As Britain faces its biggest political challenge in decades, the poster, featuring a crown and the famous phrase up against a red backdrop, will go on sale at the Olympia Art and Antiques Fair in London, for an asking price of US$28,000 (£21,250).
The poster's seller, art dealer James Manning from Manning Fine Art, was coy about how he sourced the poster, but told Sputnik:
"I was very lucky to come by this. This came out of the collection somewhere on the south coast and has been kept in a drawer since the war — since 1939. I have had it for a little over a year and have been waiting for the right place to take it."
'Keep Clam' Propaganda
The poster, which was initially created during World War Two, was designed as part of wartime propaganda efforts from the British government, Manning said.
keep calm and make bacon pancakes — like awesome people do. pic.twitter.com/ZVdlEq2g1t— OYAJIDAMONO (@aben20) June 26, 2015
"In 1939 when war broke out, the [UK] Ministry of Information came up with an advertising campaign to encourage the population to do what the government wanted them to do. Propaganda is always very important during the war and controlling the population is an essential part of that. So, an unnamed civil servant, nobody knows his name or who he was, created this poster: 'Keep Calm and Carry On,' along with two other [wartime propaganda] posters."
Not Always So Popular
While the poster is universally popular now, and has spawned many spin-offs, Manning said it wasn't always like this.
"The population didn't like this very much because [the posters] had a crown on the top and it was telling the population — the people — that the King would win the war if the people did what he told them to do. These posters did not go down very well. So 'Keep Calm' was never used anyway. They printed nearly half a million copies of it and it was saved up to be used in the event of a German invasion."
Apparently the original proof of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster is for sale, so let's all chip in and burn it in a mad rage.— Samogotchi (@samogotchi) June 27, 2016
As the German invasion never occurred, the posters were never actually distributed in public and all of them were sent to be recycled to contribute to the war effort… or so the government thought.
Remember that the Keep Calm and Carry On poster was rejected during World War II because it was considered "patronizing and divisive"— Fulminous Edge (@johnsongriffinj) June 25, 2016
"The story would have ended if not for the fact that in 2000, the owner of a bookshop in Alnwick, Northumberland, found a poster in the box of things he bought. He thought it was quite jolly, put in a frame and hung it on one of his walls. He was inundated with requests for people wanting to buy it, or people wanting copies of it, so he started producing copies. And now it's become one of the most recognizable brands in the world."
'Keep Calm' in 2016
Given the turmoil and speculation stemming from last week's decision by the British public to vote to leave the EU, Manning told Sputnik the poster and its "Keep Calm and Carry On" message has taken on a renewed meaning.
There's never a "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster when you really need one. #Brexit— Al Prodgers (@alprodgers) June 24, 2016
"It was being saved up for the worst possible thing happening, which was the [potential] German invasion. In fact, where we are at the moment, we've told the Germans that they aren't allowed to invade, which some people think they were planning on doing, and it's very important to keep calm now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer [George Osborne] said exactly that: 'there's no need to panic.' It's a very British thing — not panicking."
idk how you could possibly make the "keep calm and" memes worse but britain managed to make it worse, thanks britain pic.twitter.com/CTbVATmTVh— Яков | Jaakoppi (@YakovPettersson) June 27, 2016
The poster will be on sale at the Olympia Art and Antiques Fair until Sunday, June 3.