Buy Empire

Explore the legacy of Empire through the posters of the Empire Marketing Board

 

 

Empire Buying Begins at Home, from the series 'The UK Shows her Produce' (colour litho), English School, (20th century) Manchester Art Gallery, UK
Empire Buying Begins at Home, from the series 'The UK Shows her Produce' (colour litho), English School, (20th century) Manchester Art Gallery, UK

 

 

Manchester Art Gallery houses a unique collection of industrial art, collected during the 1930s. Within this collection is a significant group of posters, acquired to illustrate the role of artists in design, including 200 posters commissioned by the British Government's Empire Marketing Board (EMB) between 1926 and 1933. 

Bridgeman is delighted to present these posters for image licensing.

The Empire Marketing Board was formed in May 1926 by the Colonial Secretary Leo Amery to promote inter-Empire trade and to persuade consumers to 'Buy Empire'.  Colonial governments were reluctant to join the EMB, however, and the EMB was ended as a result of government cuts and the introduction of Imperial Preference.

Propaganda, Pride and Prejudice

The EMB's main functions were to research the production, trade and use of goods throughout the British Empire and to promote the idea of 'Buying Empire'.  Today the EMB is regarded as a rare example of peace time government propaganda. As with any cultural material, however, their meaning has changed over time and the poster collection today is subject to quite different interpretations from those originally intended.

See all advertising posters from the Empire Marketing Board

The Empire's Strength

This poster emphasises New Zealand’s role in exporting dairy products. 

Another poster reads "Did you know that New Zealand produces as much butter to-day as during the last war and twice as much cheese: that wool, meat and fruit are also exported in very large quantities."

After the first export of refrigerated meat to Britain in 1882, farmers were able to sell meat overseas. The meat was mainly from South Island sheep. The new railway lines helped transport the meat to ships.

 

Butter and Cheese, from the series 'Buy New Zealand Produce' by Frank Newbould (1887-1951) / Manchester Art Gallery
Butter and Cheese, from the series 'Buy New Zealand Produce' by Frank Newbould (1887-1951) / Manchester Art Gallery

 

Celebrating 'Great' Britain

The posters produced by the EMB reflect attitudes of the era and celebrate Britain during a time of prosperity. Lithographs advertising ‘Empire Tea’ and nostalgic scenes of home baking feed our appetite for the retro puddings and vintage treats sure to be seen at street parties this summer. Without restrictions and available for exclusive licensing deals, these visually striking posters will add a dash of good old-fashioned English eccentricity to any product range.

 

Untitled, from the series 'Christmas Fare from the Empire' by F.C Harrison (fl.1920s) Manchester Art Gallery
Untitled, from the series 'Christmas Fare from the Empire' by F.C Harrison (fl.1920s) Manchester Art Gallery

 

 

Empire Tea, from the series 'Drink Empire Grown Tea' by Harold Sandys Williamson (1892-1978) / Manchester Art Gallery
Empire Tea, from the series 'Drink Empire Grown Tea' by Harold Sandys Williamson (1892-1978) / Manchester Art Gallery

 


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