1% FREE. Original '1% Free' poster, designed by Peter Berg and Don Cochrane.
1% FREE. Original '1% Free' poster, designed by Peter Berg and Don Cochrane.
1% FREE. Original '1% Free' poster, designed by Peter Berg and Don Cochrane.
1% FREE. Original '1% Free' poster, designed by Peter Berg and Don Cochrane.
1% FREE. Original '1% Free' poster, designed by Peter Berg and Don Cochrane.
1% FREE. Original '1% Free' poster, designed by Peter Berg and Don Cochrane.

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1% FREE. Original '1% Free' poster, designed by Peter Berg and Don Cochrane.

SF: The Diggers, 1967. 55.8x44.7cm. Printed in black on white stock. The illustration was drawn from a turn-of-the-century photograph by Arnold Genthe of two Chinese Tong 'assassins' smoking and leaning hipster-style against a brick wall on a street corner in San Francisco's Chinatown. Above them is the ideogram for revolution (from the I Ching), at their feet is the motto '1% FREE'.


This evocative slogan was intentionally ambiguous, inspired in part by the Hell's Angels' 1% patch worn on their jackets, and in part by the notion of the Diggers as 1% of the poulation doing things for free. Peter Coyote has described how the slogan was ambiguously received at first, some believing that it meant that the Haight merchants should donate 1% of their profits to the community (highlighting the uneasy relationship between the Diggers and the HIP merchants), others that it meant only 1% of the population lived autonomously. The 1% motto holds further resonance today as a shorthand term denoting the vast inequality between the ultra-wealthy 1% and the rest of the population.


The first five-foot high posters were pasted up by the Diggers throughout San Francisco's various neighbourhoods in late May 1967, and this smaller version betrays its origins as one of many to have adorned a wall, and one of the few to have survived. Its folds and creasing, corner tack holes, water edge-stains and lower corner paper loss attest to its former life, perhaps once on the street, reflected in both its image and the philosophy of those who placed it there. Examples in better condition do appear from time to time, but few with this patina of authenticity.

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