"Keep Calm and Carry On" August to September, 1939 29.5 x 19.5 in (75 x 50 cm)

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Lot 94
"Keep Calm and Carry On"
London: HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE (HMSO), August to September, 1939
29.5 x 19.5 in (75 x 50 cm)

Sold for US$ 18,750 inc. premium
"Keep Calm and Carry On"
London: HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE (HMSO), August to September, 1939
White on red ground, on paper, with George VI crown above, designed by the MOI and HMSO, and printed in preparation for a civilian poster campaign in the event of invasion or aerial bombardment of England.

The Keep Calm poster has, over the past 15 years, become the classic poster of Wartime Britain. Stories of how many survive are convoluted. This is a median format sized example while most of the ones that have surfaced thus far have been the smaller window pane small sized versions. The story starts as early as April 1939 before the Declaration of War in September, when the Ministry of Information (MOI)started forming a policy on posters to be issued in times of National crisis. The MOI and HMSO, co-operating together had designers put together designs between June and July 1939, the aim to produce simple designs for posters to help the population at the time of forthcoming national crisis, and to create a morale boosting poster campaign for the general public. The competition for the designs ended in 3 chosen designs, and printing of these posters started on 23 August 1939. "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will bring us Victory" and "Freedom is in Peril" were both printed in their millions and released to be put on buildings, public notice boards, stations etc, even 50 sheet versions were put on large billboards. The Keep Calm poster was held back for times of severe stress, perhaps an invasion, a bombing campaign. It is said that 2.5m Keep Calm posters were printed between August and September 1939, but here was some fuss in government and in the press about the content and style of the campaign, and the Keep Calm posters were not officially released and put in store. It is said the stock was pulped in April 1940 as part of a paper salvage campaign, but we know that a few were put out on the streets and are photographed in situ, and we know of examples in the Imperial War Museum London and in the British National Archives. Barter Books in Alnwick in 2000 found an example of the median size poster, and 15 small sized ones were found Cupar, Fife Scotland, from the family of a veteran of the Royal Observer Corps.This is a median sized example, a few of which, we know from photographs, were put up in public places in late 1939. This example is unused and comes from a small cache of 5 posters that surfaced in the West of England in 2014.
29.5 x 19.5 in (75 x 50 cm)
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