‘Help Your Uncle Sam Win the War’
‘Help your Uncle Sam win the war’: Extraordinary collection of First World War propaganda posters intended to boost US morale comes up for sale
- Patriotic war posters collected by Wall Street analyst David Schwartz are going up for sale this week
- He bought them in antique shops and took collection with him when he moved to England in the early 1980s
- The United States only joined the war, which had been raging in Europe for almost three years, in April 1917
A unique collection of propaganda posters which were designed to encourage Americans to support their troops in the First World War is going up for sale this week.
The patriotic posters are full of stirring words and patriotic images of Uncle Sam, the Stars and Stripes and ‘our boys’ in the trenches and at sea, which inspired Americans back home to buy war bonds and help the war effort in other ways.
The United States was initially pursuing an isolationist policy in 1914 when the war broke out between Britain, France, Italy and Russia on one side and Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Turkey on the other.
The majority of the posters are exhortations to be frugal and to donate money to the war effort
The Emergency Fleet Corporation was formed in April 1917 to acquire and build more merchant ships, to help bring food and military supplies across the Atlantic to Britain, France and to a lesser extent Russia
America only joined the war in 1917, shortly after the infamous Zimmerman Telegram, in which Germany secretly tried to encourage Mexico to declare war on the US in a bid to recover territory lost since 1848.
Stock market historian and analyst David Schwartz amassed the posters over a number of years and he took them with him when he moved from New York to England in the early 1980s.
Another recurring theme is not to waste food.
One poster shows a convoy of food trucks to the front line and says: ‘Keep it coming, we must not only feed our soldiers at the front but the millions of women and children behind our lines’.
The war was won not just on the battlefront but also in the fields and farms of America. While Germans starved under a naval blockade American supplies of food, especially wheat, helped to feed the troops and the civilians in Britain and France
Fighting the war was going to cost the US government money so a series of war bonds, known as Liberty Loans, were sold and raised $17billion between April 1917 and the end of the war
The response to the sale of war bonds was initially unenthusiastic and there were even fears that German agents on Wall Street were deliberately damping down demand
Schwartz also had a couple of British ‘Red Cross’ posters in his collection.
Adam Inglut, militaria specialist at Special Auction Services in the British town of Newbury, said: ‘Schwartz… would often fly back to his home town of New York where he would trawl antique shops to find posters to add to his collection.
‘His wife decided now would be the perfect time to sell the posters because it is the centenary of the USA entering World War One.’
The collection is expected to sell for £25,000 ($30,000) when it goes under the hammer at an auction in Newbury, Berkshire on Wednesday.
Uncle Sam was an image which was increasingly used to boost patriotic efforts. Although the US Navy was not heavily involved in the war – the German Navy having largely retreated to port after the Battle of Jutland – images of sailors appealed to families who had sons at sea
Among the collection Schwartz amassed is this British poster showing an evil German nurse pouring away water in front of a thirsty and wounded British prisoner of war
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