Vintage Posters Make Us SMARTER

October 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Original Vintage Poster "Atoms for Peace"

Original "Atoms for Peace" Poster by Erik Nitsche, 1955.


Posters sometimes elicit a strong reaction.

A beautiful image can make a client sigh, inadvertently. Clown posters actually
make some people jump out of their skin! WWI and WWII posters make some people
tear up.  Until recently, I had never had a poster that elicited a chill.

Check out the General Dynamics Posters by Erik Nitsche. These rare Swiss posters were printed in the 1950s, to make people comfortable with the forward science of nuclearpower.  Each poster says “Atoms for Peace”
in a different language.

Now if that isn’t propaganda, I don’t know what is.  And these Cold War era posters do elicit a chill.

Recently, we had a man in our shop who was fascinated with
the ‘Nucleo Dynamics poster. When he left the store, he dug a little

Original Poster "General Dynamics Nucleodynamics"

"Nucleodynamics" General Dynamics Poster by Erik Nitsche, circa 1955

deeper.  Here is what he told us:

“As I had suspected, the arrangement of squares is a chopped
up (and incomplete) chart of the nuclides, which is a representation of the
different isotopes of every element. (Like a periodic table for nuclear
physicists.) One axis is the atomic number of the atom and the other is
the atomic weight (allowing differentiation of carbon-12 and carbon-14, for
example, or uranium-235 and 238).

The top section is the light elements, with hydrogen on the left to about neon
on the right. The middle section is much heavier atoms, from (I think)
tin on the left to somewhere in the lanthanide elements on the right. The
bottom section is the heaviest and least stable elements (or at least the
heaviest known in 1955). This terminus represented the focus of a great
deal of research, especially in 1955.

One other thing I should mention is that the coloring is not incidental.
The light blue squares denote stable isotopes. The other colors are all
unstable and therefore radioactive isotopes. The particular color for
each one tells more information about either the type of decay or the
half-life.  Note that the heaviest elements (the bottom patch)
contain no stable (blue) isotopes.”

Original Atoms for Peace Poster 1955

Swiss Poster of Nuclear Sub by Erik Nitsche for General Dynamics, 1955

And this is why we love our clients. We share what we know about posters, and they

Original General Dynamics Poster

Atoms for Peace Poster by Erik Nitsche

share what they know about the world.  In
the end, we all end up enriched, a little smarter and a little more in touch
with history. Bravo!

Geek out with VEP at the next LA Trunk Show “Posters for
November 12-13, 2011 at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel


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