Search Results for 'stickerette'

Ten new “stickerettes”!

I have acquired ten new I.W.W. stickerettes! They came from a packet with text on the cover that reads “Stickerettes – Silent Agitators – Fifteen Different Designs – Black And Red – Stick ’Um Up!” There is also an image of a black sab cat in a wooden shoe that was likely designed by or borrowed from Ralph Chaplin, whom I’ve written about before. Sorry for the poor screen shot of the envelope; it’s the best I could get.

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I can confirm the dates of these stickerettes, too. The I.W.W. headquarters were located at 1001 West Madison Street in Chicago, the address listed on the envelope, from July 1917 to March 1925.

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You can see the new stickerettes on my Flickr site here (scroll down to the bottom). I now have 41 stickerettes in my collection; a few of them are duplicate designs with one printed in black or red and the other printed in both black and red.

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The stickerette “Why Be A Soldier? Be A Man, Join The I.W.W. And Fight On The Job For Yourself And Your Class.” is one that undoubtedly got the I.W.W. and union members in trouble with the U.S. government. On September 5, 1917, federal agents raided I.W.W. offices across the country, and 100 union leaders and members were later arrested and charged with sedition under the newly created Espionage Act of 1917 that was enacted a few months beforehand (along with another charge of violating postal laws by mailing out stickerettes and other printed matter).

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Dates Confirmed for Early I.W.W. Stickerettes

I can finally confirm dates of some of the earliest I.W.W. stickers in my collection. The August 31, 1918, edition of The Literary Digest ran an article called “Branding the I.W.W.” that features three stickers with the caption, “Typical I.W.W. Propaganda—Stickers Circulated in the Northwest.”

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Unfortunately, the article doesn’t say anything about the stickers themselves, but it describes the conviction of 100 I.W.W. members for treason soon after the beginning of World War I and the subsequent passage of the U.S. Espionage Act. The artist and poet Ralph Chaplin, whom I’ve written about in previous posts and for the People’s History Archive, was one of those union members arrested and convicted, and I imagine he created these early stickers, known at the time as “stickerettes” or “silent agitators.”

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Other articles in this edition include “Grenades to Suit Everybody,” Germany’s Gigantic War Profits,” and “Why Germany Destroys Art.”

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Three new “stickerettes”

Three new Industrial Workers of the World “stickerettes” for the Street Art Graphics digital archive!

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The text reads, “I.W.W. — For More of the Good Things in Life — Organize — One Big Union”

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This one reads, “Join the I.W.W. — We Know He Won’t Join — But How About You?”

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And this one reads, “One Big Union — The Key to Industrial Peace — OBU — Join the I.W.W.”

(I add the text here in case people are doing keyword searches.)  For more on “stickerettes,” see my previous posts:

I.W.W. “stickerettes”

“Stickerettes at NYU’s Tamiment Library

More on I.W.W. “stickerettes”

“Stickerette” ad in 1917 I.W.W. Solidarity newspaper

Two new “stickerettes”

Two new “stickerettes”

I’ve acquired two new unused stickerettes for my collection and sticker exhibition.  The smaller stickerette is a real favorite.  NYU has one, too.  It measures 3 1/4 x 2 3/8 inches, and the text reads: “The capitalist’s [heart] is in his pocketbook, And he uses the [club] Over you so he can wear [diamonds].  By organizing right, we can give him a [spade] With which to earn an honest living.”

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The second stickerette measures 6 x 6 inches and is the largest and rarest I’ve ever come across.  It was issued by the S.F. (San Francisco) Trades Union Promotional League in 1927, and the text reads “Labor Unionism, Labor Omnia Vincit.  The World’s Greatest Promoter of Human Justice.  Let us make it ever greater.  Public Schools.  Right of the Ballot.  Workers Compensation Legislation.  Health and Safety Legislation.  Child Labor Laws.  Eight Hour Day.”

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Both stickerettes are printed on a very lightweight cream paper with a gummed backing.  I would love to find a photograph of stickerettes being used back in the day!

