If you have not seen this poster, you must have been living in a cave far away on a deserted island with no internet nor human contact. It. Is. Everywhere! Coffee mugs, wine glasses, t-shirts, car decals, hand towels, notebook covers, tea boxes, etc. So are the hundreds of variations so cleverly created by those with a hobby or wish and the humor of a 12 year old boy making fart jokes. “Keep Calm and fill in the blank.” I have to admit it; THIS one makes me laugh.
So, what is the origin of this popular meme? It dates all the way back to 1939 Britain. The world was bracing for yet another World War because the Germans were not behaving themselves. Of course they were not. The Germans had been blamed for WWI and the cost of the war had been placed on their shoulders. They had nothing to lose. The British Government’s Ministry of Information (MOI) put together this swell idea to create millions of posters for distribution that would, hopefully, raise citizen’s morale. Many slogans were suggested, but the Treasury would not approve the spending for what the MOI wanted. They narrowed it down to three slogans: “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution; Will Bring Us Victory”, “Freedom is in Peril; Defend it with all Your Might”, and “Keep Calm and Carry On”. The first two were printed up and distributed. The third was not. The plan for the third poster was to be distributed as soon as the bombing began, however, feedback from the first two posters were negative. Citizens found them to be patronizing. In April of 1940, due to a paper shortage, the retained copies of the third poster were reduced to pulp in order to produce new paper. A few copies survived, but remained unseen until the year 2000 when a bookseller found one at the bottom of a box of goods he won at auction. He decided to display it behind his desk and people began to request copies of the poster. Because of the interest, he received government permission to modernize the poster which can now be found printed on merchandise all over the world.
Now you know something new.