In 1942, Aleister Crowley, a British occultist, claimed to have invented the usage of a V-sign in February 1941 as a magical foil to the Nazis' use of the Swastika.
He maintained that he passed this to friends at the BBC, and to the British Naval Intelligence Division through his connections in MI5, eventually gaining the approval of Winston Churchill. President Richard Nixon used the gesture to signal victory in the Vietnam War, an act which became one of his best-known trademarks.
This happened because, in 1971, show-jumper Harvey Smith was disqualified for making a televised V sign to the judges after winning the British Show Jumping Derby at Hickstead. Sometimes foreigners visiting the countries mentioned above use the "two-fingered salute" without knowing it is offensive to the natives, for example when ordering two beers in a noisy pub, or in the case of the United States president George H. Bush, who, while touring Australia in 1992, attempted to give a "peace sign" to a group of farmers in Canberra—who were protesting about U. farm subsidies—and instead gave the insulting V sign.
This origin legend states that archers who were captured by the French had their index and middle fingers cut off so that they could no longer operate their longbows, and that the V sign was used by uncaptured and victorious archers in a display of defiance against the enemy.
A more colorful account of this practice claims it was influenced by the American figure skater Janet Lynn during the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Hokkaidō.
She fell during a free-skate period, but continued to smile even as she sat on the ice.
Both players were in their hotel bar drinking alcohol after the Scottish defeat to The Netherlands until around 11 am the next morning, meaning that both of the players breached the SFA discipline code before the incident as well, but the attitude shown by the V sign was considered to be so rude that the SFA decided never to include these players in the national line-up again.
was recorded by photographer Nigel Snowdon and has become an icon of both Mc Queen and the film itself.
For a time in the UK, "a Harvey (Smith)" became a way of describing the insulting version of the V sign, much as "the word of Cambronne" is used in France, or "the Trudeau salute" is used to describe the one-fingered salute in Canada.Buoyed by this success, the BBC started the "V for Victory" campaign, for which they put in charge the assistant news editor Douglas Ritchie posing as “Colonel Britton”.Ritchie suggested an audible V using its Morse code rhythm (three dots and a dash).Between 19 a group of anthropologists including Desmond Morris studied the history and spread of European gestures and found the rude version of the V-sign to be basically unknown outside the British Isles.In his Gestures: Their Origins and Distribution, published in 1979, Morris discussed various possible origins of this sign but came to no definite conclusion: because of the strong taboo associated with the gesture (its public use has often been heavily penalised).
Because the hippies of the day often flashed this sign (palm out) while saying "Peace", it became popularly known (through association) as the peace sign..