Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Peace Symbol Meets Mercedes Benz

Readers usually find lots of birthdays in my posts. Today is no exception; however, the center of our attention is a thing rather than a person. Yes, today is the birthday of the "Peace Sign". It was introduced on this day in 1958 by Gerald Holtom a British artist who developed it as a logo for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The anti-war movements of the 1960's readily adopted it as an international peace symbol.

The design was quite simple. The vertical line was derived from the British semaphore code symbol for "N" - standing for "Nuclear." The arms came from the symbol for "D." - standing for "Disarmament." Both were set in a circle symbolizing the world.

We've come fifty years and two generations from those early demonstrations and its new symbol. That's plenty of time for symbology to change but in this case most contemporary demonstrators still get it right. Most demonstrators but not all.

Perhaps this phenomenon is little more than a common oversight. On the other hand I suspect that the huge growth in American prosperity and marketing over those decades may be a greater influence. It is a comfortable journey from the houses most boomers experienced as children to the bourgeoisie dwellings we own - perhaps "finance" is a better term - in today's world. Add trust fund babes to the mix and one can see where there may be some confusion with historic symbols and the branding going on in Mom and Dad's three- bay detached garage. If they only knew.


Gerald Holtom earned nothing directly from designing the peace symbol, an image that cannot be copyrighted or trademarked. Commercial users have made billions off the symbol now ubiquitous in our culture 57 years following its introduction.

Wikipedia, Gerald Holton
Center for Nuclear Disarmament
The Peace Symbol Celebrates Its 57th Birthday, But Still No Peace,

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