Keep Calm and Carry On
November 19, 2008 5:42 PM   Subscribe

In 1939, King George VI commissioned the Ministry of Information to produce three posters designed to reassure and prepare the British nation for an inevitable war. The posters were designed not so much to deliver any specific instruction, but rather to suggest an attitude - from King to country - towards the unknown. Stiff upper lip, old boy. KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.

YOUR COURAGE, YOUR CHEERFULNESS, YOUR RESOLUTION, WILL BRING US VICTORY

FREEDOM IS IN PERIL, DEFEND IT WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

This extract from a PhD thesis outlines in more historic detail the concept, execution and reception of the three posters.
posted by 6am (38 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
If like me the Keep Calm poster makes you proud verging on tears to be British (in a good way, not a BNP sort of way), you might be interested in this skydrive folder I put up. I hope that doesn't count as a 'personal project'...
posted by 6am at 5:44 PM on November 19, 2008


I cannot begin to tell you how badly I want to visit "The British Library of secondhand bookshops."
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:53 PM on November 19, 2008


The posters were required to be uniform in style and were to feature a 'special and handsome' typeface making them difficult for the enemy to counterfeit.

RELAXEN
UND
WATSCHEN
DER
BLINKENLICHT.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:54 PM on November 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


If you want your very own Keep Calm And Carry On poster, Barter Books are selling reproductions, as mentioned. I just ordered one for my office.
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:58 PM on November 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


We have one in our newsroom, in Virginia. Always makes me happy to see it.

I'd assumed it had to do with the Blitz, but that's for posting the backstory.
posted by thecaddy at 6:07 PM on November 19, 2008


I totally need a Keep Calm and Carry On poster. With the word "Nurse!" stuck on the bottom.
posted by GuyZero at 6:09 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


NICHT
FÜR DER
GEFINGERPOKEN
UND
MITTENGRABEN
posted by GuyZero at 6:10 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I ordered one from Barter too a while back - made a Tshirt from the EPS on my skydrive too. Everyone I know is getting the poster for christmas...
posted by 6am at 6:12 PM on November 19, 2008


Shopping?
posted by 6am at 6:13 PM on November 19, 2008


If you've had quite enough of this keeping calm and carrying on business, have we got the shirt for you.
posted by elfgirl at 6:17 PM on November 19, 2008 [12 favorites]


That's fucking class, elfgirl...I may have to make a purchase.
posted by 6am at 6:19 PM on November 19, 2008


Bring It On

Dead Or Alive

With Us or Against Us

Slightly different tone, same bullshit propaganda.
posted by Balisong at 6:30 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Keep Calm and Carry On poster have been seen regularly in shops around my way (in Australia) and I was putting off getting one until I moved to the UK (I have a few poster reproductions of WWII propaganda in my office already.) Now thanks to elfgirl I think I might just get the t-shirt she linked to instead.
posted by Megami at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2008


Keep Calm and Carry On poster have been seen regularly in shops around my way (in Australia) and I was putting off getting one until I moved to the UK (I have a few poster reproductions of WWII propaganda in my office already.) Now thanks to elfgirl I think I might just get the t-shirt she linked to instead.
posted by Megami at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2008


Well, I couldn't help myself and bought two. Definitely best of the web, not so good for my pocketbook.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:07 PM on November 19, 2008


I HAVE EATEN THE PLUMS
that were in
THE ICEBOX
and which
YOU WERE PROBABLY
saving
FOR BREAKFAST
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 7:12 PM on November 19, 2008 [10 favorites]


Slightly different tone, same bullshit propaganda.
posted by Balisong at 6:30 PM on November 19


they were being attacked by nazis good lord
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:13 PM on November 19, 2008 [31 favorites]


Bring It On

Dead Or Alive

With Us or Against Us

Slightly different tone, same bullshit propaganda.


Except the ones you've quoted are either about attacking people or being aggressive while this is a poster about being moderate while being attacked. Way different propaganda in my book.
posted by meech at 7:14 PM on November 19, 2008


I kinda prefer

When in trouble
Or in doubt
Run in circles
Scream and shout
posted by dilettante at 7:17 PM on November 19, 2008 [6 favorites]


The posters were required to be uniform in style and were to feature a 'special and handsome' typeface making them difficult for the enemy to counterfeit.

So, how coincidental is it that it closely resembles the Obama poster font?

I have never seen these before, and I'm not British, but they definitely sum up my overall impression of British fortitude during WWII. I was moved to tears once watching one of those historic films showing a cheerful milkman whistling his way through blitz-bombed London's heaps of smoking rubble. Delivering the milk.
posted by Miko at 7:20 PM on November 19, 2008


The contemporary update doesn't really manage the same tone.
posted by Abiezer at 7:22 PM on November 19, 2008


Typophile discussion - consensus is that it's pretty close to Obama's Gotham.
posted by Miko at 7:23 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


tis very like gotham, save for the arrrr.
posted by 6am at 7:43 PM on November 19, 2008


My, what a very British poster.
posted by aacheson at 7:47 PM on November 19, 2008


Here in the PNW, we KEEP CLAM.
posted by black8 at 7:47 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does anybody else find it weird that there are Department of Homeland Secuirty billboards placed in cities advising us to be ready for impending disaster?

seems to have the opposite effect.

sigh
posted by captainsohler at 8:15 PM on November 19, 2008


the 1962 version -

KEEP CALM

PUT YOUR HEAD

BETWEEN YOUR KNEES

AND KISS YOUR ARSE GOODBYE
posted by pyramid termite at 8:41 PM on November 19, 2008


As seen in San Francisco in 2001 American, open for business

You still seem them from time to time in San Francisco, I always hear Fat Tony in my head saying "keep gaming..." when I do.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:59 PM on November 19, 2008


UND
VHAT
IST
WRONG
MIT
SCHMETTERLING?!

posted by Rhaomi at 10:20 PM on November 19, 2008


I have a Keep Calm and Carry On poster in my bedroom. I love it-- it's the first thing I see in the mornings once I've fought with the alarm clock. I also bought one for my mother for her birthday last year-- poster, not alarm clock.
posted by jokeefe at 10:50 PM on November 19, 2008


There's even a Keep Calm gallery these days. I prefer the mash-ups, such as this one created by this isn't happiness.
posted by jonathanbell at 3:41 AM on November 20, 2008


I'm not a cognitive scientist, but I'd have thought that printing the message KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON in BIG BOLD LETTERS on an ALARM RED BACKGROUND may be somewhat counterproductive.
posted by Skeptic at 4:48 AM on November 20, 2008


Your Courage
Your Cheerfulness
Your Resolution
Will Bring Us Victory
Burma Shave
posted by twine42 at 5:06 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I have a Keep Calm and Carry On poster in my kitchen.
posted by Dragonness at 7:01 AM on November 20, 2008


Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill did a variation on this for their League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier graphic novel, which featured the Ingsoc insignia instead of the crown.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:25 AM on November 20, 2008


In a freaky coincidence, I'm wearing my KC&CO t-shirt right now.
posted by Skyanth at 4:04 AM on November 21, 2008


Alas, the film career of the Keep Calm Gang was not nearly as successful as that of their counterparts.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:21 AM on November 22, 2008


LIE BACK
AND
THINK
OF
ENGLAND

posted by Sys Rq at 8:37 AM on November 22, 2008


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