Friday, 11 July 2014

The power of the paper poster

Today, one of only three surviving 'BRITONS - Lord Kitchener Wants You' First World War recruitment posters has been sold. A London collector paid a record £27,540 in an online sale by Dorset-based auction house Onslows. The incredibly rare poster has become one of the most iconic images of the First World War, although apparently only 10,000 were actually produced which is far less than many other WW1 recruitment posters. Only three original posters are known to survive; one in the Imperial War Museum in London, one in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, and this one.
The powerful image started off life as the front cover of a September 1914 edition of magazine 'London Opinion' (a popular weekly magazine with a circulation of 300,000 copies) which had commissioned graphic artist, Alfred Leete, to design and illustrate the cover. In response to requests for reproductions, the magazine offered postcard-sized copies for sale. The Parliamentary Recruiting Committee obtained permission to use the design in poster form and the rest, as they say, is history....

Interestingly, author and historian James Taylor published his book only last year called 'Your Country Needs You' disputing that these posters were ever even used ( in a similar vein to the eponymous 'Keep Calm and Carry on' posters from WW2)

I had a quick look on the auctioneers website (Onslows) and was rather more impressed by the design of this striking poster below.
This is a poster promoting an exhibition of war pictures by CRW Nevinson, the official artist on the Western Front. It's an original lithograph poster 1918 760x 510mm, although I don't believe the designer is credited. Unfortunately it's not for sale.
Posted by Justin Hobson 11.07.2014

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