Minor British Institutions: Keep Calm and Carry On

Careless Talk Costs Lives: Keep mum, she's not so dumb“Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases”; “Dig for Victory”; “Keep Mum”. All still famous. But it is odd that the most currently ubiquitous of the Second World War’s propaganda slogans, “Keep Calm and Carry On”, was never officially adopted.

Some two million copies of it were printed, but they remained in storage throughout the war, presumably because the British stayed, mostly, calm throughout.

A few years ago, one of the old posters was rediscovered by a bookseller from Northumberland, and the rest is (new) history. At least one marketing company has seized on the striking design as a motto for our own troubled times, slapping it on to posters, bags, deckchairs, cufflinks and, most appropriately, mugs for the sort of hot sweet tea the WRVS used to hand out at bomb sites.

The sans-serif typeface and minimalist crown logo are a masterpiece of modernism. Sadly, the patriot who came up with the idea remains anonymous, buried in the tomb of the unknown spin doctor.

Original Article: Independent

By Second World War Posters

Mass Communications Academic, @MMUBS. British Home Front Propaganda posters as researched for a PhD completed 2004. In 1997, unwittingly wrote the first history of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which she now follows with interest.

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