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figure 1


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spacer photograph of brick wall with Mail Pouch Tobacco sign painted on it
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wall dog. One who paints large signs on the walls of buildings.reference 1

You still see hand-painted signs these days, but on a much smaller scale than in past days, say on a shop window. In the olden days however, say in the time that my father used to hand-letter signs, it was the wall dogs who did the deed. These days, large wall art is either done by graffiti artists or in the form of large pre-printed commercial signs. The former artists have other designations. No doubt, those who apply the vinyl have their nicknames. Those large painted advertisements are signs of a different time. Perhaps the most pervasive of these old painted signs were the ones for Mail Pouch Tobacco, which were painted on the sides of many buildings, largely on rural barns through Appalachia and the Midwest for over a century.reference 2 Like so many things that were once union made, the few who produce this kind of work in the twenty-first century are more artist than tradesman.reference 3

1. Lighter, Jonathan. 2005. Re: Wall Dogs (the Men Who Put up Advertising on Walls). American Dialect Society Mailing List. American Dialect Society. Accessed Jun 2 2008 from http:// cgi-bin/ wa? A2= ind0506A&L= ADS-L&P= R7620&I=-3&m= 49756.

2. Wikipedia contributors. 2008. Mail Pouch Tobacco Barn. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Accessed Jun 2 2008 from http:// wiki/ Mail_Pouch_Tobacco_Barn.

3. Kurutz, Steven. 2006. For a Faded Tradition, a Fresh New Coat. New York Times, Oct 22. Accessed Jun 2 2008 2006 from http:// 2006/ 10/ 22/ nyregion/ thecity/ 22sign.html?.

About the illustration: Figure 1 shows a wall dog. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.

Figure 2 is a hand painted sign on the Sutton Theater in Sutton, West Virginia. The image is taken by Jarekt who has made it available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license.

  Last updated: June 6, 2008
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