Modernist British safety posters from the middle of the 20th century.

Stark, Spare, Beautiful Midcentury British Safety Posters

Stark, Spare, Beautiful Midcentury British Safety Posters

The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Sept. 16 2016 1:56 PM

Stark, Spare, Beautiful Midcentury British Safety Posters

L0026410 A flask exploding, a left eye open without protection,
Colour lithograph after L. Cusden.

Wellcome Library, London

This solemn group of posters teaching safety to British citizens comes from the archive of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. The images are from the Wellcome Library's website; I first saw them on the blog the Passion of Former Days.

The RoSPA displayed a series of its 20th-century posters in a 2012 exhibition, after rediscovering a small archive of them in an outbuilding. In the exhibition notes, RoSPA curators noted that the society, which dates back to World War I, focused on road safety and pedestrian awareness in the 1920s and 1930s (much like analogous American safety organizations).

In the 1940s, wartime conditions, the RoSPA curators wrote, "made industrial safety a matter of national survival," and the society worked with the Ministry of Labour to produce and disseminate posters designed to minimize workplace accidents. Most of the posters below, designed by artist Leonard Cusden, are from this period and are aimed at factory workers.

Didn'tProtect
Color lithograph after L. Cusden.

Wellcome Library, London

L0026424 The head of a cat with green eyes wide open above a roa
Color lithograph after L. Cusden.

Wellcome Library, London

L0026401 A makeshift arrangement of crates, a step-ladder and a
Color lithograph after L. Cusden.

Wellcome Library, London

L0077045 Lithograph poster warning about the dangers of using
Color lithograph after L. Cusden.

Wellcome Library, London

L0026404 A hammer, screwdriver and pincers placed on a ladder fr
Color lithograph after L. Cusden.

Wellcome Library, London

L0026435 A plant with fingers growing out of the stem. Colour li
Color lithograph after Lewitt-Him.

Wellcome Library, London

L0026425 A man in protective clothing holding an electric arc we
Color lithograph after L. Cusden.

Wellcome Library, London