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Ghost signs, ghost ads & other phantoms

Young’s Stetson Hats – Clearance Center – 139 Nassau Street, NYC

© Vincenzo Aiosa

This venue is closed.

Since 1959, this hole-in-the-wall hat shop has been topping the pates of the New York City man. From elderly immigrants stuck in a fashion time warp to the hip-hop entrepreneur looking for that perfect lid, Hat Corner customers are as eclectic as the offerings on display at this quintessential hat shop. Newsboys, ivy leagues, newyorkers, berets, ascots, boaters, westerns, Bogarts, Indiana Jones fedoras, ball caps and visors from a plethora of brands such as Kangol, Capas, and Selentinio sit neatly arranged in veneered, wall-to-wall cubby-holes above an ancient parquet floor. The place feels like it has been around for a hundred years, and it has, in one form or another, since a hat shop called Truly Yours occupied this space circa 1890. The sales staff reflects the polarity of its customer base and knows both its hats and its chapeau history. Bring in your old topper for expert restoration or to find a new hatband to match a suit—or a throwback jersey.

Enlarged – Lost City

Enlarged & rotated – Lost City

Lost City Blog

I found this matchbook the other day. It was remarkable enough in that it was a matchbook for a hat store, not a bar or restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. But the address, 139 Nassau, corner of Beekman, rang a bell. Seemed to me I remembered a hat store being on that corner. – Lost City – http://lostnewyorkcity.blogspot.com/2012/05/truly-yours-best-hats.html

New Paltz Savings Bank Revisited – Lonny Behar

© Lonny Behar

Tip Top Cereal Co – formerly 2515 Canal Road – Cleveland, OH – Kathi Waite & Joshua Kudlaty

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Vincenzo on Vespa © Frank H. Jump

Vincenzo on Vespa © Frank H. Jump

© Vincenzo Aiosa

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump


Several years ago, you posted a picture of my father’s “shop” Pump and Ice Machine, Inc, in Cleveland Ohio. My son Joshua Kudlaty drove by there Sunday [as they] were headed to a Cleveland Indians game, and decided to stop by and see “Grandpa’s shop.” Property is now out of the family, and it looks like may be headed for the wrecking ball. sigh. Yes, fading.  Place is now abandoned. Sigh. But he got this picture -the back view. I thought you might like to see it. – Kathi Waite

Previously posted on FAB


If it is really your last fading ad blog post, i will be very sad.

However, it seems appropriate. I have been thinking of you a great deal this past week. I discovered your blog and your world from a picture you posted of my father’s shop several years ago. Pump and Ice Machine Inc. It was located on Canal road in Cleveland, Ohio. Well, a week ago, my son made a very sad discovery.

This is the last picture we have of our dad’s beloved machine shop. It appears to have been demolished a day or two the photo was taken.

I felt i needed to share it with you.
Good Luck in whatever you do. I will miss your blog a great deal.

Flint Mi
Ultimate II

© Joshua Kudlaty

Dear Kathleen-

Although I’ve been toying with the idea of throwing in the towel, I thought I would post an April Fool’s Day posting and see what happened. I’ve not been posting as obsessively as I had in the past. After a decade, I’m re-evaluating, self-examining and basically existentially questioning where to go from here. Thank you for sending me this pic. Sorry the building was demolished but I’m surprised it took so long since the last update. I’m posting your pic tonight.

Keep in touch and all the best to you and your family,

Frank H. Jump

This is the last post for Fading Ad Blog

Thank you everyone. It has been really real.

Vintage Coca-Cola Ad in Aarhus, Denmark – Dr. Andrew Irving PLUS! Recent Cryptic Coca-Cola Advertising in Denmark

© Dr. Andrew Irving

Refreshes Them Best © Dr. Andrew Irving

Altered © Vissevasse.dk

Ad of the Day: This Coca-Cola Campaign Can Be Deciphered Only by Color-Blind People
Ishihara image is cryptic to everyone else By David Gianatasio|December 23, 2015 © Adweek

Can you connect the dots?

Ad agency Essencius recently launched a teaser campaign in Denmark touting stevia- and cane-sugar-sweetened Coca-Cola Life, but only about 5 percent of the population could actually see the message.

That’s because the copy was “hidden” in an image that looked liked blobs of greenish-brown bubbles to most viewers. (Technically, they’re called reverse Ishihara images.) Color-blind people, however, saw the word “Life” nestled within the design.

“Our idea is based on the premise of engaging many by targeting the few,” explains Essencius managing partner Brian Orland. “Surprising people and getting them curious about the hidden message in the campaign has had a great impact on the engagement rate.”

