...And Now to You, Subscribe!
This Italian war bond poster, issued in Milan in 1918, portrays an Italian soldier with crutches, crippled by the loss of his left leg, appealing to the viewer to subscribe to the loan. The image of the soldier calls to mind Enrico Toti, an important figure in Italian wartime and postwar propaganda. Born in Rome in 1882, Toti lost his left leg at the age of 24 while working for the Italian railways. Determined not to be limited by his disability, in September 1911 Toti began a 29,000-kilometer bicycle trip that took him through several European countries. The following year he set out on a similar trip though Africa, and cycled from Alexandria, Egypt, to the Egyptian border with Sudan, where he was halted by British authorities, who considered the journey too dangerous and sent him back to Cairo. When Italy entered World War I, Toti tried to join the Italian army, but was turned down because of his disability. After serving at the frontlines with his bicycle as a civilian volunteer, he eventually was given permission, following intervention by the Ministry of Defense and the Duke of Aosta, to join a prestigious Bersaglieri bicycle battalion. Toti later was killed during the Sixth Battle of the Isonzo, in August 1916. A legend took hold that as he lay dying on the battlefield he hurled his crutch at the enemy. A statue in the Villa Borghese in Rome honoring Toti was inaugurated in June 1922 by King Victor Emmanuel III. The poster is by Aroldo Bonzagni (1887‒1918), a painter and illustrator associated with the Italian Futurist movement, who died in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918.
Gustavo Modiano & Company, Milan, Italy
Title in Original Language
...Ed ora a voi, sottoscrivete!
Type of Item
1 print (poster) : lithograph, color ; 100 x 70 centimeters
- Gino Speranza, “The Tale of Toti,” Atlantic Monthly 122 (July 1918).
- Stephen McVeigh and Nicola Cooper, editors, Men after War (New York: Routledge, 2013).
- Thomas Row, “Mobilizing the Nation: Italian Propaganda in the Great War,” Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, Volume 24, Design, Culture, Identity (Miami Beach, FL: Florida International University Board of Trustees on behalf of The Wolfsonian-FIU, 2002).
Last updated: September 11, 2017