World War II Posters

Value (2014) | $5,500 Auction$7,750 Auction
Watch  

GUEST:
They've been in my closet for over 20 years. A gentleman gave them to my husband and I our first year of marriage. He was very active in the military, and he thought we might like to have them because we were hippies in the 70s and were talking about all the anti-war things that were going on and he made a present of these.

APPRAISER:
So happy hippie war wedding. Here's a handful of war posters.

GUEST:
You got it.

APPRAISER:
You brought in about 70.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And the thing about World War II posters, is that they were printed as propaganda. And as propaganda, they were printed in great numbers because you can't influence a nation's thinking by printing one poster and hanging it in Washington. You print hundreds of thousands and distribute them across the country. Within that great number, there are a handful of posters that are more artistic, rarer, or perhaps more important than others.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And I was looking through the 70 posters that you brought, and I singled out these four. Three of them are American, one of them is British. Of the three American ones, two of them are signed, by rather famous artists. The one on top, is Jean Carlu, who was in fact a French artist working in America during the second world war. Interesting to note, as a graphic designer, he only had one arm, and he was a very, very famous and very good designer. This was meant to be hung in factories. I mean it's just a single strong hand with a giant wrench turning a nut. The concept is the more weapons we can produce, the better we'll do in the war. The one on the bottom is also signed by a very famous artist, who's name you might recognize. That's Norman Rockwell.

GUEST:
Oh!

APPRAISER:
You told me you didn't think any of these were signed. This was also meant to hang in the factory. It says, "Let's give him enough and on time."

GUEST:
Whoa.

APPRAISER:
It shows a war weary machine gunner at the front lines. He's in the heat of the battle, and the idea is don't let him run out of ammunition when he needs it the most. This poster on top over here is also American, and this was designed to generate hostility against the enemy. And it's really hard to imagine an image that does that better than a swastika cuffed shirt, driving a dagger through the Bible.

GUEST:
Scary.

APPRAISER:
Good people don't do that. And the poster encapsulates that perfectly. On the bottom, we've got the one and only British poster. And if you know something about history, you know one of Winston Churchill's greatest speeches about the royal air force during the second world war was "Never was so much owed by so many to so few." Because the few members of the royal air force, basically helped win the Battle of Britain, and saved them--

GUEST:
I didn't know that.

APPRAISER:
From being over run by the Germans. Any idea on the happy hippie wedding value of these posters?

GUEST:
We have no idea.

APPRAISER:
These posters have come up for sale before, and they have very strong auction records. Starting at the top here, at auction, I would estimate this between $500 and $750.

GUEST:
Golly.

APPRAISER:
The British one, on it's own, between $1,500 and $2,000.

GUEST:
Are you serious?

APPRAISER:
The Norman Rockwell, $1,000 to $1,500. The Carlu, is, I think, the best of the lot. At auction, I would estimate that between $2,000 and $3,000.

GUEST:
Whoa.

APPRAISER:
It's a nice wedding gift. Makes you wanna change your hippie values and start loving war.

GUEST:
Or not.

APPRAISER:
Or not.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Appraised value (2014)
$5,500 Auction$7,750 Auction
Event
Richmond, VA (August 17, 2013)

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