Bumper Stickers – A Souvenir of Self Expression

Prior to the invention of the automobile, people would attach advertisements to their buggies using notes. When cars came around, the advertisements continued even though cars didn’t have bumpers. It wasn’t until 1927 that bumpers were added to cars to make them safer.

With bumpers, drivers added messages to their vehicles using wire. The messages didn’t last long because the cardboard or metal used for the messages would quickly deteriorate.

World War II changed the future of messaging on cars as bumper stickers were invented. Forest Gill, a screen printer, was left with a surplus of paper with adhesive backing and fluorescent paint used by the military. He created the concept of bumper stickers.

When people visited tourist sites they would often leave with a bumper sticker advertisement for that tourist site. While the bumper sticker would often be added without the vehicle owner’s approval, they would leave them on to showcase their travels.

When Dwight Eisenhower was running for President, the “I like Ike” bumper sticker became popular. That led to an expansion of the view of how bumper stickers might be used. Today, bumper stickers are one way to express our self-identity, our causes, our faith, or just to share a humorous expression. Bumper stickers are thought of as free speech. In a Supreme Court decision, laws restricting obscure language on bumper stickers were struck down.

Beginnings are often opportunities. With our increasing concern for the environment, repurposing has become an opportunity for new beginnings.

In a day when technology allows people to express their thoughts widely, it’s interesting that bumper stickers are still a popular way of self-expression and identity.

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“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” – Oscar Wilde

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.