as the sign painters were called, they would mix their own paint on site by mixing white lead, linseed oil, pigment and dryers.

Thos. Cusack Co. was started in 1875 by Thomas Cusack and incorporated in 1903. The Cusack Company went on to control 20% of all outdoor advertising and with several branches across America, Mr. Cusack would go on to serve in the 56th Congress as a representative from the state of Illinois and later, after moving to the Buffalo, NY area, he went into banking.

Built in the 1920s the former McCrory's 5&10 is now the Ti-De Laundry located on Magee Avenue in Patton, PA. The owners have told me this wall will be steam cleaned in the next 90 days by order of the insurance company.


oZ said...

Cool !

Anonymous said...

sir on your third picture i believe that to be an R not a P, If you look closely you can see wight paint that's mixed with paint that flaked off,and the black discoloration could have been soot from the fire.This of coarse is my opinion but try searching for the meaning with R before the numbers to see if anything is found, I can also say you do very fine work I like what I see