It started as a rallying image for the British anti-nuclear movement in the late ‘50s and went on to become one of the world’s most instantly recognizable—and widely adopted—symbols. But did you know that the iconic peace sign was originally derived from the semaphore alphabet?
Gerald Holtom, a designer and former World War II conscientious objector from West London, persuaded DAC [Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War] that their aims would have greater impact if they were conveyed in a visual image. The “Ban the Bomb” symbol was born.
He considered using a Christian cross motif but, instead, settled on using letters from the semaphore—or flag-signalling—alphabet, super-imposing N (uclear) on D (isarmament) and placing them within a circle symbolising Earth.