"Illinois. 1818 Centennial 1918." Vintage Poster by Willy Sesser, 1918

Presented is a very rare and collectible 1918 Illinois Centennial poster by Willy Sesser. The poster is offered here  in its largest issued size, printed in full color. The poster was printed by Illinois Litho. Co., in Chicago. 

A teacher at Detroit's School of Applied Art, William Sesser beat out over 80 artists in a competition to design this 1918 Centennial poster for Illinois. Entrants were asked to compose a design which would “symbolize or portray the growth of Illinois from a pioneer State at the time of its admission…to its present proud position in the sisterhood of states.” 

In Sesser’s winning design, a pioneer with a flint-lock musket kneels in reverence to the United States flag. The newer Illinois State Capitol building appears in the background, showing the progress of the past century. Above the head of the pioneer are the two celebratory dates “1818” and “1918,” along with twenty stars representing the twenty states admitted to the Union before Illinois. On a line below, in the center, Sesser added a larger star, representing Illinois’ statehood admittance on December 3, 1818. 

The three lines of text at the bottom of the poster, “Not without thy wondrous story, Can be writ the nation’s glory, Illinois” are from a song written by Civil War veteran Charles Chamberlin. Chamberlin composed it as part of Chicago's bid to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition- a bid that the city successfully won. In 1925, seven years after the state's Centennial, the song was made the official Illinois state song. 

The Centennial Commission reproduced Sesser’s winning design “in color and in various sizes, from the full-size poster down to the ‘sticker’ size to be used on letters and packages, and widely distributed it" (Blue Book of the State Of Illinois, 1919-1920, p. 320). An iconic and celebrated poster, this image was used a lot in the Centennial’s advertising. 


Very good condition. Several minor repaired tears at edges and small replaced losses at edges. Color is very vibrant. Artist signature, in stone, in the bottom right corner. 

Archivally framed in a custom black wooden frame with UV plexiglas.

Framed Dimensions: 43 7/8" H x 30 1/2" W x 1" D.

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