“Stickerette” ad in 1917 I.W.W. Solidarity newspaper

This is the first image I’ve ever seen of someone putting up stickers.  I found it in two issues of an I.W.W. newspaper called Solidarity published in Cleveland on September 9 and 16, 1917.  Stickerettes were advertised in Solidarity between at least June 24, 1916, and August 25, 1917, though I’ve seen a reference that they might have been advertised as early as November 20, 1915.  In 1916, one could buy stickerettes in packages – 110 per package cost 15 cents, or a box of 1,100 cost $1.00.

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I’ve been trying to find photographs of stickerettes put up on buildings or other surfaces, too, but no luck yet.

More on I.W.W. “stickerettes”

I’ve had the luxury of spending several hours during the last few days doing research on the I.W.W. stickerettes that I posted about previously on June 3, 2012 and July 28, 2012.  I’ve decided that I need to include some historical background information about stickerettes in my sticker book, which I am tentatively calling Takin’ it to the Streets and Stickin’ it to the Man: Contemporary Sticker Art as Cultural Expression and Political Protest.  It’s a terribly long title.  The other title I’ve been thinking of lately, however, is simply Paper Bullets.  Short and sweet!

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The commercial artist Ralph Chaplin (1887-1961) was probably the first person to have produced stickerettes during 1915-1916, according to Mark van Wienen in Partisans and Poets: The Political Work of American Poetry in the Great War.  A million stickerettes were printed and distributed in early 1917, with another three million to be printed by May Day that year and 65,000 stickerettes in other foreign languages.  Van Wienen writes, “Stickerette mania grew so intense that a poem in [the I.W.W. weekly] Solidarity, ‘Stick ‘Em Up,’ dubbed May Day ‘Stickerette Day’.”

Now all the bosses and their stools will think they’re out of luck, To see the spots of black and red where Stickerettes are stuck; And after they have scratched them off and shook their fists and swore, They’ll turn around to find again another dozen more.

Upon the back of every truck, on packages and cards, Upon the boats and in the mines and in the railroad yards, From Maine to California and even further yet, No matter where you look you’ll see a little Stickerette!

By September of 1917, however, Chaplin and others in the I.W.W. were arrested under the U.S. Espionage Act on charges of sedition.  The Espionage Act was passed just after the United States entered World War I.  The New York Tribune ran an article, “I.W.W. Beaten in Two Attempts to Rule Out Evidence: Judge Permits Introduction of Pamphlets to Prove Sabotage” (May 7, 1918, p. 7), which described:

William Cahill, member of a job printing establishment in Chicago, testified that he had printed more than 1,500,000 stickerettes for the I.W.W.  These were designed by Ralph Chaplin, one of the defendents, whose pen name is “Bingo.”  Many of them advocated sabotage.”

Stickerettes are also mentioned in an essay entitled “Here Come the Wobblies!” by Bernard A. Weisberger for the American Heritage (1967, Volume 18, Issue 4), where he paints a lively picture:

The I.W.W. reached [the migrant worker] where he lived: in the hobo “jungles” outside the rail junction points, where he boiled stew in empty tin cans, slept on the ground come wind, come weather, and waited to hop a freight bound in any direction where jobs were rumored to be.  The Wobblies sent in full-time organizers, dressed in the same caps and windbreakers, but with pockets full of red membership cards, dues books and stamps, subscription blanks, song sheets, pamphlets.  These job delegates signed up their men around the campfires or in the boxcars (“side-door Pullmans” the migrants called them), mailed the money to headquarters, and then followed their recruits to the woods, or to the tents in the open fields where the harvest stiffs unrolled their bindles after twelve hours of work in hundred degree heat without water, shade, or toilets.  But there were some whom the organizers could not reach, and the I.W.W. sent them messages in the form of “stickerettes.”  These “silent agitators” were illustrated slogans on label-sized pieces of gummed paper, many of them drawn by Ralph Chaplin.  They sold for as little as a dollar a thousand, and Chaplin believed that in a few weeks a good “Wob” on the road could plaster them on “every son-of-a-bitch of a boxcar, water tank, pick handle and pitchfork” within a radius of hundreds of miles.

