Your Country Calls! Posters of the First World War

July 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

"Care for Her YWCA" by Adolph Treidler. Offset Lithograph c.1918

“Care for Her YWCA” by Adolph Treidler. Offset Lithograph c.1918

We love posters because they are beautiful. We also love posters because of the history they teach us. Nowhere is history better graphically explained than with the World War I poster. War was not a topic I was interested in school. It wasn’t until I first saw military posters that I began to find this time period interesting. When I realized that we would soon see the centennial of the outbreak of this war soon, I knew that it would be the very best time to call attention to these amazing posters.

 

Original WWI Poster. "Books Wanted" by Charles Buckles Falls 1918

Original WWI Poster. “Books Wanted” by Charles Buckles Falls 1918

Early in 2011 I contacted David Mihaly, Jay T. Last Curator of Graphic Arts and Social History at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California about creating a show based on my collection. I had thought about approaching other venues but had my heart set on the Huntington because of it’s reputation as a research institution. 

As it turned out, my proposal was not right for The Huntington because the posters were privately owned.  But the idea intrigued Mihaly, so he suggested a show based on the Library’s collection of World War I posters, and asked if I would consider consulting on object selection and preliminary research.

 

"Food Will WIn the War" by Charles E Chambers. c. 1917

“Food Will WIn the War” by Charles E Chambers. c. 1917. Original WWI Poster.

Of course! And I had no idea that the museum had posters in its archive, let alone World War I posters.  It was an amazing treat to be invited into the basement storage of this famed institution, where we picked through over 500 fragile posters on paper to select 50 for exhibition. Of that number there were at least 20 I had never seen before. Heaven.

“Your Country Calls!” will run from August 2nd to November 3rd. The dates roughly correspond with the declaration of war on July 28, 1914 and Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.  It will be held in the West Hall Gallery of the Library. Admission to this exhibit is included with paid admission to the grounds. 

I have learned a tremendous amount from this experience. Museums work at pace which is very different from dealers, everything is carefully considered, and carefully handled. It was a treat to work at this pace. My initial proposal included a book, but unfortunately, funds were not available for this. My thinking is that the war lasted 4 years, so perhaps in the coming 4 years, the second part of this dream will come to fruition.

American Library Association -Books Called For!

American Library Association -Books Called For!

This post was written by  Elizabeth Norris, Proprietor of Vintage European Posters

Our Shop is Open Tuesdays-Thursdays from 11-5 and select weekends.
2201 Fourth Street, Berkeley Corner of Allston Way

Please call 510 843 2201 or email vintage posters@vepca.com to confirm hours.

Visit our collection on the web at vepca.com

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