"I Want You for the U.S. Army" Vintage WWI Poster by James Montgomery Flagg, 1917

Presented is an original recruiting poster by artist James Montgomery Flag with the words, “I Want You for the U.S. Army/Nearest Recruiting Station.” The poster was published by Leslie-Judge Co., New York in 1917.

James Montgomery Flagg (1870-1960) was a prodigious illustrator, working as a contributing artist to Life magazine at the surprisingly young age of 14. He is most famous for creating the first image of the fictional Uncle Sam, shown in this poster. The “I want YOU" lithographed image of Uncle Sam was first published in 1917, during World War I. It is storied that Flagg used his own likeness as the model for Uncle Sam, imagining himself as a much older man and with facial hair.

Until the advent of the Cold War in the 1950s, America traditionally maintained a relatively small standing army. Whenever war broke out, it was necessary for the country to mobilize—to recruit (and sometimes draft) troops, to train them, and to produce the arms, equipment, and supplies needed to fight. When Congress and the President declared war on Germany in April of 1917, this mobilization took on extreme urgency. The government’s overarching goal was to persuade a traditionally isolationist American populace to invest and support the European war effort. They needed support both financially, through the purchase of war bonds and rationing, and emotionally, through volunteer service and displays of patriotism.

New government organizations, especially the Committee on Public Information, were tasked with putting out a singular patriotic message, achieved primarily through posters and printed pamphlets. The United States alone produced about 2,500 poster designs and approximately 20 million posters, nearly 1 for every 4 citizens, in little more than 2 years.


Original color lithograph, in very good condition. Color is original and still vibrant. Paper is healthy. Some overpainting and partially-replaced margins; repaired tears, creases and restoration in margins and image. Framed to highest conservation standards, with a custom-built black frame.

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