We were just remarking how difficult it is to obtain original printed propaganda from the Great War in good condition, when, lo and behold…
Spent the morning looking at two very interesting original colour lithographs at Aquila Books, here in Calgary. Both posters are for an exhibition we are co-curating with Mary-Beth Lavoilette for Lougheed House (Beaulieu) National Historic Site titled A Family at War: The Lougheeds, Calgary and the First World War.
Canadian War Bonds were first issued in November 1915, and later called Victory Bonds, they helped finance military operations in World War One. For each issue of Bond, a poster was produced urging citizens to buy them. For those who couldn’t afford to buy War Bonds, War Savings Certificates were available. Thrift Stamps, were directed at children, by accumulating stamps they could use them to buy Bonds.
First issue of the War Bond was at 5.5%. It was quickly oversubscribed, collecting $398 million (about $50 per capita). Second and third issues were available in 1918/19 bringing another $1.34 billion.
How Many War Bond Posters Were Produced?
This question is not easy to answer as print runs varied from only a few hundred to many thousands and, with no centralized authority being responsible for production, keeping track of numbers is an impossible task. It can be certain that hundreds of thousands were printed and found their way onto billboards, into store windows, factories, and essentially anywhere people gathered.
Printing of war propaganda posters meant a huge increase in business for major firms in Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal, as well as for graphic designers, who often remain anonymous and therefore are not credited for their creations.
All images Courtesy of Aquila Books