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Rally the Troops

A unique collection provides comparisons of wartime advertising.

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Andy and Judy Lloyd have worked for years cultivating three things — their three-year-old grandson Orion, their picturesque Ohio River bed-and-breakfast and their collection of more than 500 wartime posters, dating from WWI.

Besides a perfect b-and-b, the Lloyds use the Ohio River House in Higginsport, OH, to display their collection of more than 500 war-time posters in almost every room of their 1830’s getaway. They have been building their collection since they discovered authentic posters at an auction in Waldo, NY, several decades ago.

"One of the ways you can tell when posters are real by the thin paper," Andy says. "Also, for World War II, all the posters were folded, so there are creases. In World War I, the posters were rolled."

In those days, the Lloyds say, talented artists were chosen by the government for their skill in lithography, painting or screenprinting, created ads. Now well-known poster artists such as James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy and J. C. Leyendecker have had their work reach worldwide recognition, and as a result, increased in value. For example, an original, Uncle Sam "I Want You" poster by Flagg recently sold at auction for $3,500.

Remarking on an interesting bit of trivia, Andy notes that the personified white-bearded Uncle Sam character, which originated from this poster, is Flagg’s self-portrait.

During the world wars, wartime promotions poured from private and government sources, including local recruiting offices. Government posters most commonly hung in post offices, recruiting stations and public squares. Private companies were also called upon to put a war message in every ad they run. ST not only covered the variety of posters, vehicles and displays serving wartime needs, it donated space for public-service ads in its monthly pages.

F. A. Rhoads wrote in the June 1943 issue of ST, "We in the sign, poster and display business today must work harder than we ever have in order to thoroughly deliver the war effort story to the public. The better job we do on the home front, the better job they will do on the war front. Our displays today are flag-decked frames for a public power exhibit."

Jump more than 50 years ahead, and we see many private companies and individuals putting forth their messages after the Sept. 11 attack and for current war efforts. Cloth and neon flags cover entire building sides in metropolitan areas. Patriotic signs and flags adorn overpasses on American highways speckled by red, white and blue decorated vehicles.

On the public side, the Public Service Advertising Council (PSA) has been accepting the country’s most recognized nonprofit organizations’ ads for free distribution.

In the past, radio shows, posters and magazine ads reminded us to save waste fats for explosives, raise victory gardens and work overtime on the factory floor. Now, the Internet, television, magazines and radio advertising encourage us to take pride in being American and fight discrimination. While the medium and the messages have changed, the meaning remains the same — rally the troops, America is worth the fight.

Visit www.ohioriverhouse.com for more information on the Ohio River House Bed and Breakfast.

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