Post no bills

What’s the deal with this “Post no Bills” thing (generally if not universally disobeyed) you generally see on construction sites? Purely cosmetic? Legal reasons??

I haven’t seen that here in DC for a long time. Perhaps aimed at curbing graffiti, but I think most of the graffiti is skillfully done & looks much better than somebody spay painting P.N.B. thru a stencil.

In the old Mad Magazine, “post no bills” could frequently be seen plastered on many vertical surfaces… the joke was, the poster
violated its own purpose, much like “ignore this sign.”

Originally meant Post no handbills, posters or advertising.

“Post no bills” signs were never, as far as I know, placed on permanant structures (such as the side of a building). They were (and probably still are) stenciled on temporary barriers such as those that surround construction sites. Because they were temporary, bill hangers might also assume that they were disposable. If I put up a hand bill advertising an upcomming event, it is reasonable that the powers that be would want me to come back and take it down after the date of that event. By putting it on a temporary surface, I have the reasonable expectation that the expired hand bill will disappear without my help, thus saving myself a lot of work. Unfortunately these barriers are not disposable, but will be reused at another location, so some poor shlub at the construction company has to do it. It doesn’t take the shlub long to realize that a “post no bills” sign might save him a little labor in the future.

Au contraire, PB. I have seen many POST NO BILLS signs attached to, and stenciled onto permanent structures - most occur in the inner city, where the walls of an apartment building or like structure are exposed by a vacant lot, and become fair game for (supposedly) reputable advertisers and fly-by-night billboard companies alike. These people suppose, sometimes rightfully, that the owner (who is frequently happily ensconced in the suburbs sipping pina coladas or has simply abandoned the building) won’t complain - et viola, free advertising space. The fact of the matter is, placing advertising, handbills or otherwise, on a private structure without the owner’s express permission is illegal, at least in most major American cities. The “post no bills” sign serves the same purpose as a “no trespassing” sign serves anywhere - both practices are illegal, with or without the signs - but when going before a court of law, it helps an absent-to-the-crime property owner to be able to say “I TOLD them not to do it.”

Douglas Hofstadter reports in Metamagical Themas the case of a sign standing in a lonely field which read “$50 reward for information leading to the arrest and punishment of anyone removing this sign.”

The sign has long since disappeared.

Notice: “Bill Posters Will Be Prosecuted”

Graffiti: “Bill Posters Is Innocent”

It only hurts when I laugh.