The CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) symbol started life as the emblem of the British anti-nuclear movement but over the years it has become an international sign for peace.
The symbol for CND was designed in 1958 by the late British designer Gerald Holtom (1914-1985).
Holtom was responsible for designing the banners and placards that were to be carried on the march. He wanted to design a graphic symbol that would reinforce the message of the thousands of protesters who took part in a 50-mile march from London to Aldermaston in Berkshire.
Holtom originally considered using the Christian cross symbol within a circle but, instead, settled on using letters from the flag semaphore alphabet, super-imposing N (uclear) on D (isarmament) and placing them within a circle symbolising Earth.
He later wrote to Hugh Brock, editor of Peace News, and gave a different, more personal explanation for his idea.
“I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it. It was ridiculous at first and such a puny thing.”
In Holtom’s personal notes, the designer recalls then turning the design into a badge. "I made a drawing of it on a small piece of paper the size of a sixpence and pinned it on to the lapel of my jacket and forgot it," he wrote. "In the evening I went to the post office. The girl behind the counter looked at me and said, 'What is that badge you are wearing?' I looked down in some surprise and saw the ND symbol pinned on my lapel. I felt rather strange and uneasy wearing a badge. 'Oh, that is the new peace symbol,' I said. 'How interesting, are there many of them?' 'No, only one, but I expect there will be quite a lot before long.'"
In the U.K. the symbol has remained the logo of CND since the late 1950s, but internationally it has taken on a broader message signifying peace.
CND has never registered the sign as a trademark, arguing that "a symbol of freedom, it is free for all". It has now appeared on millions of mugs, T-shirts, rings and bizarrely, it has also made an appearance on packets of Lucky Strike cigarettes.