Extremely Rare & Original WW2 Home Front Poster, “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution” c.1939
An extremely rare and highly sought after World War Two British information poster issued by The Ministry of Information c.1939.
Almost as soon as war began the Government launched a £44,000 poster campaign designed, according to Mass Observation, “to win the nation’s heart”. 800,000 copies of “Your Courage” were printed to be exhibited on commercial poster sites and hoardings throughout the country. Smaller versions with the same wording were found in railway stations, shop and bank windows, the front of buses and in newsagents. As Mass Observation put it “the vivid red splash permeated Britain, a counterblast to the black-out drabness.”
The “Your Courage Your Cheerfulness” poster was produced as part of a series of three “Home Publicity” posters (the others read “Keep Calm and Carry On” and “Freedom Is in Peril / Defend It With All Your Might”). Each poster showed the slogan under a representation of a “Tudor Crown” (a symbol of the state). They were intended to be distributed to strengthen morale in the event of a wartime disaster, such as mass bombing of major cities using high explosives and poison gas, which was widely expected within hours of an outbreak of war.
A career civil servant named A.P. Waterfield came 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”.
The Ministry of Information publicity campaign was cancelled in October 1939 following criticism of its cost and impact. Many people claimed not to have seen the posters; while those who did see them regarded them as patronising and divisive. The “Your” and “Us” distinction was disliked, while many people thought “Resolution” was something you only made at New Year.
Design historian Susannah Walker regards the campaign as “a resounding failure” and reflective of a misjudgement by upper-class civil servants of the mood of the people.
Good original examples of these iconic posters are very seldom offered for sale on the open market. Consequently, the Your Courage Your Cheerfulness poster for sale offers a unique opportunity to acquire a real piece of history and modern contemporary art.