Millions of copies of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster were printed on the eve of World War II, but never displayed. Now the message has taken on a new lease of life in our troubled peacetime.
The simple five word inspirational message is the very model of British restraint and stiff upper lip. Keep calm and carry on.
In 1939, with war against Germany looming, the Government designed three posters to steady the public's resolve and maintain morale. These featured the crown of King George VI set against a bold red background, and three distinctive slogans - "Freedom is in Peril", "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory", and "Keep Calm and Carry On". Some incredible inspirational quotes from unknown authors.
Two-and-a-half million copies of "Keep Calm" were printed, to be distributed in the event of a national catastrophe, but remained in storage throughout the war. The message was all but forgotten until 2000, when a copy was discovered in a box of books bought at auction by Stuart Manley, a bookseller from Northumberland.
"I didn't know anything about it but I showed it to my wife. We both liked it so we decided to frame it and put it in the shop," explains Mr Manley.
"Lots of people saw it and wanted to buy it. We refused all offers but eventually we decided we should get copies made for sale."
Sales remained modest until 2005, when it was featured as a Christmas gift idea in a national newspaper supplement.
"All hell broke loose," says Mr Manley. "Our website broke down under the strain, the phone never stopped ringing and virtually every member of staff had to be diverted into packing posters."
Following the end of WWII, most of the posters are believed to have been pulped, never having seen the light of day. Only two original copies of this motivational poster are known to have survived.Thanks to a chance discovery in a dusty box of books, the soothing entreaty is finally having its intended effect, bringing comfort to a nation in turmoil.