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Ghost signs, ghost ads & other phantoms

Photo-Stemmerman – David Blustein & Brother for Raw Furs & Ginseng – Chelsea, NYC

Taken on a Lemmy Caution Anthropological Stroll in August 2011 while writing the book, The Fading Ads of NYC (History Press, 2011) © Frank H. Jump

From the book Fading Ads of NYC (History Press, 2011) © Frank H. Jump 1997

It was not uncommon to see companies advertising constituent products for a final larger product as you see in signs for “coat fronts” and here for raw furs. It is surprising to see ginseng sold next to animal furs. I’ve often wondered about the history of this trade.

Not surprisingly, many of the things we traded came from China. Today, goods produced and bought from the Chinese are driving our whole consumer economy, which to some is a blessing and others a curse. American consumers enjoy lower prices for goods while American producers are literally digging for ginseng. What’s fascinating is it all began with furs and ginseng.

On the JSTOR Plant website, a bit of history and etymology of ginseng is offered: Ginseng enters the English and French vocabularies in the ages of exploration. In the French as early as 1750, in English in 1654, and for Portuguese, the term ginsao appeared even earlier (Holmes, 283). In Chinese, 人蔘 (phonetically rénshēn) is the name for ginseng and that roughly translates as “man root.” Even the Chinese character 人 is meant to look like a man with two legs. So there you have it. A little linguistic lesson for the day.

So, the ginseng trade has been well established for centuries and has turned a tidy profit for many, including that beacon of 19th century New York City life, John Jacob Astor. Astor was one of the more ambitious people ever to set foot on American soil. Astor, German by birth, landed in the United States in 1784 just at the end of the Revolutionary War, immediately established himself in the fur trade with Quebec, and became incredibly wealthy. Not being content relying on middlemen, Astor bought his own ship for sending his furs to London, learned of the East India Company trade with China, and immediately capitalized in the Chinese demand for furs. Hard to imagine that this woody root—once used as an aphrodisiac and currently used as a mild organic stimulant in alternative energy drinks, with claims to countless other benefits—was also the root of New York’s trade with China.

Apparently, George Washington had heard about the Chinese need for ginseng and learned there was a huge supply growing indigenously in North America. Since the only crop we could grow that would be valuable to the Chinese at the time was ginseng, which wasn’t being used widely in the United States, it became a valued U.S. export. On a Chinese cultural website, the following historical facts were provided: Ginseng helped promote the formation of the notion of international trade in the US. The entire country was connected to trade with China. Not only merchants in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, but isolated farmers in deep mountains had learned that they could be paid by something grown in the northern slope of the mountains. About the same time when the Empress of China unloaded the Ginseng at China, George Washington (1732–1799) met some people who were doing Ginseng business in Virginia. He recorded it in his diary, “I met numbers of Persons & Pack horses going in with Ginseng: & for salt & other articles at the Market Below.”

In today’s market, there is still a great demand for ginseng. Although our more lucrative exports lay in automobiles and other technology, China produces its own. In the American producer’s dig for a new ginseng, let’s hope the only commodity left to trade with China isn’t just our national debt. – Taken from the Fading Ads of New York City (History Press, 2011) © Frank H. Jump

Check out Walter Grutchfield’s website!

Sunlight Soap Repaint – E. Bailey Public Baths – Brighton, UK – Featured Fade, Daphne Hughes

© Daphne Hughes

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE – © Wikipedia Commons

Vintage Images UK

Other Unilever postings

Morristown Electrical Supply Co. – Morristown, NJ

Composite shot – © Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Uneeda Biscuit – Moglia’s Ice Cream – Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum – Morristown, NJ

Morris Street across from the train station © Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Google Books

Google Books – Free PDF

Google Search caption- Book unavailable

Morris Street across from the train station © Frank H. Jump

Moglia’s – The Ice Cream That’s Different – © Frank H. Jump

After Every Meal…Wrigley’s Spearmint Chewing Gum – The Flavor Lasts © Frank H. Jump

Duke University Digital Libraries – Atlantic City circa 1925

Duke University Digital Library – Screenshot

Duke University Photo Credits

The Notorious B.I.G. Mural – Queens Graffiti – August 2010 – Gaia Son

August 2010 © Gaia Son

Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), better known by his stage names The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie or Biggie Smalls, was an American rapper. – Wikipedia

Had he not been killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, Biggie would have been 42. Another great shot of this mural can be seen on Not A Queens Photo Blog [http://bit.ly/Z2X0Gq].

Louise Bourgeois’ Crouching Spider Sculpture – Gemeentemuseum – Den Haag, NL – Lowlands Correspondent, Gaia Son

© Gaia Son

Louise Joséphine Bourgeois (25 December 1911 – 31 May 2010) was a renowned French-American artist and sculptor, one of the most important artists in modern and contemporary art, and known for her spider structures which resulted in her being nicknamed the Spiderwoman. – Wikipedia

Den Haag Repaint – P. v. Osselen Automobielen Garage – Verhuur en reparatie van rijwielen en automobielen – Lowlands Correspondent, Gaia Son

Telephoon N° 661© Gaia Son

© Gaia Son

Verhuur en reparatie van rijwielen en automobielen – Rent and repair of bicycles (archaic) and automobiles © Gaia Son

I appreciate the efforts to restore these ads but I wish they would just leave them alone. Many are not nearly as aesthetically pleasing than the original fade (i.e. Philips, Harlingen NL).

Jacobs Garage – Dr. Jim’s Lofts – 3450 SE Alder – Portland, OR – Pacific NW Correspondent, Howie Schechter

© Howie Schechter

Notes from an Early Assistance Appointment held in 2012 (EA 12-120164) identified the building being constructed in 1919 as a warehouse and/or garage, with a 1961 variance (VZ 38-61) allowing the building to be occupied as a nonconforming printing plant and warehouse. – City of Portland, Oregon – Bureau of Development Services – Land Use Services – April 5, 2013

Blueprints from the proposal to convert the existing nonconforming warehouse structure on the site to four dwelling units. – City of Portland http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bds/article/442832

According to the developer, Dr. Jim:

The Dr. Jim’s Lofts imaginatively adapted a turn-of-the-century Standard Dairy building into four single-family lofts ranging from an airy 2-bedroom to a cavernous 4-bedroom. CHANGING PORTLAND 3000FT AT A TIME.

Koffie Rombouts – Antwerpen, BE – Lowlands Correspondent, Gaia Son

© Gaia Son

ANTWERP (Belgium). Bogie motor car type 7000 (1908-1975). With publicity of “Koffie Rombouts”. Postcard of VETRAMU/AMUTRA No. 39. Photo E. Keutgens. – The Traveler’s Drawer

© Gaia Son

Alles begint in Antwerpen, waar Frans Rombouts op een dag besluit een brandtrommel te huren om zijn eigen koffie te branden. – It all began in Antwerp, where Frans Rombouts decided one day to rent a coffee roasting drum to roast his own coffee. – Rombouts Website History

© Gaia Son

Luchthaven – Vliegveld Deurne – Antwerp International Airport – Belgium – Gaia Son

April 2005 © Gaia Son