V sign, Victory, V, 1943, WWII, Winston, Churchill, British prime minister,

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TOM HILL - Designer

Joined August 2010

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Sizing Information

Extra Large
10.0" x 14.0"
Large
6.0" x 8.5"
Medium
3.9" x 5.5"
Small
2.9" x 4.0"

Features

  • Removable, individually die-cut vinyl
  • Ideal for smooth flat surfaces like laptops, journals, windows, etc.
  • 1/8th of an inch white border around each design

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Artist's Description

V sign, Victory, 1943, WWII, Winston, Churchill, British prime minister,

A commonly repeated legend claims that the two-fingered salute or V sign derives from a gesture made by longbowmen fighting in the English and Welsh26 archers at the Battle of Agincourt (1415) during the Hundred Years’ War, but no historical primary sources support this contention.

This origin legend dictates that the English and Welsh archers who were captured by the French had their index and middle fingers cut off so that they couldn’t operate their longbows, and that the V Sign was used by uncaptured and victorious archers in a display of defiance against the enemy.

By July 1941, the emblematic use of the letter V had spread through occupied Europe. On July 19, Prime Minister Winston Churchill referred approvingly to the V for Victory campaign in a speech, from which point he started using the V hand sign. Early on he sometimes gestured palm in (sometimes with a cigar between the fingers).

Later in the war, he used palm out. After aides explained to the aristocratic Churchill what the palm in gesture meant to other classes, he made sure to use the appropriate sign.

Yet the double-entendre of the gesture might have contributed to its popularity, “for a simple twist of hand would have presented the dorsal side in a mocking snub to the common enemy”.

Other allied leaders used the sign as well; since 1942, Charles de Gaulle used the V sign in every speech until 1969.

The V sign is a hand gesture in which the index and middle fingers are raised and parted, while the other fingers are clenched. It has various meanings, depending on the cultural context and how it is presented.

When displayed with the palm inward towards the signer, it has long been an offensive gesture in some Commonwealth nations. In the 1940s, during World War II, a campaign by the Western Allies to use the sign with the back of the hand towards the signer (U+270C ✌ VICTORY HAND1 in Unicode) as a “V for Victory” sign proved quite effective.

During the Vietnam War, in the 1960s, the “V sign” was widely adopted by the counterculture as a symbol of peace. Shortly thereafter, it also became adopted as a gesture used in photographs, especially in Japan.

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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