San Francisco: [Communication Company], . Original poster offset printed on recto only in a dark black green yellow on white paper. 22 x 18 in., framed 24 x 20 in. Very good. Item #5442
The rare 1% Free poster produced by The Diggers - San Francisco’s mid ‘60s radical anarchist performance troupe and mutual aid organization, who drew influence in their nonconformist militancy from the 17th century agrarian socialist organization of the same name. The Diggers combined radical community action, including a free store and free food in Golden Gate Park, with street theater, happenings, and pranks.
This evocative image, which later appeared on the back of the Digger Papers, was taken from a turn-of-the-century photograph by Arnold Genthe of two Chinese Tong men in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake. The faces and hands of the figures in this print were designed by Stanley Mouse, and incorporated into the poster by Mike McKibbon. Inspired in part by the Hells Angels, the 1% Free slogan was intentionally ambiguous; fearmongers at one point falsely suggested that it was evidence of a tithe instituted by the Diggers on the businesses of Haight-Ashbury. The more common interpretation indicated that the Diggers were part of a small segment of society that was actually free. Though this slogan and graphic featured prominently at several of the later Diggers happenings, the poster is a scarce artifact from the influential group.