Peace, Man: Symbol Turns 50

The sign has endured for half a century now
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2008 1:39 PM CDT
Jeri Wingfield holds a flag with a peace symbol on it during a demonstration against the war in Iraqi, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, March 19, 2008.    (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – The peace symbol, an inspiration for decades of anti-war movements and one of the most recognizable hieroglyphics, turns 50 today. The symbol was introduced in 1958 at a British rally against the atomic bomb. “I drew myself, a man in despair, and put a circle around it to represent the world," said graphic designer Gerald Hotom.

The symbol was the icon for the anti-Vietnam war movement and became ubiquitous in marches for civil rights, women’s rights, environmentalism, gay rights, and modern-day war protests. The sign also has a history of commercialization, appearing on T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers—even ice cream cartons. But it has avoided being trademarked, meaning everyone can claim the peace, man.