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Monday, 20 April 2009

Keep Calm And Carry On...

keep calm and carry on Pictures, Images and Photos

You know this image, right? But can you guess where it came from? Clickie.

In the Spring of 1939, with war against Germany all but inevitable, the British Government's Ministry of Information (part of the Civil Service at that time, doncha know?), commissioned a series of propaganda posters to be distributed throughout the country at the onset of hostilities.

It was feared that in the early months of the war Britain would be subjected to gas attacks, heavy bombing raids and even invasion. The posters were intended to offer the public reassurance in the dark days which lay ahead.

Keep Calm & Carry On Pictures, Images and Photos

They featured a particular typeface to make them difficult for the enemy to counterfeit, and the poster conveyed a message directly from the Sovereign to his people, to calm and re-assure them... The idea was to encourage a fortitude, an attitude of mind... Because what frightens governments most of all at times of crisis is panic...

At the end of August 1939 three designs went into production with an overall print budget of £20,600 for five million posters.

The first poster, of which over a million were printed, carried a slogan suggested by a civil servant named Waterfield. He would have been called Mr Waterfield, because all senior Civil Servants were Misters in those days...

BluLima.etsy.com Pictures, Images and Photos

Using the crowns of George VI as the only graphic emblem, the stark red and white poster read 'Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory'. A similar poster, of which around 600,000 were issued, carried the slogan 'Freedom is in Peril'.

But the third design, of which over 2.5 million posters were printed, simply read 'Keep Calm and Carry On'.

The first two designs were distributed in September 1939 and were posted in shop windows, on railway platforms, and on advertising boards across the country. But the 'Keep Calm' posters were stored away, intended for use only in times of crisis...

Although some may have found their way onto the walls of certain Government Offices (*cough*), the poster was never officially issued and so remained virtually unseen by the public - Until a copy turned up more than fifty years later in a box of dusty old books bought at auction by Barter Books' second hand book-shop owners, Stuart and Mary Manley .

keep calm & carry on Pictures, Images and Photos

The couple liked the poster so much that they had it framed and placed near the cash register. It attracted so many enquiries that Stuart and Mary decided to print and sell a facsimile edition which became a best-seller, both in the shop and via the internet.

What does it say about us today, that we have our nostalgic thinking caps on, and we are tappy lappying on back to Times of War, when money was tight, food was not plentiful... and the cat was asleep on the bacon-slicer down at the corner Grocery Store, which sold bully beef in finger-torture tins, with sell-by dates on them that would frighten the Kaiser...

And thus we find that this poster design has once again shivered its long fingers down the quivering spine of our Zeitgeist, encouraging us never to give up, but to fight 'them' on the beaches, as Winnie asked of us, with the King informing us to... Keep Calm and Carry On...

keep calm and carry on red Pictures, Images and Photos

28 comments:

kapgaf said...

Ma chère FSI,
Aren't these the most wonderful words of advice for almost any circumstances and so quintessentially British, stiff upper lip and don't make a fuss.
The poster design is fabulous, simple and clear and I love the way the word "AND" is in smaller caps.

Jewels said...

Wow. This poster makes me feel slightly self-indulgent... and grateful I didn't have to live through that! Simple, lovely message though.

Sometimes the simplest things are the most effective.

Derrick said...

Hello Miss Fhina, (to give you your best civil service title).

Straight and to the point is always best! And very appropriate for our straitened times!

Michelle said...

WOW, that has been my mantra like forever!! See how we have so much in common that your reading my mind!!

WOO!!

How are you great lady??

Artist Unplugged said...

How interesting! I like the mantra of it. Hope you are well, just now getting back to the computer after a long weekend of volleyball. Can't catch up too much however, bits and pieces at a time. I am just now going to go back and read your previous posts and find out the answer as to what gets you riled up!!!!!

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Thank you Fhina, I needed to read those words today - and the history behind them I never knew. Hoping you are well xxx

Diane said...

I got one of the posters the last time I was in England. It serves as a good reminder, though I don't always put its orders into play! :(

blognut said...

