I bet those billiard tables were Ace…

I have always loved old things. Whether it was the jewelry and black and white photos on my grandmother’s dressing table, the clothes and ephemera I would find rummaging around my local op shop or the vivid musicals and wonderful black and white movies I used to watch as a child; I have always found there to be something very alluring about the physical things we have to remind us of bygone eras. Fitzroy Bushells Tea Speaks I like that vintage clothes have had a former life, hung in other people’s cupboards in other houses in other homes elsewhere in the world. My wedding dress was a handmade dress from the 1950’s with the classic boat neck and full circle skirt. I love to envisage the previous owner’s mum, aunty or sister sewing this dress with love and care for a bride’s special day or a Saturday night dance at the local hall. It was stained and obviously well worn when I found it online and I like to imagine it was a treasured possession of the former wearer. Fitzroy Johnstons Its wear and tear tells a story. It reflects the journey it has taken and reminds me that life for generations of people went on before me and in a very different way to how we experience it now or how it will be experienced for generations to come. Degradation shows the passage of time and is a reflection of how everything is transient. Life, people, things and ideas… it all changes over time. The fascination and respect I hold for vintage items and the lifestyles of those who came before me influences my taste in design too and, working in marketing, I have always been drawn to the advertising of previous eras. I love finding a brown-tinged large-format Women’s Weekly while poking around in a country antique store filled with advertisements for Berlei corsets from the early 1950’s or a baking powder tin with a happy housewife emblazoned on all sides. Fitzroy Ace Billiard Tables But while I had appreciated so many forms of older advertising I had never really looked up and really noticed how very special and unique was the hand painted signs, building signs and occasional rare vintage neon signs that still haunt our city streets. I stumbled upon my first vintage sign quite by accident in the streets of Fitzroy, where I used to live. I had a young baby and, like many new mums, had done my fair share of ‘pounding the pavement’ in an attempt to get the little one to sleep and it was on just such an occasion that I came across the ACE BILLIARD TABLES sign. I may have audibly gasped or said ‘wow!”. Fortunately with a young one, mothers are mostly forgiven for seemingly talking to ourselves – either because we are known to be outrageously tired (and somewhat delirious) or because it is deemed sweet and nurturing to be talking to our babies – even if they are asleep! Regardless, I stood for a moment and took in the simple font and bold colouring of the ‘ghost sign’ – a term in sign hunter circles used to describe a faded hand-painted sign – and thought I MUST take a picture! It was a photo that would start a passion and a growing collection of photos of vintage signs from in and around Melbourne. FITZROY Fitzroy Pure Velvet Soap It is difficult to date ghost signs so, for the most part, I will not attempt to. Some are better preserved than others, not because of age, but due to positioning, exposure to the elements or attempts to preserve them. Occasionally a sign may have spent years hidden; protected by other newer signage or building developments that, once demolished or removed, reveal beautifully preserved hand-painted signage in almost perfect condition. All hold a special ability to take us back to another time and have an important story to tell of a suburb’s commercial, industrial, creative and consumer history. Fitzroy Johnstons Furniture The signs captured below are a selection of favourite ghost signs and building signs from the streets of Fitzroy. Fitzroy is considered Melbourne’s first suburb, named after Sir Charles Fitz Roy who was Governor of New South Wales from 1846-55. The large area between Melbourne and Alexandra Parade, originally known as ‘Newtown’, was renamed Fitzroy when it was eventually subdivided into vacant lots to be made available for sale. Fitzroy has an enduring, proud association with the working class and is currently inhabited by a wide variety of ethnicities and socio-economic groups. The ghostsigns left by the suburb’s previous occupants are a rich reminder of Fitzroy’s long history and gives cause for reflection and consideration of what future transformation the area might see over the next 100 years. Have I missed any gems you’ve seen in Fitzroy? Let me know in the comments below… Fitzroy Builders Arms Hotel Fitzroy Cromarty's Fitzroy Federal Trolley & Truck Co. Fitzroy G. Cain Electrical Contractor Fitzroy Patersons PPLFitzroy St Leonards Cycle Fitzroy Winfield Fitzroy Ansons Chemist   Fitzroy Anderson & Ritchie Pty Ltd


13 responses to “I bet those billiard tables were Ace…

    • Thank you! Yes it would be great to find out more about the brands that are no longer in circulation… I love seeing the old ads for Bushells and other brands we still have today too! So interesting to be able to see the way they used to promote brands 50+ years ago…


  1. Thank you for creating this blog. It makes me think about the activities that have gone on in these buildings over so many years and how today’s signs will look in 70 or more years. Will their ghosts still be there?


    • I’ve thought the same thing Valerie! Somehow I don’t think the cheaper quality manufacturing of many signs combined with the intense redevelopment of many inner city areas will enable many of today’s signs to live on very long at all…


  2. Gorgeous pics Astrid. I love vintage signs as well and never knew there was a term for the old faded ones. Consider me a fellow lover of ghost signs. Chapel street is rife with them, I’ll try and get you some pics. 🙂


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