The images appeared in digital ads, social media, outdoor installations and at department-store sampling sessions. According to the agency, the unorthodox approach generated substantial earned media, reaching more than 17 percent of the Danish population between 10 and 60 years old. – Adweek

Seely Shoulder Shapes – Excerpt from Fading Ads of New York City (History Press, 2011)

JPG of full frame hi-res scan TIFF © Frank H. Jump

Excerpt from Fading Ads of New York City (History Press, 2011)

Seely Shoulder Shapes
Incorporated from November 17, 1953 through December 15, 1959.

According to the Manhattan Ghost Signs Digital Collection , an attractively designed new website created by Queens College Graduates Otto Luna and Dana Rubin to catalogue the fading ads of the Garment District (using the extensive photo-archive of Walter Grutchfield), Seely Shoulder Shapes was originally called Seely Shoulder Pad Corp., located at 263/5 W. 40th St. from 1945 until 1956. Shoulder shapes or pads are still produced today for the fashion industry, but no longer at this address.

In a New York Times article in which I was featured and provided the front page image, David W. Dunlap stated the following about the fate of this sign: “Another vintage sign that is not destined to last much longer trumpets Seely Shoulder Shapes, a garment business from the 1950’s. Painted byArtkraft Strauss, which is still in operation, the mural is at 265 West 40th Street, on the site where The New York Times is planning its new headquarters.” After the New-York Historical show came down, I tried to sell the collection. One of my benefactors is the lovely Tama Starr, President of the Artkraft-Strauss outdoor advertising company whom I had the pleasure of spending an hour or more talking about the sign painting industry. Starr was very encouraging of the campaign and gave me a copy of her seminal book about advertising Signs & Wonders, The Spectacular Marketing of America.

In Starr’s book, she speaks primarily on the illuminated sign industry although she does touch upon the origins of advertising and the innate ability of humans to create signs and symbols. In a section she calls “From Cave Artists to Wall Dogs,” Starr addresses questions about which I’ve always speculated, like what was the first advertisement and who invented the wall ad? Starr writes:

The story of outdoor advertising traditionally begins with the first symbolic marketers, the cave dwellers during the Upper Paleolithic period, starting about 40,000 years ago. At Lascaux, France, and elsewhere, elaborate action murals depicting a variety of animals and lively hunting scenes portray the dynamic relationship between hunters and the migratory beasts who represented fundamental economic forces: food and clothing, the entire constellation of blessings that Nature could either bestow or withhold.

Anthropologists identify these Stone Age rendering – the first wall-mounted messages – as the earliest examples of both art and writing. They speculate that, like modern media, the messages were intended to influence as well as reflect the viewer’s life. Like advertisements, they depict dreams fulfilled – the animals rushing into the hunters’ traps – and urge specific, concrete action – Hunt! Be hunted! – on both parties to the economic transaction.

All known cultures use signs, in one form or another, to convey straightforward messages with immediacy. Anthropologist Ashley Montagu defines a sign as a “concrete denoter” with an inherent, specific meaning: “This is it; do something about it!” He points out the essentially human character of signs by noting that while many types of animals respond to signals – interruptions in an energy field for the purpose of communicating – only a few intelligent and highly trained animals can understand even the simplest signs.

History’s first known poster bulletin was a notice of a reward for a runaway slave posted on a wall in the Egyptian city of Thebes more than 3,000 years ago. Egyptian merchants of the same periods chiseled sales messages into tall, square stone obelisks and roadside stone tablets called stelae, and painted them in bright colors to attract the attention of passersby.

In Pompeii, billboard-like walls covered with advertisements were preserved in the lava that engulfed them when Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. Excavations there have revealed wall messages on the shady side of the marketplace too, offering enticing invitations along the lines of “For a Good Time, See Cora.” And even earlier, in ancient Greece, innovative practitioners of what may arguably be the world’s second-oldest profession (symbol-making being necessarily precedent) expanded their out-of-home client base by carving the message “ΕΠΟϒ ΜΟΙ,” “Follow Me,” in the bottoms of their leather sandals, leaving an impression in the clay pavement as well as in the imaginations of potential customers. The connection between the two ancient occupations was not limited to amateurs, however. Modern visitors to Kuşadasi in Turkey are shown magnificent Byzantine mosaics that once served as on-premises business signs for houses of pleasure.

The Romans brought the use of whitewashed walls with painted ads on them on their conquests throughout Europe. They also developed artful on-premise business signs specially designed for the illiterate, such as a friendly-looking bush denoting a tavern. Some ancient trade symbols – such as the three golden balls of the pawnshop, the giant key of the locksmith, the big shoe of the shoemaker, and the red and white stripes of the barber – have remained in use for a thousand years and more.

