If you are well-travelled in the United Kingdom, the chances are that you have come across a “Bill Stickers is Innocent” notice.
Who is Bill Stickers? And is he innocent? This is a question that many have, and many continue to wonder!
It turns out that the whole “Bill Stickers” phenomenon is a case of good old-fashioned British humour, as we will show in this article.
The story of Bill Stickers dates back to 1960s United Kingdom – so over 50 years ago,
Faced with too many people sticking posters up around the UK, it was time for the authorities to get involved.
In an act called “fly posting”, people would illegally put up posters – usually for either marketing or protest-based purposes.
So to combat this, authorities decided it was time to get tough on fly posting, and stated that anyone caught putting posters up illegally would be prosecuted.
Great British Humour
To get their message across, the authorities wrote “Bill Stickers Will Be Prosecuted” – referring to those who would stick posters up.
But if one didn’t know any better, they may believe that the signs relate to a person named Bill Stickers, and how they are due to be prosecuted.
So with good old-fashioned British humour running rampant, some decided to take this as a chance to take advantage of the play on words.
They would write – as seen in the picture at the top of the article – that “Bill Stickers is Innocent”, next to these posters. So basically, that the new posters were incorrect, and that they were discussing prosecuting an innocent man!
The Newspaper Stories
Newspapers in the United States around the time were always happy to report on the Bill Stickers situation.
One New York-based newspaper named The Olean Herald reported on the following:
“A countryman named William Stickers, flying to London to escape from rural justice, was appalled at reading on a wall: ‘Bill Stickers Beware!’ He went a little further, but reading again, ‘Bill Stickers will be punished with the utmost rigour of the law,’ gave himself up for lost and surrendered.”-The Olean Herald
So, it was a piece of humour that was enjoyed by Americans, as well as the British.
The present day
With the advent of the internet and technology in general, advertising has now moved onto digital formats, as opposed to sticking up posters.
But in many locations, the “Bill Stickers is Innocent” message remains standing strong, and is a reminder of a time where pre-internet, comedy very much remained.