Art Friday:War propaganda posters

Have you all seen these posters - they appear on everything these days from tea-towels to mugs?  Do you know its history? They were designed by the British Government (Ministry of Information) in 1939 as motivational posters but never used. In fear that the Germans would invade Britain, post officers around the country were given these posters to hang on their walls if the invasion ever occurred. Basically don't panic if the Germans arrive! When this didn't happen in September 1940 as expected, most posters were destroyed which is why there are very few original posters left.

Only the other day when I was watching the BBC programme Antique Roadshow, a woman brought 15 original "Keep Calm" posters to be evaluated, much to the surprise of the Antique Roadshow team. Below are 2 other posters from the series. (source)

Love this one - we could have more of this today instead of everyone complaining.  Bring back cheerfulness I say!!

Below are a few other examples of propaganda posters from World War I and II - I have selected those aimed at women encouraging them to do their part during war time.  World War I was the first opportunity for women to undertake paid work on mass and to do their bit for the war effect. Women loved this freedom from the home and many choose to continue to work after the war, particularly women from middle to upper class homes who were well educated. 
Maybe in this age of doing more with less we should bring back this poster!

I can just imagine poster designers working during the war, coming up with new ideas as so many were made. These posters have now been replaced by the government TV commercial that we see today.
This is from the USA - something we should refer to these days as well!


  1. That is interesting. I didn't know that about those top style of posters. Had no clue where the design came from, though, like you say it's all over stuff these days.

    Some of the others are interesting too. The "make due and mend" and "grown your own, can your own" would both be good ideas today too. :-)

  2. I had no idea where those top ones originated from! And I agree with you - some of those would be really useful today still. :)


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