Mr. Peanut stands, white-gloved hand on shell-covered hip, in a fading ad painted on a brick building in Ridgewood.
At first glance, it seems like a wonderful remnant of a bygone era, perhaps from the 1930s, sure to stoke nostalgia among straphangers at the nearby Seneca Ave. subway station.
Frank Jump knows better.
The Queens-raised shutterbug, whose photos form the new book “Fading Ads of New York City,” is adept at tracking so-called “ghost signs” — and spotting the fakes.
Jump, who will sign his tome at the Queens Historical Society in Flushing on Jan. 26, pointed out a few problems with the Planters sign.
First, it faces the rising sun but still seems remarkably colorful. And Mr. Peanut doesn’t look as lanky as in other early Planters ads.
Conclusion: The ad probably dates back only to the 1980s, when it was created, some believe, for the movie “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”
No minutiae about such ads escapes Jump’s analysis.
His work is valuable to urban historians due to the fleeting nature of ads he photographed years ago. Many of the buildings on which they were painted have since been demolished.
“I’m just glad I caught some of them when I did,” said Jump, a Far Rockaway native who grew up in Belle Harbor, Laurelton and Howard Beach.
Jump began pitching a book on ghost signs after a 1998 exhibit of his photos at the New-York Historical Society garnered attention from literary agents.
Random House came close to offering a deal before a top executive shot down the project, Jump said. He eventually signed the contract for “Fading Ads of New York City” with the History Press.
The book provides insight into what drives Jump’s seemingly obsessive quest to document ghost signs.
When Jump was diagnosed at age 26 with AIDS, he became “acutely aware of himself as a body that might disappear,” anthropologist Andrew Irving wrote in the book’s foreword.
So Jump photographed ads that seemed, like himself, to be slowly fading.
Jump, who teaches technology at a public school in Flatbush, Brooklyn, snapped many signs in the book by climbing fences and walls.
The hardcover features a mix of fading ads across the city. Jump said he may compile another book devoted to Queens given the strong appeal of his work.
“It hits people on many different levels,” he said. “It has a broader audience than people who are just interested in New York.”