War and You!

Throughout history many governments have had to borrow money in order to finance their war efforts. War bonds became the primary means of financing the efforts in the First and Second World Wars. Traditionally governments sought the aid from wealthy individuals, but would eventually offer the bonds to the general public. Many advertisements were made to persuade the public to purchase bonds. The advertisements were often accompanied with symbols and themes of patriotism or human conscience. The posters varied from nation to nation and were targeted to specific audiences, primarily those who remained as citizens. Thematically, war bond advertisements changed over the course of both wars, as the overall image of war changed once the First World War concluded. War bonds were created out of need and were most definitely a product of their time. This exhibition explores the varying themes, targeted audiences, and even the naming of bond advertisements. 

Canada joined the war in 1914 and the first domestic war loan was raised in 1915. In 1917, Canadian bonds were renamed to "victory bond". The first Victory Loan was a 5.5% issue of 5, 10, and 20 year gold bonds. This poster primarily focuses on the investment people could make if they purchased war bonds.
In 1917 and 1918 the United States government began to issue their own bonds. Their bonds were called "Liberty Bonds" and their campaign was more aggressive than most. This poster lists only two options for Americans to chose; fight in the war, or support it financially. In addition to the message, the images in this poster draw from classical themes of freedom and liberty.
This poster appealed to the public by using words from the President. The portrait of the President is surrounded by the American flag and the layout of the ad looks similar to a plaque or governmental decree. The poster seems to be an official document and may have been designed as such to allude to the notion that citizens must purchase bonds.
This poster uses a well known historical female figure to appeal to women. Despite the fact that Joan of Arc was French, this ad is targeting the women at home. The poster is telling women that even though they are not actively participating in the war, they can save their country by simply buying and saving bonds.
The bald eagle is a strong patriotic symbol of the United States. The land of the free and home of the brave; this poster focuses on what it meant to be an American during wartime. This poster calls the public to support the war in order to protect their identity. The bald eagle is being protected by several fighter planes, which in turn meant it was being protected by those who bought bonds.
This poster focuses specifically on family. Simply by including a father, mother, and their son, this ad plays to human emotion and conscience. If one invests in war bonds they invest in the protection of, not only their own family, but families across the country. The soldier in the poster seems to have already returned home from the front and as such, further solidifies the idea that purchasing war bonds directly impacts the outcome of the war.
This Canadian World War II poster shows a triumphant scene which includes soldiers and a female factory worker. This poster mixes classical themes with more contemporary ideas of the time; ones of the working woman and of the people. Workers needed money to produce munitions for the soldiers and the soldiers needed the munitions to win the war. Bond ads began to have more images of soldiers and actual battle.
During the Second World War, war bond advertisements changed. Classical imagery and patriotic symbolism were not as prominent as the focus shifted to the people and the individuals serving in the war. This poster depicts a soldier about to throw a grenade. The image and text implies that buying bonds will help place more grenades in this man's hand and will consequently help win the war.
This poster focuses on the factory worker. These men and women were the ones that directly supplied soldiers with the tools to fight in the war. Not only did purchasing bonds mean supplying soldiers with ammunition, but it also meant giving jobs and greater purpose for those who stayed home.
As many became aware of the devastation of war following the First World War, art and poetry spoke not of the glories or war, but of the death and despair. War bond posters began to follow suit during the later years of the Second World War. Seeming to have given up on romanticising war, ads shifted to the care and health of veterans that would be returning home. This poster depicts a single injured soldier with an emotional expression, showing the cost of war; physically, mentally and emotionally.
Credits: All media
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