Owl Cigar Ghost Sign Blog

In Americana, Vintage Signs by Debbi FadliLeave a Comment

Owl Cigar Ghost Sign Blog

It seems to me, that ghost signs are kind of like the old cave drawings. While many of these ghost signs are still around in some towns, they are quickly disappearing. There are decades of history behind each one of these ghost signs especially this Owl Cigar Ghost Sign.

This Owl Cigar Ghost Sign was taken in Socorro, NM and was painted on the side of the brick building of the Knights of Pythias. On most of the Owl Cigar Co ghost signs you see they have Straiton & Storm painted within the sign. The Owl Cigar Co started out in 1880 as Straiton & Storm Segars (the spelling at the time). The company had a logo of three owls on a tree branch and it was called “My Eyes-Here’s the Owl Man”.

These guys manufactured over a million cigars a week. They had offices in New York on East 27th street and two smaller factories in Avenue A, they also had big tobacco plantations in Florida. In 1887, Straiton withdrew and in 1890, Storm sold the business to the Owl Cigar Company. The Owl Cigar Company may not exist anymore but, the signs stayed around like old cave drawing as a piece of our American history.

In most places you CAN NOT paint over these signs for that it is illegal to paint over history; for example, the boss of the road ghost sign in Sacramento, CA (it’s been there since the 1800s). A new business owner bought the building and thought ‘I don’t know what’ that he would modernize the area and paint over it with his business name. Well, the town stopped him and he got fined and had a month to come up with a plan on how to put the old painting back to the way it was.

Another example; the owl cigar sign in Aspen, CO (it’s been there since at least 1966) yet again a new business owner bought the building and started to demolish the building. All the old time townies wondering what about that piece of history on the side. Well, come to find out that wall with Owl Cigar Ghost Sign has been marked historic therefore he will demolish everything but that wall.

You know at one time I used to think or might have heard that the paint was different back then, that’s why you might see some ghost signs fading or chipping in spots, so get touched up to look fresh, some not. But lately I have learned from a popular sign painter, Gaard Moses that it’s not about the paint it’s about the brick. If you are painting on brick that has been low fired, such as Aspen used, the painting will fade quicker. If you use highly fired brick the painting will stay longer.

Until the next ghost sign story…….stay tuned to Roadside Gallery’s Blog page!