10 of The Most Powerful Printed Images in the World

10 of The Most Powerful Printed Images in the World

We’ve scoured newspapers and magazines, libraries and archives to bring you some of the most powerful printed images in the world, from 1980s New York to 15th Century Germany.

Around The World


The first printed map in Europe came from the German city of Augsburg in 1472.  It was in The Etymologies, an encyclopaedia originally compiled by the Archbishop of Seville in the 7th Century.  Called a T and O map, it is stylised and simple.  In fact, it’s so abstract that it barely looks like a map to the modern reader – but its historical importance is plain for everyone to see.

What Was That Noise?


First published in the February 1974 edition of Reader’s Digest, photographer Jack Bradley took an enduring and endearing photo of a young deaf boy called Harold Whittles.   It captures his wide-eyed surprise as a doctor gives him a hearing aid and he hears for the first time.

The End of The War

Caption from the August 27, 1945, issue of LIFE. "In the middle of New York's Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers."

On August 14 1945, Japan announced its surrender, ending WWII.  In Times Square, Alfred Eisenstadt snapped a sailor kissing a nurse, a picture that ended up on the cover of Life magazine.  What most people don’t realise, is that the sailor didn’t know who he was embracing; previously he had been running around grabbing women, young and old, and kissing them. (I hope she thumped him afterwards.)

Petals For Peace


Bernie Boston’s famous photo, first published in the Washington Star, was taken on October 21, 1967 during a march to the Pentagon protesting the Vietnam war.   A floppy haired blond man, in a very comfortable looking cardigan, gently places a flower into the barrel of a rifle held by a member of the National Guard.

Today is the Day


Regiomantus AKA Johann Müller, has been called the most important astronomer of the 15th Century.   As part of his works, he released an astounding calendar that included details of eclipses and even a description of a comet.  Printed in Venice in 1482, its illustrations weren’t just beautiful but mechanical, featuring spinning discs and a brass arm.

Smart Can be Silly


In 1951 American photographer Arthur Sasse took a wonderfully playful shot of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out after leaving a celebration held for his 72nd birthday.    The boffin liked the picture so much, he used it on greetings cards sent to friends. Sasse’s work has been seen on many a student wall since then.

An English Knight

first book_euroffice

In 1476 William Caxton introduced the printing press to England (and was the first man to print a book in English).   In the same year, the first printed edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was released.  This simply charming illustration of the parfait gentil knight is an important moment in the UK’s literary history.

Who’s the Bad Guy Now?


Bruce Davidson’s book Subway chronicles the decay in 1980s New York.   Its most striking photo is of a man in a red jacket and baseball cap, pointing a gun at a fellow train passenger cowering in fear.  It looks like a crime is taking place – until you learn the man in red is a policeman who’s apprehended a mugger.

What Kind of Creature is That?


Published in Zurich in 1551, The Histories of the Animals is a bestiary that contains Albrecht Dürer’s famous speculative drawing of an Indian rhinoceros.   Dürer had never seen a rhino, so based his illustration on a description and someone’s sketch.  His beast looks like it’s been plated with armour covered in serpent’s scales and there’s even a hint of bat’s wing in there too

Give Back my Cigar


Yousuf Karsh, a Canadian-Armenian, got a striking photo of Churchill for Life Magazine in 1941.   Karsh had only two minutes to take the picture and wanted the PM to stop smoking.  Churchill refused.   The photographer walked up, took the cigar out of his mouth and snapped the famous portrait.

 What did you think of these images? 

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