Images of Uncle Sam
more Uncle Sam
Uncle Sam as an invented brand character for America has a great visual
charm - half billboard, half huckster. Rather like a British policeman
in the traditional domed headwear, it is impossible to be utterly browbeaten
by this level of sartorial vulgarity and implausibility of decoration.
Oddly, the goatee became associated in America in the fifties with untrustworthy
Europeans, usually in the guise of the evil scientist. The image of
Trotsky was perhaps not far behind.
01. Herblock's image of concerned Sam, Washington Post 1951, From The
Herblock Book, Beacon Books, Boston 1952.
02. December 1951, and my own favourite. This is an advertisement for
The Advertising Council ,recalling the industry's contribution to the
War Effort in the "first dark days of World War II". 19 x
23cms, and as banale an image as you could get, featuring a national
personification greeting the respected face of business. This almost
plumbs the depths of PUNCH cartoons where France and Belgium weep over
a Turkey. There are, however, for the discerning analyst, some interesting
in the rather too affectionate double handshake which, because of the
badly drawn arm, looks like Sam is trying to extract something from
the sleeve of Business Leader. Would you trust your new dynamic advertising
campaign to an elderly cove who came out without his teeth and needs
to steady himself with his left arm on his desk which is, curiously,
bare ? He leaves the impression of somebody who is grateful to be called
because there's not a lot going on in his life. The use of Brown Trousers
on Sam is a cardinal error. The Advertising Council should be the first
ones to realise that you have to maintain consistency of colour in branding.
03..October 1948, US Army and Airforce Recruitment, "This is not
a time of war. Yet seldom before except in wartime has America been
threatened with graver danger than today. " Using the celebrated
and jagged image by James Montgomery Flagg as a basis but without the
teethgrinding and interrogation.
04. June 1964, issued by the vigorously anti-Socialist Investor
owned Electric Light and Power Companies . 18 x 20cms. "The people
who wrote our Constitution decided that the Federal Government should
not be a Great father. In fact they restricted Uncle Sam's role rather
strictly, to assure freedom and opportunity for individuals." Now,
how would you describe Sam's expression. I think it's distinctly RUEFUL
. Sam would love to be Father to the Nation, (like Papa Doc of Haiti)
but realises that the Power companies are lit, day and night, to stop
it. Hence Sam cannot here be called a personification of the Nation
- more a potential enemy.
01.June 1943, 14 x 23cms. Issued by the Mead Corporations, papermakers
to America. Very much the huckster with a grim face shrouded in darkness
with an innacurate thumb over the shoulder , more lift-seeking than
directional. Signed "Gough".
02.March 1941, and reproduced for you on such
a scale that you'll lose sleep for a week. Here, Sam, who tends to
the shifty, has got stern, with a terrific musculature. He positively
bristles with stars, not to mention stripes and his head of hair
is more Mosaic than is usual on American heroes. Signed "Arthur Smith" and
a good drawing it is too. Slightly vulgar on the hallation, but you
can't have everything 11 x 15cms.
03. Uncle Sam on his knees ? "not beaten there by the hammer and
sickle but FREELY, INTELLIGENTLY, RESPONSIBLY, CONFIDENTLY, POWERFULLY.
America knows it can destroy communism & win the battle for peace.
We need fear nothing or no one.... except GOD." And who brings
us this stuff ? The Hilton Hotel Chain , that's who - detail from the
ad JULY 1952 14 X 27cs. .