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Posts Tagged ‘Puck’

Political Skeletons

Posted by Laurie Frost on October 20, 2013

My plan today was to search the Library of Congress for public domain Halloween theme images, but I was distracted by the number of political cartoons that surfaced with a search of the word “skeleton.” Some could easily have appeared in the editorial pages of  this morning’s paper, such as this one, published in 1873, 140 years ago: “The American juggernaut. Everything noble, patriotic, and progressive is crushed beneath the remorseless tread of that mammoth monster of corruption, cruelty, and fraud, the vampire rings of capital,”  by Matthew Morgan.

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The Justice Department is filing suit against several states over new restrictions on voting passed in 2013; Death at the polls, and free from “federal interference” by Thomas Nash for Harpers in 1879 is described by the Library of Congress as “Skeleton ‘solid Southern shot gun’ holding shotgun at polls, to prevent African Americans from voting.”

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Here’s one reminiscent of current controversies over immigration:

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Described by the Library of Congress as “Caricature showing Uncle Sam holding paper ‘Protest against Russian exclusion of Jewish Americans’ and looking in shock at Chinese skeleton ‘American exclusion of Chinese’ in closet,” this appeared in Puck in 1912.

Another “skeleton in the closet”: human rights abuses: A Skeleton of His Own by Udo Keppler was published in Puck in 1903. It “shows Uncle Sam holding a paper labeled ‘Protest against Russian Outrage’; he is standing with his back to a slightly open door revealing a skeleton labeled ‘Lynchings’ and holding a handgun and rope in his closet, he looks at the skeleton, realizing he is caught in a double-standard.”

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Finally, food safety is the topic of this Puck illustration, Watch the Professor, published in 1906, presents  “an oversized man labeled ‘Beef Trust’, with skeleton face, performing a magic trick on a stage by taking ‘Diseased Livestock’ and pushing them through a tube labeled ‘Packingtown’ to produce packaged ‘Pure Meat Products’. A diminutive man, ‘The Prof’s Assistant’, wearing a cap labeled ‘Inspector’ is standing on the stage on the left.”

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Justice and Corruption

Posted by Laurie Frost on December 29, 2011

These are from the Library of Congress’s Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Not much has changed in a hundred years — or, in the case of the Bruegel print at the end of the post — 500 years.

The first four images are by Udo Keppler and were published in Puck. I’ve copied the Library of Congress’s summaries for the illustrations. Although the actors may not be familiar to us, their behavior and values seem altogether too familiar.

The man highest up. LC-DIG-ppmsca-26345

By Udo Keppler.  LoC Summary: Illustration shows a large flaming hand labeled “Guilt” emerging from dark clouds pointing to a man’s downfall as the institutions labeled “Business Reputation, Financial Standing, Social Position, Respectability, [and] Church Membership” that he has worked to build up crumble as lightning bolts labeled “Public Enlightenment”, revealing his corrupt practices, strike them. Published in Puck, v. 65, no. 1665 (1909 January 27).


By Udo Keppler. LoC Summary: Illustration shows three men labeled “Riot, Lynching, [and] Violence” burning a female figure labeled “Law and Order” at the stake; she is bound to the stake with ribbons labeled “Prejudice” and “Defiance”. Puck, v. 53, no. 1377 (1903 July 22).


By Udo Keppler. LoC Summary:  Illustration shows Uncle Sam standing next to a cannon labeled “Dept. of Justice” that is shooting at a floating target labeled, from the outer rim to bull’s-eye, “Scapegoats and Dummies, Appraisers, Inspectors, and Weighers, Trust Supt. and Managers, Corrupt Civil Service Officials, Sugar Trust Directors, [and] High Govt. Officers”. The target has two holes on the bottom, Uncle Sam is telling the shooter to “aim higher”. Puck, v. 66, no. 1710 (1909 December 8)

Get after the substance, not the shadow. LC-DIG-ppmsca-27681

By Udo Keppler. LoC Summary: Illustration shows an oversized man labeled “The Individual” casting a shadow labeled “Incorporation” which is caused by a light, on the left, held by a “Corporation Lawyer” and a “Corporation Legislator”; on the right, a female figure labeled “Dept. of Justice” carrying a shield and a fasces, assails the shadow.


By John Scott Clubb. Published 1906. 79 varieties. Depew: If I get out of these by the time I am 72 I will be able to do my real work in the Senate.

LoC Summary: Outside the U.S. Senate, New York Senator Chauncey Depew (1834-1928) holds open his topcoat, exposing several layers of coats labeled with various real estate, banking, insurance, railroad, and trust companies. . . . The cartoon relates to a 1905 congressional investigation exposing Depew as a member of the boards of dozens of major corporations while still carrying on his duties as a U.S. Senator. It also revealed that he received sizable retainer fees from many of these companies, transactions viewed as gross conflicts of interest by his critics.


By Will Crawford. Watching the tape or watching the wheel – what is the difference morally?

LoC Summary: Illustration shows a two panel cartoon, on the left, anxious businessmen are gathered around a ticker tape machine, reading the ticker tape; and on the right, anxious gamblers are gathered around a roulette wheel, awaiting the outcome. Illus. in: Puck, v. 72, no. 1852 (1912 August 28), centerfold.

Justicia. LC-USZ62-103251.

by Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569). LoC Summary: Justice stands blindfolded as people around her are being tortured.

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Posted by Laurie Frost on April 1, 2011

In honor of the day, some images from the Library of Congress tagged with keyword fools.

The title of this one is grand, “Grotesque gyrations by gifted eccentriques.”







What! thundered his Majesty. By J.J. Gould. Published in: "The Seven Studious Sisters" by Margaret Sherwood, Scribner's magazine, 35:72 (Jan. 1904).



And we’ll let Puck have the last word: “What fools these mortals be.”




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Political Cartoons from the Early 20th Century: Not Much Has Changed

Posted by Laurie Frost on February 22, 2011

Today’s post features political cartoons from over a hundred years ago published in the magazine Puck, a periodical featuring commentary and satire that was published between 1871 and 1918. The Library of Congress has completed digitization of 585 cartoons from the covers and centerfold pages of Puck for the years 1890-1910, and more of these public domain images will be added later.

The meaning of some of the political cartoons depends on a thorough familiarity with political life at the turn of the 20th century, but what is surprising is how many of these seem altogether relevant to 2011 — all that have changed are a few names and places. Descriptions are from the Library of Congress’s cataloging notes.

The Law-mills Again at Work. Illustration shows “Justice” holding her scales, being buried under an avalanche of paper labeled “Law” as a “Legislator” at the top turns the crank spewing legislation from the U.S. Capitol. Jan. 10, 1900. Illus. Udo Keppler. LC-DIG-ppmsca-25384

The Age of Drugs: Illustration shows the interior of a drugstore with an elderly man, the pharmacist, dispensing a "Bracer" to a crowd of eager consumers, while a young girl secures a bottle of "Soothing Syrup." On the counter are bottles and packets of "Arsenic, Strychnine, Antipyrin, Nerve Stimulant, Opium, Cocaine" and "The Needle." Signs on the wall state "The Killem' Quick Pharmacy," "Open all night," and "Prescriptions carefully compounded." The saloon keeper leans against a column and laments that he cannot "begin to compete with" the drug trade." illus. Louis Dalrymple. Oct. 1900. LC-DIG-ppmsca-25463

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