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Tusche, tone and stone: 19th C. news illustration


Puck masthead

Selections from Puck and Judge
that illustrate:
Road to the White House 1884-1896

Labor and Civil Rights

Tammany Influence

International Affairs


Reference: Richard Samuel West.
Satire on Stone: The Political Cartoons of Joseph Keppler
Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988
Background information on Puck

Louis Dalrymple [1866 - 1905]

Samuel D. Ehrhardt [c. 1862 - c. 1920]

Friedrich Graetz [c. 1840 - c. 1913]

Joseph Keppler [1838 - 1894]

Frederick Opper [1857 - 1937]

A. B. Shultz [??]

Charles J. Taylor [1855 - 1929]

James Albert Wales [JAW] [1852 - 1886]

Related links:
Uniting Mugwumps and the Masses: Puck's Role in Gilded Age Politics

American History 102: Civil War to the Present

You will find work by all of the artists in the list above, arranged into (at least) four categories:
-- Road to the White House, 1884-1896 provides a small sample of illustrations by Keppler and other artists from Judge as well as Puck.
-- Illustrations dealing with scandal and corruption associated with Tammany Hall and patronage were often the focus of political and presidential campaign news. Here, some of them are grouped separately, including those that demonstrate anti-Irish sentiment and stereotypes that were common at the time.
-- Illustrations dealing with the labor and the civil rights of workers, immigrants and women form another arbitrary category.
-- Finally, there are two images, one from Puck and one from Judge, to illustrate the growing involvement of the United States in world affairs.

Where there are four or more images available for any one artist, selecting the artist's name will link to a section of his pages.

The Related Links will take you to other sites with extensive historic background on the people and events covered in Puck and Judge, as well as more images and an excellent bibliography compiled by Dan Backer at his site about work published in Puck, Uniting Mugwumps and the Masses.


Background information on Puck
Before founding his successful English language weekly journal Puck in 1876, Joseph Keppler had founded (and been forced to abandon) two German language weeklies and had worked for one of the largest American news journals, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. He managed to do all this within nine years of his initial move to the United States. from Europe.

Leslie's Illustrated News and Harper's Weekly were both successful publications that illustrated the events of their day with wood engravings; both papers began publishing before the Civil War, and by 1876, both had well established reputations and a regular readership. Other weeklies would come and go, but no other opinion journals had the 'market share' commanded by Leslie's and Harper's.

For a sometime-actor/artist, only recently arrived in the United States, Keppler's decision to start a new English language journal was audacious, and can be attributed to at least two factors: he planned to lavishly illustrate in color, something the two larger weeklies did not do. In addition, the era was fraught with excitement and a sense of limitless possibilities. This may well have encouraged him to take an optimistic view of his chances for economic survival as a publisher.

In the wake of the Civil War, the re-United States was experiencing unprecedented growth, as well as growth pains. Life was changing, for almost everyone: new models of business and industry absorbed new immigrants while highlighting questions of economic and social justice. The Suffragists, struggling labor unions, and the unfinished work of Reconstruction, captured public attention, in addition to the on-going issues of political reform and/or corruption, punctuated by Presidential and Congressional election campaigns.

The political artist/illustrator, whether at Puck, or Judge (a competitor color weekly, based on Puck's successful format, if not Puck's politics, by the intermittent Puck artist James Albert Wales) would find an endless source of material from which to create irreverent caricatures and images. Richard West's book, Satire on Stone: The Political Cartoons of Joseph Keppler, makes for lively reading. It is well illustrated and highly recommended to anyone who wants to learn about Keppler, Puck, other Puck artists and these turbulent times.

Although this site implies these political artists were exclusively affiliated with Puck or Judge or some other journal, the reality is much more fluid. In many cases, an artist might begin work at one weekly, move to another if the money or the atmosphere was more congenial, then come back to the first before leaving for yet another publication. True, Thomas Nast is strongly and with justification, almost exclusively associated with Harper's Weekly, but he also worked at Leslie's Illustrated News, and contributed his illustrations to other magazines and books. Work by many of these artists can still be found, completely outside the pages of the news journals -- on postcards, in comic strips (once the comic strip was invented) and in books that illustrate either their own or another author's work, or, as with Frederick Opper's Willie and His Papa, collections of their cartoons from the newspapers where they first appeared. A veteran Puck artist, Opper, had an especially long and fruitful career as a political commentator/illustrator.



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