London: National Savings Committee, circa 1940. This is an original wartime British propaganda poster featuring a message from the Prime Minister exhorting both wartime thrift and the purchase of war bonds. This 20 x 15 inch poster (50.8 x 38.1 cm) features a striking orange background, on the upper portion of which is a head-and-bowtie photographic image of Winston Churchill beside the words, “MESSAGE from the PRIME MINISTER”. Below, on a simulation of Churchill’s 10 Downing Street Stationery bearing his signature, reads the message, “Our huge war expenditure can only in part be met from taxation; money from loans must therefore help to fill the gap. There is thus a double duty for every citizen, whether in private or in business life, of careful economy in expenditure and of lending the resulting savings to the State. One way of discharging this double duty is through the purchase of National War Bonds and I cordially wish the campaign every success.” At the bottom right of the poster is the publishing information, “Issued by the National Savings Committee London; Scottish Savings Committee, Edinburgh, Ulster Savings Committee, Belfast.” The lower left reads, “ W.F.P. 109 751-7895”.
The poster is float mounted on a black background behind UV filtering acrylic in a 24.5 x 19.5 inch (62.2 x 49.5 cm) black-stained wood frame with an orange-highlighted raised border complementing the hues of the poster. This poster is undated, but likely from late 1940. The text of the “message from the Prime Minister” reproduced in this poster appeared in newspapers on 30 September 1940 in support of a war bonds campaign. Condition is very good minus, with one vertical and three horizontal folds (plausibly from original mailing) and some light bruising to the paper at the extremities. The poster retains its vibrant orange color. This poster is a rare survivor; we locate only one other example at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
When Churchill became Prime Minister on 10 May 1940, the war for Britain was not so much a struggle for victory as a struggle to survive. Churchill’s first year in office saw, among other near-calamities, the Battle of the Atlantic, the fall of France, evacuation at Dunkirk, and the Battle of Britain, and the possibility of Nazi invasion of Britain was a genuine concern. One of the ways in which the nation faced the vast financial and material challenges of the war was issuance of war bonds. War Savings Certificates, or War Bonds, had been introduced during the First World War, when the National Savings Movement (NSM) was formed to encourage the people of Britain to “save and prosper”. The scheme saw massive growth during the Second world War, when the War Savings Campaign was set up by the War Office, which restructured and strengthened the committees extant from the NSM. Campaigns, announced with posters such as this, were established to raise money for airplanes, tanks, and munitions, and local volunteers were issued awards for their service. Item #005765