I’ve always been bothered by those "Property Of Blank University" t-shirts that used to actually be the loaned (or stolen) property of college athletic departments but have now become popular enough that you can find them, for sale, in nearly any university store or gift shop in the US. Few people would assume that somebody with a "Property of" shirt had stolen their clothing. In fact, it’s often impossible to find the shirts except on sale anymore — and rarely from universities themselves.

Here’s my response.


For those that don’t know (and that’s certainly many), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is the nineteenth century French anarchist and mutualist most famous for saying, "La propriété, c’est le vol!" In English: "Property is theft!"

You can buy my t-shifts (red on black, where possible), in my Printfection store. Source SVG is here. Please share variations in a comment.

10 Replies to “Property!”

  1. I see the proliferation of these shirts as having anti-propertarian effects.  Almost every time you see someone wearing one, the shirt is not the property of the university whose name it bears.  What’s more, people now know that the shirts are on sale, and therefore no longer expect the words “Property of Brannigan University” to be true.  That in turn undermines the legitimacy of the claim that by stamping “property of” on an object you can keep it legally tethered.  If people don’t take such claims seriously when it comes to shirts, they’re less likely to take them seriously when it comes to CDs, software, microchips, and other objects whose initial owners want to have their property and be paid for it, too.

  2. I would like a hat, like a Che Guevera hat, but with a stylized image of Proudhon instead. The face from the painting featured in the Wikipedia article would work well. Does Printfection offer hats?

  3. Property of the state

    Private property of Ayn Rand

    Privatized property of Milton Friedman

    Property with Value Added by The Worker

  4. Some Guy: “Vol” means “robbery” or “theft” in French and it is the word used in the original quote. I’m not thrilled with it, but I couldn’t really think of anything else more appropriate to put in there.

  5. @benjamin

    Try “voleur”, it means thief (according to babelfish) and it makes a bit more sense

    a circle-A would also work well

  6. Great idea.  I just bought one; I hadn’t heard of before — I’m glad to find out about an alternative to CafePress.  If the quality is good, maybe I’ll make a store of my own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *