Summary

'Business as usual' is a postcard from the "Patriotic" Series V range of card, published by the Inter-Art Company, London, during the First World War.

The image on the front depicts John Bull, a fictional national personification for Great Britain - and England in particular - often represented as a short, stout man wearing black leather riding boots and a Union Jack waistcoat. His thumbs are tucked purposefully into the arm cut-outs of his waistcoat, and he stands resiliently in a shop doorway with the business name John Bull & Co. visible above the door. A news flyer announcing war news in pasted on the wall to the left of the door, and the caption to the image reads 'Business as usual'. His image is often used in political and patriotic cartoons and graphic work, this illustration being produced by Frederick Spurgun (1882-1968), a prolific artist and illustrator responsible for the design of many patriotic First World War postcards.

The sentiment expressed on the postcard of 'Business as Usual' was drawn upon by Winston Churchill (1874-1965), in his then role as First Lord of the Admiralty until the Liberal government of Herbert Asquith. In a speech given in 1914, in relation to the outbreak of war, Churchill observed that 'The maxim of the British people is 'Business as Usual.' His ardent support for the failed Dardenelles campaign in Turkey in 1915 lost him credibility, and the 'business as usual' sentiment of preserving the status quo diminished after Asquith lost office to David Lloyd George in 1916. Under Lloyd George, the idea of a state of total war was promoted, where all British efforts were directed towards the defeat of the Axis powers.

Physical Description

Postcard titled 'Business as usual' from the "Patriotic" Series V range of card, published by the Inter-Art Company, London, during the First World War. The card depicts the fictional national personification of England, John Bull, characteristically represented as a short, stout man wearing black leather riding boots and a Union Jack waistcoat. The signature of the illustrator, Frederick Spurgins, is apparent in the lower right corner of the image.

Significance

Commercially printed World War I patriotic postcard illustrating the stoic British determination expressed at the outbreak of war in 1914. Such postcards provide an interesting insight into issues of patriotism, nationalism and empire in the final years of the British Empire in the early twentieth century.

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