The Empire Marketing Board was established in London in 1926 for the purpose of promoting the sale of produce from countries associated with the British Empire. Its methods of advertising included posters for shop windows and outdoor billboards.
There were three Irish artists commissioned by the Board: Margaret Clarke, Sean Keating and James Humbert Craig. The poster above is by Clarke. Like most of her work for the Board, it looks a bit pale and sickly (too much dairy and not enough fresh air, perhaps?)
These two are quite nice though. They remind me of the Macmillanish classroom posters that the nuns used to have up on the walls of my first primary school. I spent a lot of time looking at them.
I have not been able to find any of Craig’s posters but there are two lovely ones from Keating (chickens and bacon!) below.
As far as promoting happy trade relations with the Irish Free State was concerned, the Empire Marketing Board campaign must have been the least successful ever. In 1932 the Irish Free State Government decided that free agricultural trade was no longer profitable and that a tariff should be placed on imports from Britain. It also decided to cease repayment of the loans previously taken out by tenant farmers to buy out their landlords’ interests. This resulted in the imposition by Britain of a hefty duty on all Irish imports, which effectively crippled the Irish economy. It wasn’t until World War 2 and subsequent rationing that the British palate once again started to salivate for Irish bacon, eggs and dairy produce.
Still, at least the Board’s campaign left us with these gorgeous images…
More about the Anglo-Irish Trade War of 1932-38 (also known as ‘the Economic War’) here.