The earliest image of police as pigs?

Who took me from my warm, warm Cot, / Whether I was Married or not? / THREE POLICEMEN! [Worcester, Mass., 1874?]
Woodcut[?] broadside, printed area 10 ¼”h x 16 5/8”w on a 12”h x 18 ¾”w sheet, uncolored.

An unusual and very rare broadside depicting a Worcester, Massachusetts scandal and possibly featuring the earliest known image of police as pigs.

The broadside depicts three policemen with pig’ ears and snouts storming into a couple’s bedroom. The astonished man stands before them in his nightshirt, presenting a document (perhaps a marriage certificate) for their inspection. Under the bed is a chamberpot, which suggests that the caption is adapted from a group of old rhymes, one variant of which is as follows:

“Who took me from my warm, warm cot
And put me on that cold, cold pot
And made me go whether I wanted to or not
My mother.”

The broadside is extremely rare, and I have located other examples only at the Clements Library and the American Antiquarian Society. The AAS in fact has two copies, one of which bears some extremely helpful annotations, without which the image would have remained a mystery. They include “Market Street, Worcester. 11 A.M. Dec. 9, 1874” and further notes identifying the man in the nighshirt as “John Kelly,” the woman as “Ida,” two of the three policeman as “Dollam” and “Worc. Police,” and the piece of paper in the man’s hand as a marriage certificate.

The practice of referring to police as “pigs” had its original in England in the early 19th century, before which it had been in more general use as a term for a person who was widely disliked. I have however been unable to find any other visual examples of this trope in England or America until the 1960s, when protestors introduced the unfortunate usage into American popular culture.

OCLC 822891780 (Clements Library).


Few tiny holes along old folds, minor spots and a couple of small tape stains. About very good.