Tama Starr loved the image of Seely Shoulder Shapes and bought it. As I signed the photo for her she signed her book for me:

Frank Jump! It’s always a good sign to meet a new friend. Best wishes always, Tama Starr 7/14/00

I believe this image still hangs in Tama Starr’s office.

Gold Dust Twins – Tornado Reveals a Racist Remnant in Advertising – Atlanta, GA

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In April 2008, a tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta. Damage totaled around half a billion dollars. One life was lost. Amid the destruction came the resurrection of an early 20th century billboard—a caricature of coal-black, wide eyed, tutu-wearing twins, happily scrubbing dishes. The two were the Gold Dust Twins, the nationally recognized trademark for Gold Dust Washing Powder, a household cleaning product whose popularity soared with the antics of the cheerful, degraded duo.

The advertisement is painted on the exterior east wall of a vacant, three-story brick building at 229 Auburn Avenue.1 The structure was once the local office of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, founded in 1905 by Alonzo Herndon, one of the wealthiest African Americans in the South at the time. For more than eighty years the Gold Dust advertisement remained hidden from view, obstructed by the neighboring Herndon Office Building, completed in 1926. When the tornado-damaged Herndon Building was demolished in 2008, the advertisement came to light, raising difficult questions of race and culture—and more pressing, what to do with the twins now that they were back. Velma Maia Thomas, Scholar Blogs – Emory University (July 27, 2015)

Who are the Gold Dust Twins?

The Gold Dust Twins were advertising icons for a soap company called N. K. Fairbank, created to sell its Gold Dust Washing Powder.

According to Marilyn Kern-Foxworth, author of “Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus: Blacks in Advertising, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” the Gold Dust Twins were around starting in about 1887, but they really took off after their appearance at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. 

Tornado Uncovers Disturbing, Nearly Century-Old Ad On Auburn Avenue
By Stephannie Stokes • Jan 21, 2015 – WABE (NPR), Atlanta (see and hear more with a podcast) – http://news.wabe.org/post/tornado-uncovers-disturbing-nearly-century-old-ad-auburn-avenue

Harry’s Department Store Revisited – Excerpts from The Fading Ads of NYC (History Press, 2011)

As seen in The Fading Ads of New York City (History Press, 2011) © Frank H. Jump

Harry’s Department Store/Aufrecht Insurance & Real Estate
“It’s Harry’s Department Store for the Greatest Values” Graham & Metropolitan Avenues

I’ve spent more time staring at this image in particular than almost any other sign I’ve documented. It is not for any other reason than the four foot by six foot reproduction that hung at the WAH Center Exhibition in 2000 hangs in my office in my country home. I’ve often wondered who the man on the left was and where the large woman with the teal colored sweat suit was going. At first, I didn’t even realize there was a man on the left since the slide positive was scanned initially in the cardboard frame in which it is housed, which cuts almost a millimeter of information from the image, thus cropping it slightly. When the positive was removed from the cardboard sleeve to be scanned for this large-scale reproduction, suddenly the man in the short-sleeved polo shirt and grey slacks appeared.

Department store owner, Harry also has been a mystery to me. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of Harry’s Department Store in any of the online archives I’ve searched. Kevin Walsh conveniently provided a link to the wedding announcement of Jacob M. Aufrecht that was scanned and uploaded by Tom Tryniski, in an extensive online archive he calls Old Fulton NY Post Cards. Normally this wedding announcement, which states the usual familial and temporal information would seem quite unremarkable:

Berger – Aufrecht

Miss Elise Berger, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Emanuel Berger of 660 West 180th st., Manhattan, and Jacob M. Aufrecht, son of Mr. and Mrs. Marcus Aufrecht of 551 East 53d st., Brooklyn, will be married at the Hotel Astor on Sunday evening Oct 27, by Rabbi Alexander Lyons of the Eighth Avenue Temple.

