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In Design
Selected Posts

By sue

100 years of sex: std posters through the years

On 01, May 2011 | In Design, History, Selected Posts | By sue

The San Francisco City Clinic is marking its 100th anniversary with an online exhibition of 100 safe sex posters from the past 100 years. It’s really illuminating to see the diversity of approaches–friendly, funny, sensationalist, solemn—and how they illustrate our changing attitudes about sex and sexually-transmitted diseases.

Some of my favorites from the collection:

A few of the posters are decidedly cheerful (in aesthetic, at least):

std poster-cheerful

std poster-cheerful2a

std poster-condomsa

There are quite a few bizarre posters in the collection:

std poster-pulpa

std poster-old fashioned2a

Lots of great graphic design and illustration, ranging from old-fashioned Americana to a more stark, Soviet look.

std poster-old fashioned

std poster-graphica

Lots of patriotic overtones as well:

std poster-patriotic

Charmingly racist (but patriotic!) WWII posters:

std poster-axisa

std poster-axis2a

Often women (especially prostitutes) are painted as monstrous, devious, and dangerous.

std poster-scary women

std poster-scary women2

Although some posters take the opposite approach: don’t get an STD and pass it on to your poor, innocent wife.

std poster-bridea

{Found via Vintage Ads}

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  1. Thanks – now I’m warned! 😮 I’ve been looking for Swedish posters and pamphlets from the same era – but no luck on the web. Guess I’ll have to go to one of the university libraries – they are supposed to archive anything printed in the country since 1651 – by a law issued by the King!
    (Being unpopular with the ladies is a good protection, too…)