Original U.S. WWI Fourth Liberty Loan Poster - Liberty Shall Not Perish - 33” x 22”
Original Item: Only One Available. “That Liberty Shall Not Perish From The Earth'' was one of many posters issued by the U.S. government during World War I to encourage support of the war. This poster features a picture of the Statue of Liberty in ruin, the New York skyline in flames with a squadron of German bombers flying overhead and in the distance a collapsed Brooklyn Bridge. A German U-Boat can also be seen in the water heading towards the coastline. The artist’s name, Joseph Pennell can be seen in the left hand corner. This historic poster was originally to have been titled "Buy Bonds or you will See This," but the publisher changed the title. The “new” title that was printed is:
THAT LIBERTY SHALL NOT
PERISH FROM THE EARTH
BUY LIBERTY BONDS
FOURTH LIBERTY LOAN
In the bottom right corner, the publisher information can be found:
Heywood, Strasser & Voigt Litho Co. in New York
The poster appears to have never never been folded and there is slight wear and fading present.
This haunting Liberty Bonds poster is a definite must have in your poster or WWI collection!
During World War I, the impact of the poster as a means of communication was greater than at any other time during history. The ability of posters to inspire, inform, and persuade combined with vibrant design trends in many of the participating countries to produce thousands of interesting visual works. As a valuable historical research resource, the posters provide multiple points of view for understanding this global conflict. As artistic works, the posters range in style from graphically vibrant works by well-known designers to anonymous broadsides (predominantly text).
The poster was a major tool for broad dissemination of information during the war. Countries on both sides of the conflict distributed posters widely to garner support, urge action, and boost morale. During World War II, a larger quantity of posters were printed, but they were no longer the primary source of information. By that time, posters shared their audience with radio and film.
Even with its late entry into the war, the United States produced more posters than any other country. Taken as a whole, the imagery in American posters is more positive than the relatively somber appearance of the German posters.
A Liberty bond (or liberty loan) was a war bond that was sold in the United States to support the Allied cause in World War I. Subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States and introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time.
There were four issues of Liberty Bonds:
-April 24, 1917: Emergency Loan Act, authorizes issue of $1.9 billion in bonds at 3.5 percent.
-October 1, 1917: Second Liberty Loan, offers $3.8 billion in bonds at 4 percent
-April 5, 1918: Third Liberty Loan, offers $4.1 billion in bonds at 4.15 percent.
-September 28, 1918: Fourth Liberty Loan, offers $6.9 billion in bonds at 4.25 percent.
Interest on up to $30,000 in the bonds was tax exempt only for the First Liberty Bond.
The first three Liberty bonds, and the Victory Loan, were retired during the course of the 1920s. However, because the terms of the bonds allowed them to be traded for the later bonds which had superior terms, most of the debt from the first, second, and third Liberty bonds was rolled into the fourth issue.
The fourth Liberty Bond had the following terms:
-Date of Bond: October 24, 1918
-Coupon Rate: 4.25%
-Callable Starting: October 15, 1933
-Maturity Date: October 15, 1938
-Amount Originally Tendered: $6 billion
-Amount Sold: $7 billion
The terms of the bond included: "The principal and interest hereof are payable in United States gold coin of the present standard of value." This type of "gold clause" was common in both public and private contracts of the time, and was intended to guarantee that bond-holders would not be harmed by a devaluation of the currency.
However, when the US Treasury called the fourth bond on April 15, 1934, it defaulted on this term by refusing to redeem the bond in gold, and neither did it account for the devaluation of the dollar from $20.67 per troy ounce of gold (the 1918 standard of value) to $35 per ounce. The 21 million bond holders therefore lost 139 million troy ounces of gold, or approximately 41% of the bond's principal. This was the equivalent of $2.866 billion (in 1918 dollars) and $250 billion in 2021 dollars.
The legal basis for the refusal of the US Treasury to redeem in gold was the gold clause resolution, dated June 5, 1933. The Supreme Court later held this to be unconstitutional under section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment:
“We conclude that the Joint Resolution of June 5, 1933, insofar as it attempted to override the obligation created by the bond in suit, went beyond the congressional power.”
— Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, Perry v. United States, 294 U.S. 330, 354 (1935)
However, due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's elimination of the open gold market with the signing of Executive Order 6102 on April 5, 1933, the Court ruled that the bond-holders' loss was unquantifiable, and that to repay them in dollars according to the 1918 standard of value would be an "unjustified enrichment". The ruling therefore had little practical effect.
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