‘Beanfeast’ by Sam Roberts

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‘Beanfeast’ by Sam Roberts

Roberts’ work photographing and researching the fading remains of advertising painted on walls (a.k.a. ghostsigns) often leads to interesting questions, such as ‘what is a beanfeast?’. The full text of this Highgate sign is ‘Catering for beanfeasts, parties & clubs’. Roberts goes on to explain that “However, beans in this case aren’t the baked variety, but the accounting type. A beanfeast is a party thrown by an employer if the end-of-year ‘bean counting’ has revealed a positive set of accounts. The modern equivalent would be the Christmas party and the deployment of ‘beans’ to pay for it.”


“When challenged to think of an interesting word arising from my ghostsigns research in London, this, and the painted sign, was the first that came to mind. It resonates at a number of levels, representing London as a centre of finance, but also as a centre of creativity. It provides a glimpse into London’s long history, both in terms of the evolution of language and the once widespread practice of advertising with paint on walls. As a native Londoner I’d also say it says something about our ability to throw a great party.”

Roberts came along to the studio with his photo and cut out an exact replica of the ‘Beanfeast’ ghostsign to stencil for Type Tasting with the London Design Festival

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Beanfeast Sam Roberts LR

Sam Roberts is a photographer, writer and researcher with a passion for hand-painted signs. This interest started in Stoke Newington, London, where he catalogued the fading remains of advertising painted onto buildings a.k.a. ‘Ghostsigns’. He has subsequently written numerous articles on the subject and, in early 2010, launched the History of Advertising Trust Ghostsigns Archive. This archive records, photographically, hundreds of examples of hand painted advertising on walls from across the UK and Ireland.

In September 2010 he moved to Cambodia to work alongside his wife with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). Based in the North Eastern town of Kratie, he dedicated his free time to recording the hand-painted signs he found there. This resulting in the publication of his first book, Hand-Painted Signs of Kratie.

Roberts’ passion for hand-painted signs continues and his wider research in this area can be followed on the Ghostsigns blog and via his @ghostsigns twitter feed.

Calicoes Diespeker

‘Beanfeast’ by Sam Roberts is one of the words that will be displayed at Type Tasting with the London Design Festival 2013 at the V&A.

Display: 14 – 19 September 2013
Drop in workshops: 10am – 5pm, 14 & 15 September 2013

London Design Festival Hub
Design Studio, Sackler Centre
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL

ldf at v&a  v&a

Type Tasting workshops and type safaris. Typography training with a creative twist.