World War I posters are highly sought after by many collectors because of their unique qualities. World War I was the first conflict in which the illustrated color lithographic poster was used as a propaganda tool. Already well established in the world of commerce, travel and entertainment before the war, illustrated posters had proven the most effective means of advertising yet invented. During the war, the poster's accessibility and impact made it the single most important means of mass communication.
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World War I posters were used by all sides to evoke patriotism, sacrifice, and hatred of the enemy, but they were most successful in the United States where the creative energy of Madison Avenue admen was brought to bear. In scarcely two years, more than 2,500 designs and about 20 million posters persuaded Americans to abandon their isolationism and conduct a full-scale war against the Axis. World War I posters were used for every aspect of waging all-out war, from recruitment and fund raising to home front production, conservation, security and morale.
Today, World War I war posters from all combatants are a major category of poster collecting. This is undoubtedly due to the affordability, beauty and relevance of many of the images. Unfortunately, as nearly a century has passed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find these posters in good condition. Images that sold for $25 in the 1970s now sell for hundreds and occasionally thousands of dollars.
Penfield, Edward. Join the Garden Army, 1918 ca.
Bull, Charles Livingston. Eat More Fish, 1917 ca.