Puck (magazine)

Puck was the first successful humor magazine in the United States of colorful cartoons, caricatures and political satire of the issues of the day. It was founded in 1871 as a German-language publication by Joseph Keppler, an Austrian-born cartoonist.[1] It was published from 1871 until 1918.[2] Puck's first English-language edition was published in 1877, covering issues like New York City's Tammany Hall, presidential politics, and social issues of late 19th century to early 20th centuries. A collection of Puck cartoons dating from 1879 to 1903 is maintained by the Special Collections Research Center within the Gelman Library of The George Washington University.[3] The Library of Congress also has an extensive collection of Puck Magazine prints online. The Florida Atlantic University Libraries Special Collections Department also maintains a collection of both English and German edition Puck cartoons dating from 1878 to 1916.[4][5]

Puck cover2
Columbia wearing a warship bearing the words "World Power" as her "Easter bonnet", cover of Puck (April 6, 1901).


The weekly magazine was founded by Joseph Keppler in St. Louis. It began publishing German language periodicals in March 1871, though initially the German-language periodical publication failed.[6] After working with Leslie's Illustrated Weekly in New York--a well-established magazine at the time--Keppler created a satirical magazine called Puck, originally published in German. In 1877, after gaining wide support for an English version of Puck, Keppler published its first issue in English. The first English edition was 16 pages long and was sold for 16 cents.[7] Puck gained notoriety for its witty, humorous cartoons and was the first to publish weekly cartoons using chromolithography in place of wood engraving, offering three cartoons instead of one.[8] In its early years of publication, Puck's cartoons were largely printed in black and white, though later editions featured colorful, eye-catching lithographic prints in vivid color.

The English language magazine continued in operation for more than 40 years under several owners and editors, until it was bought by the William Randolph Hearst company in 1916, which had been involved with the magazine for years (one cartoon featured Hearst's comic characters of the time campaigning for his bid for Congress in 1906). The publication lasted two more years; the final edition was distributed September 5, 1918. A typical 32-page issue contained a full-color political cartoon on the front cover and a color non-political cartoon or comic strip on the back cover. There was always a double-page color centerfold, usually on a political topic. There were numerous black-and-white cartoons used to illustrate humorous anecdotes. A page of editorials commented on the issues of the day, and the last few pages were devoted to advertisements.

"Puckish" means "childishly mischievous". This led Shakespeare's Puck character (from A Midsummer Night's Dream) to be recast as a charming near-naked boy and used as the title of the magazine. Puck was the first magazine to carry illustrated advertising and the first to successfully adopt full-color lithography printing for a weekly publication. The magazine consisted of 16 pages measuring 10 inches by 13.5 inches with front and back covers in color and a color double-page centerfold. The cover always quoted Puck saying, "What fools these mortals be!" The jaunty symbol of Puck is conceived as a putto in a top hat who admires himself in a hand-mirror. He appears not only on the magazine covers but over the entrance to the Puck Building in New York's Nolita neighborhood, where the magazine was published, as well.

In May 1893, Puck Press published A Selection of Cartoons from Puck by Joseph Keppler (1877–1892) featuring 56 cartoons chosen by Keppler as his best work. Also during 1893, Keppler temporarily moved to Chicago and published a smaller-format, 12-page version of Puck from the Chicago World's Fair grounds. Shortly thereafter, Joseph Keppler died, and Henry Cuyler Bunner, editor of Puck since 1877 continued the magazine until his own death in 1896. Harry Leon Wilson replaced Bunner and remained editor until he resigned in 1902.[9] Joseph Keppler Jr. then became the editor.

Years after its conclusion, the "Puck" name and slogan were revived as part of the Comic Weekly Sunday comic section that ran on Hearst's newspaper chain beginning in September 1931 and continuing until 1989, when the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, the last paper running a comic section under that name, folded.

Distinguished contributors

Over the years, Puck employed many early cartoonists of note, including, Louis Dalrymple, Bernhard Gillam, Livingston Hopkins, Frederick Burr Opper, Louis Glackens, Michael Alexander Kahn und Richard Samuel West: What Fools These Mortals Be!: The Story of Puck; America's First And Most Influential Magazine of Color Political Cartoon, IDW, San Diego 2004, ISBN 978-1-63140-046-9.], Albert Levering, Frank Nankivell, J. S. Pughe, Rose O'Neill, Charles Taylor, James Albert Wales and Eugene Zimmerman.

Politics and religion

The Raven-Harrison&Blaine
The Raven
An 1890 Puck cartoon depicts President Benjamin Harrison at his desk wearing his grandfather's hat which is too big for his head, suggesting that he is not fit for the presidency. Atop a bust of William Henry Harrison, a raven with the head of Secretary of State James G. Blaine gawks down at the President, a reference to the famous Edgar Allan Poe poem "The Raven". Blaine and Harrison were both at odds over the recently proposed McKinley Tariff.

