Monday, April 28, 2014

Ghost sign article in the Ballarat Courier, including a few words from yours truly

Here's the article, discussing ghost signs in the Victorian regional centre of Ballarat.

There's even a video!

Latest uncovering from suburban Melbourne - a Marmite sign from 1939-40

The other day, signwriter Tony Mead alerted a few of us to yet another fabulous building works uncovering, this time in Caulfield.

Here are my pics from this afternoon:

Tony comments that: "I can pretty much date that sign at 1939 -40. It seems to show the Australia Sanitarium Marmite jar which came out in a 4oz size in white “milk glass” with a paper label and tin screw top lid." Here's an old ad that Tony found:

"Maurice Marmite" is a yeast extract spread first made and sold in the UK in 1902. Our friend Maurice arrived in Australia and New Zealand in 1908, when the Sanitarium company obtained the rights and ended up manufacturing Marmite in New Zealand.

Marmite's competitor Down Under, the Australian icon Vegemite, was first produced in Melbourne in 1922. Wikipedia tells us that Vegemite experienced "growing competition" from Marmite from 1928 to 1935, with Vegemite temporarily changing its name to "Parwill". Why? To "make use of the advertising slogan 'Marmite but Parwill', a convoluted pun on the new name and that of its competitor", as in: "If Ma [mother] might... then Pa [father] will."

In the long run, though, the intense competition this ghost sign signifies was won by Vegemite, which is still made in Port Melbourne, and now "far outsells Marmite and other similar spreads in Australia". 

For some proper photos of the Marmite sign, see John Hunter's site:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The story of the Secret Agents: Melbourne's half-real, half-fake ghost sign

Just around the block from me is a building that always had me wondering. Here it is, taken through my car windscreen:

I had assumed it was a former real estate agent's shop, with some cheeky changes made. But the changes looked as old as the original sign.

A couple of days ago, I was driving past with a friend. He said he knows the guy who owns the building, the former PR guy for the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace boat. He'd hired a signwriter to create the 'Secret' in the same faded style as the rest of the ghost sign.

Nice one, and case officially closed :)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Revealed pub fascia in Moonee Ponds, courtesy of Tony

Tony (signwriter and sign painting historian) has sent through these pics of a newly revealed fascia from a pub in Moonee Ponds. Tony thinks it's a deliberate reveal:

Some beauties from Ballarat and surrounds, courtesy of Lisa

Here are some great pics sent to me by Lisa, a former resident of the great old Victorian gold mining centre of Ballarat (thanks Lisa!). First, Ballarat proper:


And now Dean, a small town near Ballarat:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Found: two more big Bushells Tea signs

Last couple of days I've been exploring some inner suburban areas, and in those travels I've found two more elaborate Bushells Tea signs.

The first one is in Abbotsford. It's near the Victoria Park footy stadium, metres from the small house studio where we recorded my former band Peachfuzz's first and third records in the early 1990s. Of course the signs would have been there then (and less faded) but I don't remember noticing them when we were loading our gear into the studio:

On the main wall of the building (obviously the one more exposed to the elements) there are  remnants of a larger Bushells sign. You can just make out the tea cup and the 'More Cups Finer Flavor' line:

The other Bushells sign is in South Melbourne, just near the ornate Victorian town hall and square. It's the whole side wall of a former grocery, and is pretty hard to see. The colours (silver, blue, yellow and green) are the same as the recently departed Bushells wall in Coburg: see

Friday, April 18, 2014

Three tailors

From my Good Friday ride today: one tailor ghost sign from Preston and one from South Melbourne, plus a more contemporary version around the corner from the second...