On the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster:
"One of the few test printings of the poster was found in a consignment of secondhand books bought at auction by Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland, which then created the first reproductions. First sold in London by the shop at the Victoria and Albert Museum, it became a middlebrow staple when the recession, initially merely the slightly euphemistic “credit crunch”, hit. Through this poster, the way to display one’s commitment to the new austerity regime was to buy more consumer goods, albeit with a less garish aesthetic than was customary during the boom. This was similar to the “Keep calm and carry on shopping” commanded by George W Bush both after September 11 and when the sub-prime crisis hit America. The wartime use of this rhetoric escalated during the economic turmoil in the UK; witness the slogan of the 2010-15 coalition government, “We’re all in this together”. The power of Keep Calm and Carry On comes from a yearning for an actual or imaginary English patrician attitude of stiff upper lips and muddling through. This is, however, something that largely survives only in the popular imagination, in a country devoted to services and consumption, where elections are decided on the basis of house-price value, and given to sudden, mawkish outpourings of sentiment. The poster isn’t just a case of the return of the repressed, it is rather the return of repression itself. It is a nostalgia for the state of being repressed – solid, stoic, public spirited, as opposed to the depoliticised, hysterical and privatised reality of Britain over the last 30 years."
Owen Hatherley: Keep Calm and Carry On – the sinister message behind the slogan that seduced the nation