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Keep Calm and Carry On
St. Louis, MO
About
Keep Calm and Carry On was a propaganda poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of World War II, but never used. It was rediscovered in 2000 and has been re-issued by a number of private sector companies. The poster was initially produced by the Ministry of Information in 1939 during the beginning of World War II, and was intended as a "last case scenario" to be used only should the Nazis succeed in invading Britain via Operation Sealion, in order to stiffen resolve. Two-and-a-half million copies were printed, although the poster was distributed only in limited numbers. The designer of the poster is not known. The poster was third in a series of three. The previous two posters from the series, "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory" (800,000 printed) and "Freedom is in Peril" (400,000 printed) were issued and used across the country for motivational purposes, as the Government assumed that the nerves of the public would be shot to pieces (they soon changed their tactics). Planning for the posters started in April 1939, by June designs were prepared, and by August 1939, they were on their way to the printers, to be placed up within 24 hours of the outbreak of war. The posters were designed to have a uniform device, be a design associated with the Ministry of Information, have a unique and recognisable typography, with a message from the King to his people (whereas it later notoriously became "the People's War"). The slogans were created by civil servants, with Waterfield coming up with "Your Courage" as "a rallying war-cry that will bring out the best in everyone of us and put us in an offensive mood at once". These particular posters were designed as "a statement of the duty of the individual citizen", un-pictorial, to be accompanied by more colloquial designs. The "Your Courage" poster was much more famous during the war, as it was the first to go up, very large, and was the first of the Ministry of Information's posters. The press, fearful of censorship, created a backlash, and thus a lot of material related to these posters has been kept by archives.
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