London: 1865. (weekly issues from July-December 1865). Imperial octavo, 28.5 x 22.5 cm, Preface, dated December 30 1865, followed by issues from second half of 1865 in date order, beginning July 8, 1865 (pp. 1-262, ending December 30, including Index), followed by 11 pages titled “Punch’s Almanack for 1866”), full page cuts (cartoons) printed one side, profusely illustrated in black and white with caricatures and drawings. Satirical entries dealing with many prominent debates, political and social figures and contemporary world events. Good overall, 19th century binding with built spine and gilt title, dark green spine leather with old repairs, quarter-leather on boards and leather corners, boards worn. Interior title page detached but complete, front cover detaching but holding, binding otherwise tight, pages browned with some mottling and foxing. Item #832
Punch, or the London Charivari, the most celebrated of England’s 19th century comic journals, was founded in 1841, with its last issue printed in 1992. Its heyday as a magazine of political and social satire was from the 1840s to the 1890s. It was influential in British colonies worldwide, and in Turkey and India, also finding imitators in Egypt, Japan and China. By the 1860s, when The Times of London had a daily circulation of more than 60,000 copies, London Punch had a similar circulation weekly. Its famed cartoonists included Sir John Tenniel (the legendary illustrator of the Alice books), Richard Doyle, George du Maurier, John Leech, E.L. Sambourne, Charles Keene and Harry Furniss. Charivari in the London Punch title had its descriptive origins in loud, riotous parades, discordant and mock serenades, a general confused din, community censure and a penchant for questioning social structures. London Punch was, indeed, paramount in its field as a popular entertainer.
Every issue of Punch, or the London Charivari in 1865 recounted the risible aspects of the current or recent activities of leading individuals, including three British Prime Ministers (Viscount Palmerston, Benjamin Disraeli and William Ewart Gladstone); Palmerston’s death in October 1865 also prompted a commemorative poem, and an 88 line poem appeared in the issue of December 23 marking the death of King Leopold of Belgium. Another full page cartoon, “The Re-United States”, urges American States to reunite after the U.S. Civil War.
Fenians (the umbrella term for organisations dedicated to the creation of an independent Irish Republic) were the subject of articles and notices in several 1865 issues. Queen Victoria was depicted as Queen Hermione in a full page cartoon quoting Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, urging her to end the withdrawal from public life which likened her to a stone figurehead after the death of Prince Albert. Ordinary women are castigated for colouring their hair, employing hair extensions and for other hairdressing transgressions.
On less personal matters, the 1865 London Punch finds humour in extended references to Bradshaw, the railways guide, a publication which itself featured in a series on 21st century British and Australian television. The iron sailing steamship Great Eastern, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel who named her “the Great Babe” was by far the largest ship when launched in 1858. Its conversion to lay the Transatlantic cable in 1865 gave Punch further satirical opportunities.
Rebellion in Jamaica, closely involving the island’s controversial Governor, Edward John Eyre, was a major world event in the final quarter of 1865, and Punch recorded it effects. Eyre (1815-1901), an English explorer of Australia and subsequently a Lieutenant-Governor of New Zealand, is widely remembered in place names in both countries. Australia’s Lake Eyre was named in his honour. In Jamaica in October 1865, Eyre brutally suppressed the Morant Bay Rebellion which resulted from a march protesting injustice, poverty and mismanagement, sparked by a Baptist preacher and rebel leader. In the ensuing reprisals, 18 officials and hundreds of black Jamaicans were killed as Governor Eyre declared martial law, hundreds were flogged and a thousand houses burnt. A full page cartoon in the 1865 London Punch depicts a black worker led away by a sanctimonious Baptist Minister, watched by the plantation manager. For more than a decade following, marked by violence and executions, Governor Eyre suffered from a fierce debate in England over the unconstitutional crisis and the resulting legal and Court hearings.