Great American Posters .com

Classic Works of American Illustration

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Patriotic Posters from World War I.


We have carefully selected and restored posters that are wonderful works of art as well as urgent messages to the American People.

Please flip through the view book at right. You will find it delightful and very interesting.

Click on the view book at right to turn the pages.

Then click on the left page to page back through the book.

To purchase a poster, visit our
catalog page Beautifully printed posters from just $12.95 with free shipping.

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James Montgomery Flagg, pictured at left, was one of the best known artists called upon to help the war effort in 1916. He painted the famous Uncle Sam that was used in both world wars saying, "I want you for the U.S. Army." At right is the cover of the July 6, 1916 issue of Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper where the message is "What are YOU doing for preparedness?"

Preparedness for war was the issue of the day. Eleven other countries in 1915 had larger, more experienced armies than the U.S. However, Americans were divided over the need to build a strong military and intervene in Europe

As it became more and more inevitable the U.S. would have to join the war, the government would need to use its best powers of persuasion to get the American people behind the war effort.

At the same time, full-color lithographic printing had seen great improvements, and a number of companies were able to print colorful posters.
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A Call to Action

When a German U-boat sank the Lusitania in May of 1915, with the loss of nearly 1200 lives including 115 Americans, public opinion started to change. News of German atrocities in Belgium and the sinking of American merchant ships added to the cause for entering the war.

To gear up for war, the U.S. needed to raise funds for building ships and strengthening our military.

Howard Chandler Christy
was one of the popular artists of the day called upon to promote war bonds. Christy had a particular style that made his posters some of the most famous from that era.

While war was raging in Europe, the women of America were fighting their own war of independence with the Suffrage movement to get the right to vote. The words on the posters say enlist or buy bonds, but Christy's artwork seems to be portraying a new defiant spirit of women. Christy's ladies were not only defiant; they were adorable…. and sexy.
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More traditional artists such as J.C. Leyendecker who created the illustration at left and Kenyon Cox (below) painted women who were about as adorable and sexy as the Statue of Liberty. Their message was strength and honor. Christy and another artist, Haskell Coffin, used the allure of beautiful women to appeal to their audience. Still the message was strength and defiance. Coffin, who painted the beautiful Joan of Arc took beauty to a new level while still portraying strength an honor. "Joan of Arc Saved France. .. Women of America Save Your Country. .. Buy Bonds."
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Not all of the World War I posters featured pretty ladies. Many focused on the courage and gallantry of the men who went to war.
Sydney Riesenberg, a well known artist and illustrator, created the poster at right to honor the valor of the soldier. Another Riesenberg work features the headline "Lend as They Fight" (detail below) imploring citizens to buy bonds and support the men who give their all.
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The Artist Expresses a Strong Feeling

The message for the United States Fuel Administration in 1918 was "Mine More Coal." (Coal was the fuel that powered naval ships.) But the message in Walter Whitehead's artwork is something stronger than that. It is more like, "I've got your back, brother." These two guys look like they stand alone fighting off an army of Zombies.
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It is interesting to ponder or hypothesize the creative process each artist went through. Imagine that each poster started as an assignment to for example, "Create and image that makes people understand the urgency of buying bonds with something about how bonds are needed for munitions." In this example, artist Vincent Lynel has painted somebody's young son desperately in need of more ammo so he can keep fending off the attacking enemy before he is overtaken.
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Who We Are

Ocean Color (formally Ocean Color Group, Inc.) is a digital color printing and display company started in 1995. We are located in Middletown, RI. Over the years, we have built up considerable experience and expertise working with digital images to produce the best quality color prints. We have done work for a number of well known companies as well as hundreds of smaller companies. With this web site, we are using our equipment and experience to produce a series of great American posters. The first collection is 32 wonderful works of poster art from the early 20th Century. Overtime, we will add other collections to the web site.

American Tribute
In addition to this commercial web site, we have launched a number of "Great American" web sites that are not commercial. Their purpose is to celebrate our American heritage. Why? It comes from a very deep feeling of patriotism. We simply love this country and our common history. For a more complete explanation, please visit
http://www.American-Tribute.com.

Credits and Copyright:
All of the WWI poster artwork is in the public domain since it was created before 1923. Some of the other works we will be offering are in the public domain because they were originally created by an employee of the U.S. Government. While the original artwork is in the public domain, our restoration, which represents many hours of painstaking work is proprietary. The prints are for sale; the images are not for sale. A Confession of Sorts: we did not actually frame every poster and hang it on a brick wall and then photograph it to show you what it could look like in your home or business. We actually purchased great brick wall photos from a stock photo web site, www.123rf.com, and simulated the effect in photoshop. Why brick walls? Most walls in most homes are painted a solid color. If we took a photo of a typical wall, it wouldn't look like a wall; it would just look like a solid color. Photo credits are as follows:
Red Brick Wall: photo by Thomas Dutour www.123rf.com I.D.No. 23123072
Brick Wall with Hanging Lamp: photo by Sedat Seven - www.123rf.com I.D. No. 47615953
White Brick Wall: photo by Thomas Dutour - www.123rf I.D. No. 28649722

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The purpose of the project is to celebrate our American heritage and provide an online resource for showcasing the America that we can all be proud of.

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