An original copy of the poster – now a classic in the history of British propaganda – is offered for £750 at AntikBar’s 1918-2018 World War One Poster Exhibition, which runs from November 1-17.
The Parliamentary Recruiting Committee published the poster in 1915, a year before the introduction of compulsory conscription in Britain. It features the stout figure of John Bull wearing his distinctive Union Jack waistcoat and pointing out directly at the viewer. He serves as the personification of the perceived British, particularly English, values of honesty, directness and patriotism.
Unusually, it also shows solemn soldiers – rather than jolly recruits – lined up behind him in front of burning buildings, a rare allusion to actual combat.
The new, more urgent campaign also led to creation of posters featuring such direct slogans as Women of Britain Say Go (also included in the exhibition), which had a positive effect on recruitment. It is thought that the pressure on the individual to identify with the majority was ultimately more important than appealing to a sense of fighting for a just cause.
The exhibition at the King’s Road, Chelsea, gallery includes propaganda posters from the US, Germany and Russia and is held in recognition of the First World War’s centenary. Some proceeds from each sale made in November go to The Royal British Legion for their #ThankYou100 remembrance.