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Ghost type: borated talcum toilet powder

ghost type near harper's ferry, west virginia

I’m not sure how the advertiser managed to put this copy on a nearly sheer cliff high above the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

Much as I wanted to think they were promoting baking powder, considering the location’s unfortunate history I figured this was probably an ad for gunpowder or blasting powder (some of the words almost come into focus for me and then fade away). But to my surprise, now that I have internet I read that it was in fact an ad for “”Mennen’s Borated Talcum Toilet Powder.

The typeface is a little compressed and has a stencil quality. According to the National Park Service, it dates from 1903-1906. I guess it’s probably a little older than the ghost type from Baltimore that I posted a while ago.

The cliff with the sign is just to the left of the area shown in this image:

shenandoah river near harper's ferry, west virginia




Poor, poorer, porous


Big columns at the National Building Museum, Washington, DC

1 Comment

  1. I’ve been walking through the Mission and Chinatown, trying to take photos of those “ghost” signs. I love them for their urban beauty but even more for what they tell us of the history of the place. Unfortunately, I need a better camera; mine does not have a telephoto lens and a lot of my photos don’t do justice to the combination of bricks, paint and patina.

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