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For gold & glory – rare Pancho Villa ‘gringo’ recruitment poster goes on sale

Atencion Gringo – a rare Pancho Villa poster designed to recruit Americans

A scarce Pancho Villa recruitment poster – designed to attract Americans to fight in the Mexican Revolution – has been listed for sale on AbeBooks.com.

Villa (1878-1923) was a key figure in the revolution and has gone down in Mexican folklore as a heroic leader. The dramatic poster, which offers riches and glory to anyone who rides with Villa, reads:

Atención Gringo

For Gold & Glory

Come South of the Border and Ride With Pancho Villa

El Liberator of Mexico!

Weekly Payments in Gold To Dynamiters * Machine Gunners * Railroaders

Enlistments Taken In Juarez, Mexico

January 1915

Viva Villa! Viva Revolución!

The poster is priced at $2,390 and is offered by Anniroc Rare Books in Los Angeles. It is the only one available on AbeBooks. Few original posters from this era survive because most were pasted to walls or noticeboards.

At this time, posters were an important recruitment tool for the military. Two iconic posters were issued in World War I – Britain’s Lord Kitchener “Wants You” and America’s Uncle Sam “I Want You for the US Army.”

A wealthy landowner, Villa commanded the División del Norte (Division of the North) in the Constitutionalist Army and his victories contributed to the defeat of president Victoriano Huerta in 1914.

From 1915 onwards, the revolution became a civil war between competing factions looking to seize power in the vacuum left by Huerta’s defeat.

Any gringos who joined Villa’s army in January 1915 would probably not have found gold or glory. Villa’s forces were defeated at the Battle of Celaya in April 1915 by the army of fellow revolutionary Venustiano Carranza. Villa escaped with his life. A year later, he began to cross the border and attack US towns, which forced President Wilson to send an expedition of 5,000 soldiers to pursue Villa through Mexico.

Original 1916 reward posters issued by US authorities in Columbus. New Mexico, which Villa attacked, have sold for $800 and are more common than original posters issued by Villa himself. Incidentally, the gringos offered $5,000 for information leading to Villa’s capture.

Villa was assassinated in July 1923 when his car was attacked by multiple gunmen, who were probably acting on orders from Villa’s political rivals.

He remains an important figure in popular culture. There have been more than 30 films made about Villa’s life. Yul Brynner and Telly Savalas are among the actors to have played him. His depiction in history books varies from brutal murderer to gallant revolutionary who never received the due he deserved.

See the poster

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