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Poster - Telling a friend may mean telling the enemy
  • Telling a friend may mean telling the enemy
    J. Weiner Ltd.
  • Enlarge image

Telling a friend may mean telling the enemy

  • Object:

    Poster

  • Place of origin:

    London (printed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1942 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    J. Weiner 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.1870-2004

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case 3G, shelf DR19

This poster, by an unknown artist, depicts the stereotype of the gossiping woman: the sailor tells his girl, who tells her friend, and the information eventually gets passed on to a suspicious character. What is interesting is that although the messengers are women, the source and ultimate recipient of the secret are both men, the women are simply the means by which it is transmitted to the enemy. Each has a different reaction to the news - passivity, surprise or guile - and it is the brunette who takes up the role of femme fatale. As with the more familiar slogan of 'Keep Mum She's not so Dumb', the implication here is that women cannot be trusted to keep secrets, regardless of whether their disclosure is innocent gossip or espionage, so your friend's friend may be your enemy.

Physical description

"Telling a friend may mean telling the enemy" World War II propaganda poster warning against careless talk. The poster is divided into four parts, and in each are the heads of two people engaged in conversation. The first (upper left) depicts a sailor talking to his girlfriend, who speaks to her friend in the second (upper right), who tells another female friend (lower left), and in the final square, one of the women from the third has passed the information is passed to a shifty-looking man, the implication being that he is a spy. Below the images in each square is part of the slogan, 'Telling' in the first, 'a friend may', in the second, 'mean telling' in the third, and finally, 'the enemy'.

Place of Origin

London (printed)

Date

ca. 1942 (made)

Artist/maker

J. Weiner Ltd. (printers)
H. M. Stationery Office (publishers)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph

Marks and inscriptions

'TELLING a friend may / mean telling THE ENEMY'
The first line beneath the images in the upper two quarters of the poster, the second line below the images at the bottom of the poster. The capitalised words are printed white on red, the rest black on white

'Printed for H.M. Stationery Office by J. WEINER Ltd., LONDON. W.C.1. 51-8685'
Printed, lower left-hand corner

Dimensions

Height: 76.1 cm, Width: 50.5 cm

Descriptive line

"Telling a friend may mean telling the enemy" World War II propaganda poster warning against careless talk, printed for HMSO by J. Weiner Ltd, England (London), about 1941

Materials

Paper; Ink

Techniques

Lithography

Subjects depicted

Men; Spies; War; Espionage; Women; Sailors; Propaganda

Categories

Prints; Propaganda; Posters

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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