Vintage Posters: Highlights from Our Staff

August 11, 2020

Vintage Posters: Highlights from Our Staff

This month we at The Great Republic are highlighting our extensive collection of vintage posters. Whether promoting exciting travel opportunities, announcing a new film, or inspiring onlookers to serve their country, posters attracted attention and had a way of connecting with the public that many other mediums didn’t. Below, each of our experienced staff members have chosen a unique poster as their Staff Pick of the Month.


Displayed in public spaces and other high-visibility areas, posters were used as propaganda and as a way to directly advertise to the general public. During conflicts such as WWI and WWII, the government used posters to call for enlistments into the military and military-support roles. Bold, colorful scenes might depict a strong young man valiantly fighting for his country, or a beautiful representation of American calling for aid. Other government war posters requested financial aid from those not on the battlefronts. War Bond posters often pulled on the heartstrings of Americans and enticed them to do their duty and help fund those in harm’s way.


Posters provided a convenient form of advertisement as well as propaganda. The bold scenes and simple statements attracted the viewer’s eye and might illustrate a live show or a vacation destination. Similar to movie posters today, the artists had to portray an entire show in a single illustration. Travel posters also had to showcase what an entire city, and sometimes country, has to offer a visitor in a single snapshot. As railways and airlines continued to grow, travelers could finally visit cities and countries with ease. Posters advertised the various destinations and experiences their travel company could offer. Companies such as Trans World Airlines (TWA), Pan Am, and Santa Fe Railway enticed Americans to explore the world and broaden their horizons.


Each of our staff has taken the time to choose a poster in The Great Republic's collection. Some posters are collected for their age or historical impact, others for their aesthetic or reminiscent qualities. See what our staff has to say about the posters below!


Joan of Arc WWI Poster

Caroline Bonardi, President of The Great Republic, highlights one of our WWI War Savings Stamp posters by the famous Haskell Coffin: “Although a native of Charleston, South Carolina, this poster’s artist, William Haskell Coffin, studied portraiture locally in DC at the Corcoran School of Art. Coffin was a versatile illustrator and his iconic ‘Coffin girl’ illustrations graced the magazine covers of Redbook, The American, and The Saturday Evening Post. All of the women depicted in his posters, calendars, magazine and fashion catalogs were drawn from real life studies. In an interview, Coffin stated, ‘the making of a portrait is an imaginative work, because of the blending of two personalities, the sitter and the artist.’”



Washington Pennsylvania RR Poster

Kelly Makee, our Sales and Research Specialist, spotlights a vintage 1955 travel poster promoting the sites in Washington, DC: “Hearkening back to when trains still dominated the travel industry, this Pennsylvania Railroad poster offers a getaway to the nation’s capital. The poster advertises some of the best sites the city has to offer that still entice visitors today: the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court Building, the White House, and the National Gallery of Art. The National Gallery of Art was only 14 years old when this poster hung in shop windows and on the side of buildings. Boasting the most extensive railway system of the time, the “Pennsy” railroad made vacation travel accessible to the general public and allowed Americans to experience their own country.”



Join the Marines Christy WWI Poster

Katie Ibraliu, The Great Republic’s Marketing Manager and Assistant Manager in DC, highlights a motivational 1916 recruitment poster: “This recruitment poster from Howard Chandler Christy encouraged onlookers to ‘Join the Marines’ during WWI. Christy's famous renderings of women in his posters were dubbed his ‘Christy girls’ for their recognizable and iconic style. This poster shows a woman in full uniform, even though women were unable to join the war effort as soldiers by WWI. The poster served as a reminder to men to do their part and enlist, as the female depiction in a traditionally male role would have been a shocking reminder of their civic duty.”



Cadet Nurse Corps WWII Poster

Precious Hobson, our Sales Lead in Colorado, stresses the importance of the Cadet Nurse Corps during WWII: “This inspiring U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps poster gave women an opportunity to help serve their country when they were barred from actively fighting. Advertising ‘a proud profession’ the Corps provided medical training that would not only save lives during the war, but also help establish a career afterwards. During WWII, women were going through a time where they had to prove they could do the same job as a man. To me, this poster is very empowering and shows the support from the country for female employment and education. To be a Cadet Nurse, one must have been a high school graduate, 18-35 years old, and in good health. By 1945, there were over 124,000 women who served and countless lives saved.

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