1% FREE.


1% FREE.

SF: Diggers, 1967. Original poster, designed by Peter Berg. Printed in deep turquoise on white paper. 56x44.5cm.

The illustration, which later featured on the back cover of "The Digger Papers", 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 Jackson Street 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 population doing things for free.

The first five-foot high posters were pasted up by the Diggers throughout San Francisco's various neighbourhoods "before the Summer of Love", according to Peter Coyote (probably in May 1967). In "Ringolevio", Emmett Grogan wrote about how he, Coyote and several others "posted them on walls throughout Chinatown and all over the city, to the consternation of the Chinese and the wonderment of everyone". Hardly any of those have survived, as the paste used to display them meant they were almost impossible to remove from the walls. Smaller posters, such as this one, followed, though these too have become very scarce.

In "Sleeping Where I Fall", Coyote recalled how the slogan was at first ambiguously received, 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 meaning was always opaque, and even Peter Berg admitted he didn't know exactly what the slogan meant, just that it was evocative.

Small tape mark to verso; single pin hole to centre top edge; overall faint creasing; but o/w an excellent copy of the quintessential Digger poster.

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