"You Buy 'Em, We'll Fly 'Em!" Vintage WWII Defense Bonds Poster by Wilkinsons, 1942

This famous WWII poster features an American pilot, as he sits in the cockpit of a plane, giving a "thumbs up" sign. A formation of U.S. Army planes fly overhead. In the far background is a hangar with personnel servicing a plane. In large red text is the phrase “You Buy ‘em, We’ll Fly ‘em,” a catchy slogan promoting the purchase of Defense Bond Stamps.

A round emblem at the lower right corner of the poster contains the image of the Concord Minute Man statue with the slogan, "The more bonds you buy--the more planes will fly." As savings bonds became defense bonds, officials redesigned the small-denomination savings stamp to include a new logo featuring Daniel Chester French’s “Minuteman at Concord.”

The Savings Bond posters of the early 1940s were created to secure widespread ownership of the public debt, and emphasized a unified and participatory role for every American. Whereas early Liberty Loan posters of WWI used strong coercion, negative imagery, and dramatic, sometimes fear-based, wording, the Savings-turned-Defense Bond posters were designed to instill in the people a positive outlook, a sense of patriotism, and confidence. They directly linked the war in trenches with the war-production effort at home.

Defense Bond posters called upon every man, woman, and child to endure the personal sacrifice and domestic adjustments to further the national war agenda. The posters were used primarily for financing the war effort, as they encouraged rationing, conservation, and sacrifice. They additionally championed recruitment and service enlistment, overall national productivity, and served as tools of motivation.

This poster design was conceived by illustrators J. Walker Wilkinson and his son Walter G. Wilkinson, who signed their collaborative work “Wilkinsons.” 


Good condition overall. Some fold lines and ripples in paper, from past storage. Colors are very bright, with only light toning. Printed "Form D.S.S 178 A" at bottom left margin and "U.S. Government Printing Office: 1942-O-436100" at the bottom right margin. Poster is presented unframed.

Unframed Dimensions: 28" H x 20" W.

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