Original U.S. WWI Liberty Bonds Propaganda Poster “The Hun - His Mark, Blot it Out” - 19 ¾” x 30”

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. During WWI, the U.S. government needed money to pay for tanks, ammunition, airplanes, and ships to fight the war. The government found funding through civilians through war bonds, or Liberty Loans. This was a very effective way of getting large amounts of money quickly. The poster encouraged the viewer to purchase a Liberty Loan to support the soldiers and end the war. A bloody hand print is used to signify the mark of Germany. The poster used the symbol as a tool to raise money for the American war effort through the sale of Liberty Bonds. The term "Hun" was used during both World War I and World War II as a derogatory word for a German soldier. It is a reference to the nomadic culture of Eastern Europe and Central Asia who achieved military success under their leader "Attila the Hun" during the 5th Century A.D.

The Committee of Public Information commissioned “The Hun, His Mark,” in 1917. This striking poster was designed by Chicago artist James Allen St. John who was best known, during the early part of the twentieth century, as a fantasy illustrator who worked closely with the Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs to make his novels come to life for readers. In this poster, St. John depicts the bloody handprint that symbolized the attack of the German soldier, or “Hun”, with the following text:

The Hun ~ his Mark
Blot it Out

As the poster states, people were told to buy liberty bonds as a way to directly counteract the German threat that could possibly sweep the United States if not contained. This poster signified a shift toward a more gruesome and personal approach to get people to buy the bonds that funded the American war effort. Fear was used as a tool so that people would have something to think about while their husbands and sons were fighting in Europe. The rampant xenophobia and anti-German immigrant sentiment within the United States at the time also caused many German-Americans to feel compelled to contribute to such campaigns as a way to prove their loyalty.

This genuine 1917 example is offered in very good original condition, showing a 2 1/2" long tear in the upper right hand corner, and showing overall age toning. There are some small tears going around the edge, as is common for posters of this age. No repairs have been made, and it does show some rippling from being rolled up improperly, which would be removed over time. Measures 19 ¾” x 30”.

Ready for display.

World War I and the Role of the Poster

World War I began as a conflict between the Allies (France, the United Kingdom, and Russia) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary). The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary and his wife Sophie ignited the war in 1914. Italy joined the Allies in 1915, followed by the United States in 1917. A ceasefire was declared at 11 AM on November 11, 1918.

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.

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