Those of you who have wandered the streets of any city will know of poor Bill Posters. Especially on construction sites one can find a sign stating “Post No Bills” or “Bill Posters Removed”, or the especially antagonistic “Bill Posters Banned”. One can’t help thinking Poor Bill? Where is he welcome? And where can I find more like him?
Posters or Bills are defined as a paper, written or printed, and posted up or given away, to advertise something, such as a lecture, a play, or the sale of goods etc. The main element of a poster is the image which is often dramatic and may be an art reproduction, photograph, etc. but is distinguished from these media by the addition of the message, either visual or verbal.
As posters are a form of print material they are collected selectively by the Library. Acquisition is based on legal deposit, donation and limited purchasing. In selecting items, the Library aims for representation of the subject areas outlined for the collection of ephemera, rather than being based on the artistic merit of the poster itself. The poster collection, as a graphic representation of information and opinion, complements the other print materials. Material collected provides a snapshot of Australian culture and society over time and includes among others: the performing arts, social issues and trends in Australian society, events of national significance or commemoration, sports, geographic areas, the environment and the nature of products and services available in Australia.
The poster collection at the NLA therefore contains a unique collection of material which reflects the social, artistic and sometimes political issues in Australia over time. This visual window into Australian life is not easily captured within a book but is very useful for researchers and social historians as it provides a readily accessible view of life in Australia at a particular point in time. One can find out, for example, the date of a concert and the style of artwork used to advertise it. Special event posters also provide a snapshot in time, for example one can see what postage stamps were issued to celebrate the Queen’s visit in 2011. Or one could be interested in the burgeoning sport of Roller-Derby and look up the posters advertising the bouts of the Canberra Roller Derby League.
The verbal message is usually short and catchy, but the picture is worth a thousand words.