19th Century Prints, Engraving, Lithograph, Prints, Wood

Political Cartoons

Here at the Old Print Gallery, we have quite a few political cartoons. From the  prolific artists, like Thomas Nast and Adalbert Johann Volck, to the lesser known cartoonists that graced the pages of Judge, Vanity Fair, and Punch, our collection is extensive. Not only are they great pieces of Americana- collectable and prized among many- but they also immortalize public opinion and sentiment. Below is a (very small) sampling of political cartoons we carry. Enjoy!

Little Mac Trying to Dig His Way to the White House But Is Frightened by Spiritual Manifestations. Lithograph by an anonymous artist. Published c.1864. This political caricature is from the Presidential campaign of 1864, in which Gen. George McClellan ran as the Democratic nominee against Abraham Lincoln. Here Lady Liberty keeps McClellan away from the White House, calling him unworthy for allowing too many Union deaths.

The Last Ditch of the Chivalry, or President in Petticoats. Lithograph by Currier and Ives. Published in 1865. This Civil War caricature capitalizes on the widespread though unfounded rumor that Jefferson Davis tried to evade capture by Union soldiers by dressing as a woman. Shouts one soldier, "It's no use trying that shift, Jeff, we see your boots."

The Tammany Tiger Loose: What Are You Going To Do About It? Wood engraving by Thomas Nast. Published in Harper's Weekly on November 11, 1881. The most famous effort of America's greatest political cartoonist, and the one which provoked Boss Tweed's complaint that while his constitutents could not read, they could surely understand Nast's pictures. Tweed appears in the stands holding an "iron rod" below a banner reading "Tammany Spoils." In the arena, the Tammany Tiger savages Columbia; a smashed ballot box lies besider her.

President Arthur Hit Him Again: Don't Let the Vulture Be Our National Bird. Pen and Ink on paper by Thomas Nast. Published as an engraving in Harper's Weekly on August 12, 1882. This Thomas Nast caricature illustrates a fight between President Chester A. Arthur and the United States Congress. He had originally proposed a bill to improve international commerce on the waterways. The bill that passed in both the House and Senate was so laden with pork-barrel and special interest issues that over 14 million of the 18,700,000 dollars would not be used to improve international commerce. Chester A. Arthur vetoed the bill on August 1.

Fifty Cents- Shin Plaster. Lithography by Henry R. Robinson. Published in 1837. This print comically deals with the limited-currency policies of presidents Jackson and Van Buren. This image shows Andrew Jackson riding a pig with the quote “By the Eternal!! I’ll have it, Benton!” Behind him is Senator Thomas Hart Benton riding a jackass and holding a quill with “Expunger” written on it and quoting “Go it thou Roman!! a greater man ne’er lived in the tide of times.!!” Both men are chasing a “Gold Humbug” over the edge of a cliff towards the U.S. Bank (headed by Nicholas Biddle.) Martin Van Buren is shown behind them, loosing his crown and riding a fox taking a safer route towards the bank. His quote is, “Although I follow in the footsteps of Jackson it is expedient at this time to deviate a little!!” Below the main image is an endorsement by the publisher, who promises “to pay Thomas H. Benton, or bearer, Fifty Cents, in Counterfeit Caricatures at my store . . . ” It is dated May 10, 1837, the date of the New York banks’ emergency suspension of specie payments. The print also refers to the poorly secured, illegal currency known as shin plasters.