These thoughts are the result of what was quite literally fall out from my previous musings about poster sizes. When I was scanning Eckersley’s illustrations, his obituary (from The Times, August 18 1997) dropped out of Poster Design. And it told me something I didn’t know.
I’d always been aware of his being Tom Eckersley, O.B.E., but I had no idea that he’d got the honour in 1948, at the age of just 34. It was in recognition of his contribution to the war effort. Which looked like this.
And also this, amongst many, many others.
He was awarded the honour for all of his posters for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents – and possibly also for the fact that he designed all of these posters while at the same time drawing maps for the RAF as his day job. I find it really interesting – particularly in light of the current backlash against ‘Health and Safety’ – that this campaign was seen as such a central part of wartime propaganda, to the extent that Eckersley was, as far as I know, the only wartime poster designer to be honoured in this way. Although please do correct me if that’s wrong.
But I’m not just telling you this because it’s an interesting snippet. ROSPA, who commissioned all of these posters, have als0 put up an interesting archive of all of their World War Two Safety Posters, with images from Abram Games and Arnold Rothholz as well. So there are lots of lovely images for you to look at, and a bit of history as well. (If you want to follow the trail any further, it leads, with a certain inevitability, to Rennies who have many more posters on their site).