"Wanted posters are a form of Public Notice. We tend to think of public notices as 'lost cat' posters these days, but originally they were much more formal documents. Think of the town crier gathering the citizens of the village, and reading the proclamation from the King, before nailing it to a post for all to read - that's a public notice. A Public Notice was the Law. Wanted Notices are legal contracts, and were almost always issued by a Sheriff or other duly-appointed lawman, whose name and location were printed at the bottom. If you produced the 'wanted' person, the sheriff was legally obliged to give you the reward offered, no questions asked.
Wanted posters were mostly intended as circulars - sent to other lawmen in surrounding communities - and weren't often tacked up all over town, as shown in most movies. Rewards were a source of extra income for deputies. However, a few posters would also be posted prominently at strategic locations - the post office, general store, etc. - in the hopes that a citizen might have information about the fugitive."
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The latest from Ross MacDonald's blog is an in-depth look at what went into the creation of a wanted poster for the new "Johah Hex" movie. The amount of work put into the final poster, featuring hand-set vintage type and a custom carved linocut, is simply amazing. The article also includes some interesting historical research: