A brief history of bumper stickers, decade by decade

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The history of bumper stickers actually starts before cars. Horse-drawn carriages had painted fly nets. Early cars had paper window decals. But everything changed in 1946 when Forest P. Gill invented bumper stickers after finding a surplus of self-adhesive paper from the war. Over the decades bumper stickers have gone from solely being marketing tools to symbols of a drivers’ unique identities. Here are eight iconic bumper stickers throughout the decades.

40s: Tourism Stickers

The first adopters of bumper stickers were tourist spots. Tourists got to take home souvenirs and the tour spots got their ads on thousands of cars across the nation.

Photo Credit: Flickr, CityofStPete

50s: Political Stickers

For better or for worse, the political history of bumper stickers begins in the 50s where they were first used during the Ike v Eisenhower elections. 

Britannica, Collection of David J. and Janice L. Frent

Peace Icon Vector Logo Template Illustration Design EPS 10.
60s: Peace Sign 

Peace stickers reflected the popularity of the hippie movement of the 60s and 70s.

Getty Images, Sigit Mulyo Utomo

Peace and Love retro-styled outlined text design with a peace-heart symbol in green, magenta, orange and yellow. Type style is my own design.
70s: The Hippie Movement Continues 

The peace sign of the 60s carried its momentum into the 70s, with phrases like “peace and love” and “make love, not war” becoming popular on bumper stickers. The 70s was also known for its signature bold and colorful font shown in the image above.

Getty Images, LisaAFischer

Baby on board warning sign in the back window of a car to advise cars behind of the presence of a toddler
80s: Baby on Board

In 1984, Michael Lerner was driving his nephew home when he realized his cautious driving was annoying the other drivers. To alert other drivers of his predicament he created the iconic “Baby on Board” sticker. The sticker is still widely popular today and several parodies have been made as well.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, StockSolutions

90s: Radio Stations 

In the 90s, radio station stickers were a fun way to let everyone on the road know what you’re listening to. 

Photo Credits: Flickr, James Cridland

Photographic illustration of a complete family including dog pet standing next to each other and holding hands. Its in square format, and has a black background for copy space
2000s: Family Stick Figures

If you’ve driven behind a minivan, you’ve most likely seen these family stick figures. Whether you have one child or several, or have pets, you can get a custom sticker showing off your family.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, Michael Wels

2010s: Coexist

These bumper stickers promote peace and unity by putting various religious symbols side by side to write out the word “coexist”.

Photo Credit: Flickr, Patrick Byrne

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Peace Icon Vector Logo Template Illustration Design EPS 10.
Peace and Love retro-styled outlined text design with a peace-heart symbol in green, magenta, orange and yellow. Type style is my own design.
Baby on board warning sign in the back window of a car to advise cars behind of the presence of a toddler
Photographic illustration of a complete family including dog pet standing next to each other and holding hands. Its in square format, and has a black background for copy space

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