The bride will be attended by Miss Helen Welkersheimer. Max Abrams of Brooklyn will be the best man. Following a motor trip to Canada, the couple will reside at 551 East 53d st., Flatbush. Miss Berger is a graduate of Columbia University. Mr. Aufrecht is engaged in the real estate business. – The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sunday October 10, 1929

Totally mundane in its details, this wedding announcement would never have struck a chord until I noticed the date that the bride and groom were to be wed. The Thursday afternoon before their wedding is known as Black Thursday (Black Friday in Europe due to the time difference). The Monday & Tuesday after their wedding are remembered as “Black” days as well. One could only wonder if the newlyweds ever went on their Canadian road-trip after a nuptial weekend that landed smack in the middle of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, precipitating the Great Depression. As I write this on a similar weekend, Standard & Poors downgraded the United States was from a Triple A to an AA+ credit rating. Life goes on. Doesn’t it? – Taken from The Fading Ads of NYC (History Press, 2011) © Frank H. Jump

Yes. Life does go on. Obama saved our asses. Let’s watch Trump drill them back into the ground.

Above is the remnant building of Jacob M. Aufrecht on 286 Graham Avenue © Frank H. Jump

Fulton History Archive

JPEG from original hi-res scanned full-frame TIFF © Frank H. Jump

Fading Ad Blog Celebrates A Decade of Blogging!

M. Rappoport’s Music Store – Jamaica Avenue, Queens – taken August, 1997 – “4109 Jamaica Ave. near Woodhaven Ave.” © Frank H. Jump, Fading Ads of NYC (History Press, 2011)

Since I launched this blog in March of 2007 as an assignment for my second Masters program in Instructional Technology (initially as an addendum to my Fading Ad Campaign website which launched in February 1999), I didn’t expect to have continued blogging for ten years. Granted, I have shifted from a compulsive daily photo blogger to an occasional poster. Much of this relaxed posting schedule was a result of Enzo and I selling our home last June in Flatbush and moving into an apartment. Also, the daily stress of being a care-giver to two aging parents while balancing a career and a fulfilling marriage has also become a challenge. I have refrained from posting with frequency the political content as I have in the past, while other formats like Twitter and Instagram have also diverted some of my attention from the blog – although all of my social media activity can be viewed on FAB.

After my first Internet presence started getting noticed in February 1999, blogs soon became the rage. Now, the proliferation of Tumblr is starting to wane while other social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter have continued to flourish. Still looking forward to future collaborations with other urban documentarians here at FAB and your insightful and supportive comments are always welcomed.

Forty Years Ago Today: 1977 Hanafi Siege – March 9, 1977 – Otis & Marlena – Joni Mitchell

Otis & Marlena – Joni Mitchell – Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, Asylum 1977

Marlena under Foster Grants
She’s undercover from the dawns advance
That girl is travel drained
And the neon mercury vapor stained
Miami sky
It’s red as meat
It’s a cheap pink rose
Otis in the driver’s seat
Watches the street lights fade away
On louvered blocks in green sea air
In fluorescent fossil yards
Slippers are shuffling into folding chairs
Freckled hands are shuffling cards

They’ve come for sun and fun
While Muslims stick up Washington *

Otis empties out the trunk
On the steps of that celebrated dump
Sleazing by the sea
Bow down to her royal travesty
In her ballrooms heads of state
In her bedrooms rented girls
Always the grand parades of cellulite
Jiggling to her golden pools
Through flock and cupid colonnades
They jiggle into surgery
Hopefully beneath the blade
They dream of golden beauty

They’ve come for sun and fun
While Muslims stick up Washington

Marlena white as stretcher sheet
Watches it all from her tenth floor balcony
Like it’s her opera box
All those Pagliacci summer frocks
Otis is fiddling with the TV dial
All he gets are cartoons and reruns
She taps her glass with an emery file
Watching three rings in the sun
The golden dive the fatted flake
And sizzle in the mink oil
It’s all a dream
She has awake
Checked into Miami Royal
Where they’ve come for sun and fun
While Muslims hold up Washington
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on
Dream on

© 1977; Crazy Crow Music

Joni Mitchell appears on the cover of Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, 1977 – disguised as a black man © Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell appears on the cover of Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, 1977 disguised as a black man © Joni Mitchell


On March 9, 1977, seven members of Khaalis’ group burst into the headquarters of B’nai B’rith, a few miles south of Khaalis’ headquarters, and took over 100 hostages. Less than an hour later, three men entered the Islamic Center of Washington, and took eleven hostages. At 2:20 pm, two Hanafis entered the District Building, three blocks from the White House. They went to the fifth floor looking for important people to take hostage. When an elevator opened the hostage-takers thought they were under assault and fired, killing Maurice Williams, a reporter for WHUR-FM radio, and injuring security guard Mack Cantrell. Then-councilman Marion Barry was struck by a ricochet in the chest, and two others were wounded. “Throughout the siege Khaalis denounced the Jewish judge who had presided at the trial of his family’s killers. ‘The Jews control the courts and the press,'” he repeatedly charged. – Wikipedia