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Keep mum, she's not so dumb!

  • Object:

    Poster

  • Place of origin:

    United Kingdom (made)

  • Date:

    1941-1942 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lowe & Brydone Printers Ltd. (printers)
    H. M. Stationery Office (publishers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of the American Friends of the V&A; Gift to the American Friends by Leslie, Judith and Gabri Schreyer and Alice Schreyer Batko

  • Museum number:

    E.245-2004

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case 3G, shelf DR6

This poster warns against hte potential dangers of a seductive woman. The young Sergeant Air Gunner (his rank indicated by his insignia) is uncertain of the situation in which he finds himself. He smiles, but looks shyly at his companion, who leans towards him, as if enthralled. Placing her hand on his knee, she dominates the scene, and is in control of the situation. Her dress is a little too extravagant and her cheeks a little too heavily rouged - implying, during a time of shortages, that she had questionable morals. The notion of the prostitute-spy was common, and the idea that there were many dispensable and interchangeable intermediaries acting to disguise contact between spies and secret services was widespread. Here, even the shadows behind the couple seem to refer to mysterious figures listening to their conversation.

Physical description

'Keep mum - she's not so dumb!', Second World War propaganda poster depicting a glamorous woman seated with a serviceman. The woman is young and attractive, her cheeks are highly rouged, she wears red lipstickand her blonde, shoulder-length hair is of a style typical of the early 1940s. She wears a red and white patterned dress, with a deep 'V' neckline. She is pictured in profile, as she leans towards the serviceman, placing her hand on his knee; her nails are painted red. The serviceman, an RAF officer, is seen face on, he smiles, his eyes turned towards her. He has a moustache, and his hair is neatly combed. He sits with his legs crossed. He wears an Air Gunner's Brevet (half-wing insignia with the letters 'AG'), and three stripes (white on black chevrons) on his left arm, indicating that he is of a (Single) Sergeant's Rank. Behind them, their shadows form the background, 'roughly' applied in a dark pinky-red colour.

Halfway down the poster, below the image, the slogan, 'Keep mum - she's not so dumb!' is printed in large black sans-serif letters. Below this, at the bottom of the poster, printed in capitalised, red, letters, is the message, 'Careless talk costs lives'. The artist has signed himself 'AY' or possibly 'AJ' under the image (just below the serviceman's arm), and the printing and publishing information, 'printed for H.M. Stationery office by Lowe & Brydone Printers Ltd., N.W.10. 51-101' is printed in small red capitalised letters in the lower left-hand corner of the sheet.

Place of Origin

United Kingdom (made)

Date

1941-1942 (made)

Artist/maker

Lowe & Brydone Printers Ltd. (printers)
H. M. Stationery Office (publishers)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph

Marks and inscriptions

'Keep mum - / she's not / so dumb!'
Halfway down the poster, below the image, printed in large black sans-serif letters.

'CARELESS TALK COSTS LIVES'
At the bottom of the poster, printed in capitalised red letters.

'AY' or 'AJ'
Artist's signiature, under the image (just below the serviceman's arm).

'PRINTED FOR H.M. STATIONERY OFFICE BY LOWE & BRYDONE PRINTERS LTD., N.W.10. 51-101'
Printing and publishing information, printed in small red capitalised letters in the lower left-hand corner of the sheet.

Dimensions

Height: 76.7 cm, Width: 51.5 cm

Descriptive line

Poster depicting a glamorous female spy and a serviceman, produced by H.M. Stationery Office, about 1942

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Images of War: British Posters 1939-45. John D. Cantwell. HMSO/ Public Record Office. 1989.

Materials

Ink; Paper

Techniques

Colour lithography

Subjects depicted

Men; Beauty; Spy; Woman; Chevrons; Propaganda; Espionage; Dresses; Moustaches; Insignia; Uniforms; War; Military personnel

Categories

Prints; Propaganda; Posters

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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