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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Peace-Out Man - The History of the Peace Sign

The History of the Peace Sign
Have you ever wondered?

Peace sign jewelry is so popular and never seems to go out of style. I just finished yet another Peace sign charm for a customer and the thought hit me, why do we use this little symbol for peace? I will share with you what I have found out, (and some really pretty peace sign jewelry from the JewelryonEtsy Team too!)

As far as I have deciphered, the symbol did not exist before 1958 and came about as part of the British Nuclear Disarmament Movement. There are two stories that prevail:

One is that, in 1958, an English gentleman and peace activist,  Gerald Herbert Holtom worked with the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War.  As a dedicated peacemaker, he, himself was in a state of despair. Thus, he had drawn himself in this state; standing with palms outstretched and downwards, " in the manner of Goyas's peasant before the firing squad." According to Holtom, he "formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle around it."

 Ken Kolsbun, author of the book Peace: The Biography of a Symbol, reported that Holtom expressed regret in not designing the peace symbol with the joyful lifting of arms towards the sky. For most of Holtom's life he would draw only the upright peace symbol.

Semaphore System

Another prevailing story of the peace sign's beginning's also surrounds the British Nuclear Disarmament Movement.  It comes from semaphore, a Naval code of symbol representation that conveys information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags, paddles, or occasionally bare or gloved hands. Semaphores were adopted and widely used in the maritime world in the 19th century .

As you can see above, the semaphore signals for "N" and "D" (Nuclear Disarmament), when superimposed, do make a peace sign and this is the second theory of how the symbol came to be.

Rough Magicals - Peace Sign Metal Chain Connectors

Endless Bounty - Blue Swarovski Crystal Peace Sign Bracelet

1958 is not the first appearance of the actual symbol. In fact, it has been used for evil both in modern times and for thousands of years, with 60 B.C being the earliest date I found. Here, we are only interested in the symbol's positive meaning of strangers communicating love with kindness.

Abacus Bead Creations                            Satin Doll Co.

Dashery - Peace Sign Toe Ring    


Thank you so much for reading!