Puck cartoon satirizing the Benjamin Harrison Presidency

J[oseph Ferdinand] K[eppler] (artist) / Keppler & Schwarzmann (publishers) / J. Offmann Lith. Co., PUCK / THE WOODS ARE FULL OF THEM. [New York, Jan. 9, 1889.]
Lithograph printed in color, image area 12”h x 18”w plus margins. Text on verso.
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A splendid cartographic cartoon lampooning the flood of Republican office seekers after the 1888 election of Benjamin Harrison to the Presidency.

The image has President-elect Benjamin Harrison emerging from a skylight in the roof of his home and using a telescope to look out over the dozens of aspirants scattered about the country (While Harrison’s home was in Indianapolis, this design has it floating in the Atlantic off the Jersey shore, thus enabling him to take in the entire country in one view.) The would-be cabinet members include luminaries such as former Presidential candidate James Blaine of Maine and future President William McKinley of Ohio, as well as scoundrels like William Wade Dudley of Indiana, who had been caught trying to organize a statewide vote-buying scheme before the election. In fact Harrison invited few Republican bosses into his cabinet, which likely contributed to his loss in the Election of 1892.

This satire was one of hundreds that appeared in Puck, a weekly humor magazine that was the first to use successfully color lithography on a regular basis. The front and back covers of each issue were printed in color, and each featured as centerfold a double-page cartoon such as “The Woods Are Full of Them.” Puck was founded in 1871 by Austrian-American cartoonist Joseph Ferdinand Keppler (1838-1894) as a vehicle for his own talents:

“In March 1871, he and fellow émigré Adolph Schwarzmann started Puck as a German-language weekly in St. Louis, which lasted until February 1872…. He was then hired as cartoonist by Frank Leslie about 1873 and within a short while took charge of most of the cover illustrations for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. In 1876, he left and with Adolph Schwarzmann successfully resurrected Puck in New York, publishing an English-language version the following year…. His cartoons were famous for their caustic wit, generating much publicity for Puck and pioneering the use of colour lithography for caricature.  Much of his success was due to a clever adaptation of classical and historical subjects to his criticisms of modern life.

 

“Keppler’s opinions and wit endeared him to large sections of the American public.  His illustrations cast light on complex politics, making issues clear to the average voter. Puck did not shy away from criticism of the administration and by influencing the perceptions of the voting public, certainly altered the course of American political history….” (Wikipedia)

Condition

Gently toned along edges and a very faint tide mark at upper corners (exaggerated in image).