We spotted a ghost sign fragment the other day on the side of the Mt. Pleasant Bakery on Crane Street in our home city of Schenectady, New York. Figuring out what it was proved quite a puzzle.

The ghost is in a super-tight alley to the building’s right. At first glance, unimpressive.

The words ‘delicious’ and ‘delightful’ were clear enough. But the contrast on the body of the sign had faded to the point where the product being promoted was not clear even upon close inspection.

The alley is no more than 3′ wide, so it proved difficult to photograph. But we snuck in with a wide angle lens and shot 78 images, hoping we might piece this puzzle together.

After about 8 hours of intense Photoshop work the sign revealed itself. Schenectady’s only surviving Pepsi-Cola ghost. A real rarity. There aren’t many Pepsi’s from this period anywhere in the northeast.

Above: 1) the final assembled image in color; 2) a black and white version that, thanks to a few Photoshop filters, reveals some of the original Pepsi logo; and 3) a modified version with a period Pepsi logo superimposed over the original paint.

From this example, which we are guessing to be about 100 years old, it seems Pepsi wasn’t quite as strict with its brand standards as Coca-Cola. We had to do quite a bit of stretching and shaping to get the period Pepsi logo to more or less superimpose over the paint. Perhaps Pepsi didn’t supply its vendors with full-scale production templates as did Coke, which shipped pounce patterns to bottlers, who could then hire local painters to chalk and fill in the sign elements. When freshly painted it probably looked a bit like this.

In full, this ghost sign reads: “Delicious – Delightful – Pepsi:Cola – At Fount(s) – Also in Bottles.”

Though the contrast has dimmed, a surprising level of detail remains. For example, in the “C swoosh” that passes back under under the “EPSI” you can still read “Trade Mark Registered.”