As Thomas (2004) explains:

[I]n an age of partisan politics and partisan journalism, Puck became the nation's premier journal of graphic humor and political satire, played an important role as a non-partisan crusader for good government and the triumph of American constitutional ideals. Its prime targets, however, were not just corrupt machine politicians. The magazine included as well what it, like the letterpress, condemned as the nefarious political agenda of the Catholic Church, especially its new Pope, Leo XIII. Indeed, New York's infamous Irish Tammany Hall, committed to spoils and patronage as the means of dominating the body politic, was all the more dangerous to Puck because, beginning in the 1870s, Irish Catholics dominated it. The hall's Irish Catholic base enabled the magazine to rationalize more completely its conviction that the Catholic Church, ruled by a foreign potentate dressed in the irrational garb of infallibility, was a menace not only to the nation's body politic but also to its democratic soul. If allowed to proceed unimpeded, the pope and his minions, along with Tammany's bosses and supporters, would convert the nation into their personal fiefdom. Puck was not about to let that happen. In cartoons and editorials spanning two decades, the magazine blasted and often conjoined both Tammany and the papacy with invidious comparisons that left few readers in doubt as to their sympathies.

Puck Building

Puck was housed from 1887 in the landmark Chicago-style, Romanesque Revival Puck Building at Lafayette and Houston streets, New York City. The steel-frame building was designed by architects Albert and Herman Wagner in 1885, as the world's largest lithographic pressworks under a single roof, with its own electricity-generating dynamo. It takes up a full block on Houston Street, bounded by Lafayette and Mulberry streets.

Mad (once located two blocks away at 225 Lafayette Street) parodied Puck's motto as "What food these morsels be!"

London edition

A London edition of Puck was published between January 1889 and June 1890. Amongst contributors was the English cartoonist and political satirist Tom Merry.[10]

Puck cartoons

Schurz Forester1

c. 1878: Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz accosts U.S. Representative James G. Blaine chopping a tree in the forest

Puck - Carl Edler von Stur - Go West! 1881-2

European Royalties: Go West! (after assassination of Alexander II of Russia) March 30, 1881

Emoticons Puck 1881 with Text

Emoticons, March 30, 1881

PUCK1881-Joseph Keppler-President Garfield

July 6, 1881: President James A. Garfield, auf seinem Posten gefällt


"Gone to meet John Kelly", figure identified as "Boss McLaughlin" (Hugh McLaughlin, a political boss), November 9, 1881 cover

PUCK-Monopoly Millionaires Dividing the Country

German edition: Monopoly Millionaires Dividing the Country (William Henry Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, Cyrus West Field, Russell Sage; Andrew Carnegie) 1885


Nasty little printer's devils, 1888


Cyclone as metaphor for political revolution (election of 1894)

School Begins (Puck Magazine 1-25-1899)

School Begins, January 25, 1899


"The Infant Hercules and the Standard Oil serpents", May 23, 1906 issue; depicting U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt "grabbing the head of Nelson W. Aldrich and the snake-like body of John D. Rockefeller" by Frank A. Nankivell

Paris in half-mourning by Ralph Burton 1915

"Paris in half-mourning" by Ralph Barton, 1915.

Henry Mayer, The Awakening, 1915 Cornell CUL PJM 1176 01 - Restoration

The Awakening by Henry "Hy" Mayer, 1915.

Joseph Ferdinand, Keppler Rapid Transit to Sheol 1888 Cornell CUL PJM 1097 01

Rapid Transit to Sheol - Where We Are All Going According to the Reverend Dr. Morgan Dix, by Joseph Ferdinand Keppler, 1888.

See also


  1. ^ "U.S. Senate: Puck". www.senate.gov. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  2. ^ Jeremy Glass (24 November 2014). "5 Defunct Magazines that Changed America". Thrillist. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  3. ^ Guide to the Samuel Halperin Puck and Judge Cartoon Collection, 1879–1903, Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington University
  4. ^ "Catalog Record for Puck Magazine". FAU Libraries Catalog. 2018. Retrieved 2018. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ "Catalog Record for Puck Magazines, German". FAU Libraries Catalog. 2018. Retrieved 2018. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. ^ "TR Center - Puck Magazine". www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  7. ^ "TR Center - Puck Magazine". www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  8. ^ "U.S. Senate: Puck". www.senate.gov. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  9. ^ "Guide to the Harry Leon Wilson Papers, ca. 1879–1939". Berkeley, CA: Bancroft Library. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  10. ^ Simon Houfe (1978). Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800–1914.


External links

American election campaigns in the 19th century

In the 19th century, a number of new methods for conducting American election campaigns developed in the United States. For the most part the techniques were original, not copied from Europe or anywhere else. The campaigns were also changed by a general enlargement of the voting franchise—the states began removing or reducing property and tax qualifications for suffrage and by the early 19th century the great majority of free adult white males could vote (Rhode Island refused until a serious rebellion took place in 1844). During the Reconstruction Era, Republicans in Congress used the military to create a biracial electorate, but when the troops were removed in 1877, blacks steadily lost political power in the increasingly one-party South. After 1890 blacks generally lost the vote in the South.

