During World War I, the U.S. government, contractors, and advertisers alike printed large quantities of posters in order to deliver a variety of propaganda messages to the general public. Because they were printed in large numbers, vintage war posters can be more affordable than you might expect.
Even though the United States would not enter World War I until 1917, the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915 prompted artist Fred Spear to create one of the most famous posters of that era. Titled "Enlist," the color lithograph features a mother cradling her child as both sink into the briny deeps—the call to action, ENLIST, is rendered on the poster in large, blocky letters.
Two years later, with the nation fully engaged in the European conflict, artist James Montgomery Flagg riffed on a famous British war-recruitment poster of the day to create his "I Want You For U.S. Army" poster. More than four million copies of the iconic image were reproduced during World War I alone, ensuring Flagg’s place in history as the creator of, and model for, the most famous likeness of Uncle Sam.
Another type of vintage World War I recruiting poster featured appeals to women, such as Edward Penfield’s "Yes sir, I am here!" which shows an earnest young woman standing at attention, saluting, and reporting for duty in the Motor Corps of America. The Christy Girl posters, named for their illustrator, Howard Chandler Christy, used smiling, mildly provocative women clad in men’s uniforms to encourage men to enlist in the Navy and Marines.
The vintage war posters of World War II expanded the appeals of patriotism and service to country. Posters encouraged Americans to plant Victory Gardens, to conserve fuel by walking to the store, and to buy war bonds ("Give War Bonds for Christmas" instructs a simple green-and-red, holly-leaf-decorated poster from the U.S. Government Printing Office).
J. Howard Miller’s "We Can Do It!" is perhaps the most famous vintage poster from that period. Published by Westinghouse, it features an illustration of a young female factory worker wearing a red-and-white polka dot headscarf and rolling up the sleeve of her blue work shirt. The woman in the poster is often referred as Rosie the Riveter, but the image was actually taken from a wire-service photograph of a 17-year-old named Geraldine Hoff.
Another category of World War II poster was unabashedly ideological and unapologetically tough in its depiction of the enemy. Karl Koehler and Victor Ancona won an award for thei...
If the Germans were depicted as evil madmen, the Japanese were portrayed as bucktoothed and inhuman drones. Flagg updated his World War I recruitment poster to create a hatless, muscular Uncle Sam, wrench in hand, with the words "JAP… You’re Next!" above his head. And Douglas Aircraft Company produced numerous unflattering caricatures of the Japanese to encourage its employees to conserve materials, lest they play into the hands of the enemy.
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Much to See at Reading Public Museum in Septemberbctv.org, August 29th
Five exhibits will be on display at the museum this fall including Marilyn: Celebrating an American Icon, Call to Duty: World War Posters, The American President: Photographs from the Archives of the Associated Press, Deadly Medicine: Creating the...Read more
Anti-war posters on display at 'Voice of Peace' exhibitionKyiv Post, August 22nd
The result of the call, 100 anti-war posters from 45 countries are on display at the "Voice of Peace" exhibition in the Hudgraph gallery in Kyiv through Sept. 1. “On the 10th day after the call we already had 150 posters and we organized a street art...Read more
Russian First World War postersDesign Week, August 20th
An exhibition at London gallery GRAD will examine the artistic legacy of the First World War in Russia and look at posters created throughout the conflict – from propaganda to Futurist. Unknown+artist%2c+Moscow+Artists+for+the+Russian+. Unknown artist ...Read more
Anti-war ideas put up as postersDeccan Chronicle, August 13th
THRISSUR: The magical mantra 'Loka Samastha Sugino Bhavanthu' reverberated when the children of BVB, Akamala, Wadakanchery as well as the students of Salsabeel Central School, Mundur commemorated Nagasaki and Hiroshima day as anti-war day...Read more
Bellevue man unveils rare WW I postersBellevue Reporter, August 13th
Hood's war posters came into play after the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. Large rallies were held to sell War Bonds, enlist young men to fight and ask for help. Posters designed by well-known artists like Norman Rockwell were ...Read more
Monterey's Classic Car Week: A strong market for vintage postersMonterey County Herald, August 9th
"And it's a place, if you're a serious collector, this is where you want to go." Singer collects what he calls "pre-war" posters, those printed between 1895 and 1950, and early Porsche posters. Values for posters in good condition from these years are...Read more
WW1 in pictures: Poster women of World War OneTelegraph.co.uk, August 4th
From the iconic, to the inspiring, to the controversial, posters issued during the First World War remain some of the most recognised symbols of the conflict. Women were a vital tool in Britain's wartime imagery, appearing in government posters all...Read more
Exhibit captures the poster art of World War IMonroe News Star, August 3rd
Taylor Devers and Jeremy Hammontree work in a storage area on war posters the upcoming Enlist! Art Goes to War (1914-1918) Exhibition 1 August 2014 through Nov. 11, 2018 at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport. / JIM HUDELSON/GANNETT ...Read more