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'Save Rubber' WWII Jeep poster, estimated at $250-$300 at Eldred's.

WWI and WWII US government posters arrive at Eldred’s May 23

HANOVER, MA — More than 40 World War I and World War II posters issued by the United States federal government will come to auction at Eldred’s on Thursday, May 23 as part of its Collectibles sale. The complete catalog is now available for review at LiveAuctioneers.

Before the advent of broadcasting in the 1920s, the printed word was the leading form of communication. Participation in and support for wars across the Atlantic required the US government to rely on advertisements — primarily in the form of broadsheet posters, typically printed in four colors — to catch the attention of the populace. The classic Uncle Sam ‘I Want You’ design is a hallmark of this genre, which focuses on recruitment and solicitation for the purchase of governmental war bonds, drawing revenue from taxpayers to fund the war effort.

The sale’s top-estimated poster is Vive La France, a 27 by 39in linen-backed design by James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960), who created the image of a pointing Uncle Sam on the aforementioned ‘I Want You’ poster. In this advertisement for an unknown American solidarity rally, American doughboys raise their ceremonial swords over a sword-wielding female figure who symbolizes France. It is estimated at $500-$1,000.

The governmental effort to coax women out of the home and into the workforce is best remembered through the Rosie the Riveter governmental propaganda posters of World War II, but the initiative had its origins in World War I. Every Girl Pulling for Victory is a design by Edward Penfield (1866-1925) for the United War Work Campaign, which began in 1918 with the armistice and sought to raise funds for the entertainment of American troops stationed in France to ensure the peace. Measuring 22 by 28in, the poster is estimated at $400-$600.

Resource scarcity and conservation were major propaganda themes in World War II. In Save Rubber Check Your Tires Now, commercial artist Walter Richards (1907-2006) admonishes the American citizenry “They’ve got more important places to go than you!” Then new, the Willys Jeep is a central focus, along with four GIs who Richards has oddly chosen to portray wearing World War I-era helmets. The 28 by 40in poster is estimated at $250-$300.

Continuing the push for women’s entry into the wartime economy is Enlist In A Proud Profession / Join the US Cadet Nurse Corps, a 28 by 20in poster itself created by a woman — Carolyn Moorhead Edmundson (1906-1992). Issued in 1944, late in the war, the artwork features a proud young woman sporting her military attire as she has earned “a lifetime education — free! (if you can qualify).” Its estimate is $100-$150.