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The stickers were simple and caught the eye.  “What Time Is It? Time to Organize!” shouted a clock.  “Solidarity Takes the Whole Works,” explained a Bunyan-sized workingman with an armload of trains and factories.  The three stars of the One Big Union (Organization, Education, Emancipation) winked bright red over a black and yellow earth.  A “scissorbill”—a workingman without class loyalty—knelt on bony knees and snuffled to the sky, “Now I get me up to work, I pray the Lord I may not shirk.”  But the most fateful stickers to appear between 1915 and 1917, as the nation moved toward war, were those that urged: “SLOW DOWN. The hours are long, the pay is small, so take your time and buck ’em all;” and those on which appeared two portentous symbols: the wooden shoe of sabotage, and the black cat, which, as everybody knew, meant trouble.

The stickerettes I’ve included here are less agitational than most others, but they’re what I’ve got, so enjoy!  The only other stickerette in my collection is all text – in Hungarian.

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Stickerettes at NYU Tamiment Library

The Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU’s Tamiment Library contains close to 30 original stickerettes, i.e., the “silent agitators” I wrote about in my previous post.  I went down to NYC last week to see them in person and had no idea there would be so many different designs.  From what I’ve been reading, some were used as early as the 1910s, while a later one referred to the fighting in Viet Nam (sic).  I also saw a catalogue for an exhibition entitled “Wobbly” 80 Years of Rebel Art that was held at the Labor Archives and Research Center in San Francisco in 1987, so I ordered a copy of my own from AbeBooks.  The catalogue identifies some of the artists who made these stickers (William Henkelman, for example, a sign painter by profession), though most of the creators weren’t artists at all (C.E. Setzer a.k.a. “CES” or “X13” was a construction worker on the Los Angeles aqueduct).  According to the catalogue, “The IWW pioneered the use of these little pieces of gummed paper.  Over the years countless different ones in a variety of sizes were produced in quantities that must total in the millions.  Old and new, they are still in use by the IWW as a simple, succinct method to spread ideas or just to generally raise the consciousness of the passerby.”

I get asked all the time if it’s right or wrong to take stickers off the streets, but seeing the stickerettes at NYU confirmed my dedication to building a sticker archive.  The stickers in my collection are just not available anymore, and some day, I’ll donate the collection to an institution for future research and scholarship.

I.W.W. “stickerettes”

After learning recently about S.D.S. stickers (Students for a Democratic Society) in the U.S., I’ve been expanding my collection with a few more examples like these from the 1970s.

Online today, I came across something even older – stickers from the early 1910s-1920s that were created for the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W) and used as “silent agitators” or “silent organizers.”  On Facebook, the Labor Archives and Research Center at San Francisco State University features six stickers, which at the time were called “stickerettes,” and writes, “they were easy to anonymously stick on surfaces throughout the job site (including the back of a boss).”  In the State of Washington, Centralia College’s Kirk Library also shows a digitized collection of 17 stickerettes.

And in a new book called The Man Who Never Died: The Life, Times and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon, William M. Adler, the author writes, “[t]he novel stickerettes represented a low-cost, high-visibility advertising campaign for the union.”  One from the book is pictured here.  Another book by Gibbs Smith of Joe Hill includes a reference to stickerettes, too.  Below is a screen shot of page 8 from Google books.

Apparently, these stickerettes were printed by the millions.  Working Class Heroes describes how “Hill dispatched caustic, if crude, cartoons to Industrial Solidarity, the union’s newspaper, some of which ended up on silent agitators—stickers meant to slapped up in mess halls, in lumber camps, in city flops and beaneries, and even factory floors.”

All of this in time for the June 5, 2012 vote to recall Wisconsin Governer Scott Walker and his attempts at union-busting.