I'm thinking that poster would be perfect hanging in my office. That's exactly the reminder I need sometimes.

Have a wonderful Monday, Fhina!

Bloggus
XO

ladyfi said...

Oh - I'd love a cushion just like the one in your photo!

I think the slogan speaks to us now because so many people are affected by the nasty things going on in the world and this is quiet reminder of stoicism...

Working mum said...

Lovely poster and interesting story. Definitely resonates with a lot of people. Amazing how those values are returning along with thrift and budgeting - things my mother taught me and now I thank her dearly!

Suldog said...

I only wish my own heads of state would be so wonderfully reassuring as that poster. I truly love your people. You have such a charming stoicism.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

great post Fhina! It reminds me of Abram games the guy who was also Mr Poster maker, at the least..I think l wrote a post during his exhibition at our museum...

http://fatfrumpyandfifty.blogspot.com/search?q=abram+games

take a peek

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Very interesting story and so appropriate for today. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This is to the point! Great post!

jenniferw said...

Good grief, that's wonderful! I love it! I want one! Thanks for that, Fhina!

I love it.

Vic said...

I love the background to these posters. I saw one just recently and loved it. Something about the typeface and the spacing works perfectly with the message.

Woman in a Window said...

What I wonder is how many will compare our time to theirs. Yes, we're in hard economic times right now, but nothing compared to world war II and for that we should be grateful. What a very cool and unusual post.

sallymandy said...

Really great post, Fhina! I loved learning this history. I can't see our government doing that. Maybe I can't see our government advising us to do anything so straightforward and honest as staying calm and carrying on.

Have a nice week, xo.

Clippy Mat said...

so interesting. I wondered what the origin was.
I guess I should make that my mantra now. I need that.
:-)

Belle said...

A sign for our times.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Very interesting post. Have seen those words in many places. Could do with a poster in my house!

CJ xx

carma said...

great slogan; great post!

Margo said...

I absolutely love this. I can hear the Queen saying this. I would love to have one to hang in my kitchen!

jinksy said...

Proves good advice never grows old!

Maternal Tales said...

So British! Stiff upper lip and all that. There are so many posters like this in shops in Brighton - I'm half-tempted to buy one myself. A friend has two mugs with it on. Thanks for all the background info. I shall be well-equipped to wow people with my new-found knowledge!!

Artist Unplugged said...

Hey Woman, me again, I concur with what makes you angry. I also do not like the latest fad of everyone has to be totally equal....no trophies for the winner, do not keep score, everyone plays or someone's feelings gets hurt, no valedictorians - someone may feel bad, basically, let's endorse mediocrity. Sorry, small rant. I would be fuming if my son was smoking but I know that it would be difficult to stop, though not for lack of trying, let's see, no truck, no extra money, etc. My mom died a painful death due to smoking, the sad, and wonderful thing was my brothers and I thought she had quit close to 20 years before and she was secretly still doing it at home. I know she did not want to be a poor example for her grandchildren and worry us. I can excuse older people who were unaware of the risks when they were young, she tried to quit a few times, my dad succeeded. Frankly, young people have no excuse. Good luck....will be praying that he wises up! Hang in there.....yeah, the game thing didn't work for me!

GB said...

Well you learn something new every day. There was a time when I would have put that on my office wall. But as I don't have an office any more....

A Woman Of No Importance said...

I am glad that you found some calm and some peace here, mes bloggy poster paints...

I found I loved this poster, with its traces of the old style Civil Service, and its wise words, to calm generations; To re-inforce that British Stiff Upper Lip! (It never moves - Tell me if you see it move!!! Except, I'm from the north with a mouth like a navvy's boot, so it is very expressive and wibbly, in fact... No stiff upperlippiness whatsoever!)

Still, this mantra is as important to us today as it was then... All things will change; This phase will pass; Peace will reign again; Don't panic, mes dahlinks...; Be safe, be well, be sound... Je t'embrasse tres fort... xxooxx

Kodjo Deynoo. said...

I have seen a few known faces on your comment box, keep the good faith

Something I wrote earlier...

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