Keep Calm and Carry On is a catchphrase that originally appeared on a World War II-era British public safety poster. After one of the original posters was recovered and placed in a British bookshop in 2000, the inspirational message was shared online, sparking a series of image macros centered around the phrase template “Keep Calm and X.”1
The Keep Calm and Carry On poster was commissioned in 1939 by the temporary Ministry of Information in England, following the printing of two other inspirational posters stating “Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might” and “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory.” It was intended to be used to strengthen morale in the event of a large-scale attack or occupation, which many considered inevitable at the time.
Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO) was charged with printing the posters, costing approximately £20,600 for printing and storage of 5,000,000 copies, with an additional fee of £225 for the artists who designed them; the designer of the poster remains unknown. These were kept in storage in case of a dire attack on the country, while the other two designs were circulated that September. Since there was not a large-scale attack or occupation, the design was never used. Most of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters were destroyed or lost in time, with the exception of 7: 6 found in 2009 that are in storage at the Imperial War Museum, and 1 that resides in a British book shop.” 2 3