Vote Yes For Woman Suffrage sticker (1915)

In my search for the earliest U.S. political stickers, I’ve come across overty thirty different “stickerettes” or “silent agitators” produced by the Industrial Workers of the World dating from the mid-1910s to present day. Stickerettes were advertised in I.W.W. pamphlets and newspapers as early as 1917, based on microfilm reels I’ve viewed of the group’s Solidarity newspaper. I don’t have anything else that dates the earliest stickerettes, however. (Search “stickerette” on Stickerkitty to see previous posts on these items.)

However, recently I found this women’s suffrage sticker from 1915 that is dated and affixed to an envelope also dated 1915! (New Jersey voted no in the October 19th referendum, as did New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. New York passed the vote in 1917; Massachusetts in 1920; and Pennsylvania also in 1920. The latter two states passed only after Congress ratified the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote on August 19, 1920.)

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The envelope was sent from the “Penna. Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.” Here is a map published by the league of how the vote was split across the state for and against.

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New “People’s History Archive” Website!

Project History

Initiated in 2015 by the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery and the Libraries and Instructional Technology (LIT) division at St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY), the People’s History Archive features selected street art stickers, posters, and ephemera from around the world dating from the 1910s to present day. Contributors include undergraduate students, young alumni, and faculty who create mini-online interpretive exhibits using items from a Street Art Graphics digital archive and/or from items contributors have selected themselves through off-campus research projects. Items can also be viewed on an interactive timeline and map.

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The original Street Art Graphics digital archive was created in 2004 in a platform called ContentDM, and it now features over 2,600 stickers with another hundred posters, fliers, city cards, one-of-a-kind drawings by street artists, and other street-based ephemera. In 2015, the U.S. Council of Independent Colleges selected the Street Art Graphics collection as one of 42 projects across the country to be included in Artstor’s Shared Shelf Commons, an international digital library of arts and sciences. St. Lawrence received a four-year grant to migrate and build the collection and to enhance its use in teaching and scholarship.

The People’s History Archive also represents a collaboration between the Street Art Graphics digital archive and the Weave, an independent news media project created in 2006 and headquartered in the Global Studies department. Catherine Tedford, gallery director, and John Collins, professor of Global Studies, received a four-year mini-grant from an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities grant to St. Lawrence University entitled “Crossing Boundaries: Re-envisioning the Humanities in the 21st Century.” One component of the project, Weaving the Streets, offers contributors the opportunity to write investigative blog posts about topics of interest that are under-reported in mainstream news media.

The People’s History Archive was built in Drupal by Eric Williams-Bergen, Director of Digital Initiatives at St. Lawrence University.

For more information, see my previous post Weaving the Streets & People’s History Archive (WSPHA) from last year. It’s been fascinating to see the project unfold and to see how websites are conceptualized and designed. There are still a few tweaks to work through, but with this post I’m now ready to go public with it. A dream come true! The subtitle for the site is “street art stickers, posters, ephemera – documenting the creative and complex ways people make use of public space.” The site will feature scans of physical items (i.e., not born-digital photographs, which are featured on the Weaving the Streets blog).

At this point, the plan is to have four umbrella projects and multiple exhibits within each.

Paper Bullets: My work on political stickers from around the world – under construction. I created one exhibit on U.S. Industrial Workers of the World I.W.W. “Stickerettes” or “Silent Agitators” as a model to show students; additional exhibits will follow.

Pegatinas Políticas: In the summer of 2015, Laurel Hurd ’16 expanded her Weaving the Streets experience with an SLU Student Research Fellowship, in which she added approximately 75 Spanish street art stickers to the People’s History Archive and wrote four exhibits:

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Street Art @ SLU: Work from students in my street art course – under construction. To date, one exhibit by Rebecca Clayman ’17 has been published on the German Feminist Movement (1970s to present day). Another two exhibits will be published soon on indigenous/Native American stickers and on culture jamming.

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Weaving the Streets: Work by students and young alumni in the Mellon Humanities grant-funded project – under construction. Sean Morrissey ’16 is working on an exhibit on tourism in Thailand. Carolyn Dellinger ’16, the student who catalogued a group of German spuckies in 2014, is also working on an exhibit on environmental issues and animal rights in the UK.

 

 

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