This classic 1969 Anti-Vietnam War poster by Wes Wilson is up for auction right now through Hakes Americana and Collectibles.
American artist Wes Wilson is one of the leading designers of psychedelic posters, best known for designing posters for Bill Graham of The Fillmore in San Francisco. He’s considered to be one of “The Big Five” San Francisco poster artists, along with Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, and Stanley Mouse.
His design style that is now synonymous with the peace movement, and the psychedelic era and the 1960s. His iconic “psychedelic” font, which he began using around 1968, makes the letters look like they’re moving or melting, was heavily influenced by the Art Nouveau movement.
This signed poster for is for the “New Mobilization West” protest, created to look like a concert poster. The march took place on 15th November 1969, starting at Golden Gate ark and ended at the Polo Grounds in San Francisco.
The text across the top is a quote from the Bible, Isaiah 2:4 … “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people … and they shall beat their swords into plow shares and their spears into pruning hooks”.
This San Francisco demonstration is, perhaps, overshadowed today by the success of the major anti-war protest in Washington on the same day, which attracted an estimated 250,000 war protesters. They staged a peaceful rally demanding a rapid withdrawal of United States troops from Vietnam. (President Richard Nixon sat comfortably in the White House and ignored it, reportedly watching college football).
Although there was some violence by radical groups after the demonstration, the predominant event of the day “was that of a great and peaceful army of dissent moving through the city,” the New York Times reported.
Founded in 1966, the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which became the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, was a coalition of antiwar activists, informally known as “the Mobe”. The group’s chief aim was to mobilise US public opinion against the Vietnam War and against such other injustices of society as black inequality.
Organising numerous mass protests across the US, it sought to weld a coalition of existing peace groups and to spark the formation of new action groups across the country. The peace movement was, in the words of respected historian Charles DeBenedetti, “the largest domestic opposition to a warring government in the history of modern industrial society.”
The 1969 demonstrations were the work of the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (New Mobe), inspired by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. Founded at a conference at Case Western Reserve University in July 1969, “New Mobe”, together with the Vietnam Moratorium Committee and the Student Mobilization Committee, organised the 15th October 1969 Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam which resulted in large demonstrations against the Vietnam War held nationwide. The groups then organised the demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco on 15th November.
This protest poster is a classic image of the psychedelic 1960s – and you can bid for it here. Or, if the bidding proves too rich for your blood, head over to Wes Wilson’s web site and support his work directly.
Established in 1967, Hakes Americana and Collectibles offers a wide range of auction items from the world of popular culture collectibles including comic art, movie posters, lobby cards and more.
• Wes Wilson is online at www.wes-wilson.com
• A chronology of San Francisco anti-war protest online at The Pacifica Radio/UC Berkeley Social Activism Sound Recording Project: Anti-Vietnam War Protests in the San Francisco Bay Area & Beyond
• There’s an offline archive of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War at TriCollege Libraries
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