What is the Swarf, and why should you beware it? More importantly, how can I keep this scary metal dog from biting me? I can't stop looking at scary utopian British posters from the mid-twentieth century, with their Googie optimism.

The Guardian ran a gallery of mid-century British posters that harken back to a time of precarious optimism, and many of them are both hilarious and heart-rendingly sad. For one thing, there are a whole series of posters for Shell/British Petroleum, explaining just how safe you can feel with Shell. Ugh. And the safety posters for the then-new highways as well as various industrial settings show a cheery excitement about Britain's shiny modern future.

Oh, and the Swarf? Apparently it's an old term for metal shavings or filings, left over from metalworking. And if you're not careful around them, they do bite. More images at the link. [Guardian]

Beware the Swarf! Prevent loose heads! Posters reveal the secret dangers of Britain's race to modernity

Beware the Swarf! Prevent loose heads! Posters reveal the secret dangers of Britain's race to modernity

Beware the Swarf! Prevent loose heads! Posters reveal the secret dangers of Britain's race to modernity

Beware the Swarf! Prevent loose heads! Posters reveal the secret dangers of Britain's race to modernity

Beware the Swarf! Prevent loose heads! Posters reveal the secret dangers of Britain's race to modernity

Beware the Swarf! Prevent loose heads! Posters reveal the secret dangers of Britain's race to modernity

Beware the Swarf! Prevent loose heads! Posters reveal the secret dangers of Britain's race to modernity

Beware the Swarf! Prevent loose heads! Posters reveal the secret dangers of Britain's race to modernity