The system was characterized by two major parties who dominated government at the local, state and national level, and enlisted most voters into a loyal "army" of supporters. There were numerous small third parties that usually were short-lived or inconsequential. The complex system of electing federal, state and local officials meant that election campaigns were both frequent and consequential in terms of political power. Nearly all government jobs were distributed on a patronage basis to party workers. The jobs were honorific and usually paid very well. The best way to get a patronage job was to work in the election campaign for the winning party, and volunteers were numerous. Elections provided Americans with much of their news. The elections of 1828–32, 1854–56, and 1894–96 are usually considered realigning elections.

Bernhard Gillam

Bernhard Gillam (April 28, 1856 – January 19, 1896) was an English-born American political cartoonist.

Gillam was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire. He arrived in New York with his parents in 1866. He worked as a copyist in a lawyer's office, but switched to the study of engraving, and later, after some of his cartoons had appeared in the New York Graphic, turned to cartooning. His work appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Harper's Weekly, where he worked with Thomas Nast during James A. Garfield's campaign of 1880, and Puck magazine where he came under the influence of Joseph Keppler. Gillam also produced work for Judge, a magazine of which he became director-in-chief in 1886.

Gillam's cartoons on James G. Blaine during the 1884 US presidential campaign played a large part in Grover Cleveland's election to office. "Phryne before the Chicago Tribunal", which appeared in the Puck issue of June 4, 1884, showed Blaine's body covered in tattoos detailing corruption charges from his political past. Blaine threatened legal action, but backed down on the advice of his political friends. Oddly, Gillam was a Republican who voted for Blaine in 1884.

During the presidential campaigns of 1888 and 1892, Gillam's cartoons depicted the dangers of the free-trade policy of the Democrats and the benefits of Republican protectionism.Bernhard Gillam died in Canajoharie, New York, of typhoid fever in 1896.


The centerfold or centrefold of a magazine refers to a gatefolded spread, usually a portrait such as a pin-up or a nude, inserted in the middle of the publication, or to the model featured in the portrait. In saddle-stitched magazines (as opposed to those that are perfect-bound), the centerfold does not have any blank space cutting through the image.

The term was coined by Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine. The success of the first issue of Playboy has been attributed in large part to its centerfold: a nude of Marilyn Monroe. The advent of monthly centerfolds gave the pin-up a new respectability, and helped to sanitize the notion of "sexiness". Being featured as a centerfold could lead to film roles for models, and still occasionally does today.Early on, Hefner required Playboy centerfolds to be portrayed in a very specific way, telling photographers in a 1956 memo that the "model must be in a natural setting engaged in some activity 'like reading, writing, mixing a drink'...[and]... should have a 'healthy, intelligent, American look—a young lady that looks like she might be a very efficient secretary or an undergrad at Vassar.'" Hefner later said that the ideal centerfold is one in which "a situation is suggested, the presence of someone not in the picture"; the goal was to transform "a straight pinup into an intimate interlude, something personal and special."Some magazines later adopted the practice of having a trifold or quatrefold centerfold, using a longer sheet of paper at that spot and folding the extra length into the magazine. Racier adult magazines used this space to showcase more explicit imagery: "In order to represent breasts, genitals, anus, and face all within the tri-fold frame of the centerfold, models were propped up, legs spread, raised, and then jack- knifed against their bodies, arms plunged between them to spread the labia."Though the term has become linked in the public consciousness with erotic material or models, many other magazines such as Life, Time and National Geographic have published fold-out spreads on other subjects.

Edwin Lawrence Godkin

Edwin Lawrence Godkin (October 2, 1831 – May 21, 1902) was an Irish-born American journalist and newspaper editor. He founded The Nation and was the editor-in-chief of the New York Evening Post from 1883 to 1899.

Eugene Zimmerman

Eugene "Zim" Zimmerman (May 26, 1862 – March 26, 1935) was a Swiss-American cartoonist.

Henry Baerer

Henry Baerer (1837-1908) was an American sculptor born in Munich, Germany.Works include:

two versions of the Puck magazine mascot on the Puck Building, New York (1886)

Bronze bust of Beethoven for a monument in Central Park (1894)

Nearly identical bust in Prospect Park

Bust of John Howard Payne in Prospect Park, Brooklyn

Statue of Edward Brush Fowler in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn

Bust of Franz Schubert in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia

Bronze statue of G. K. Warren Prize in Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New York

Bronze statue of Conrad Poppenhusen in College Point, Queens, New York

J. S. Pughe

John Samuel Pughe (3 June 1870 – 19 April 1909), often credited as J. S. Pughe, was a Welsh-born American political cartoonist, best known for his illustrations for Puck magazine.

Joseph Keppler

Joseph Ferdinand Keppler (February 1, 1838 – February 19, 1894) was an Austrian-born American cartoonist and caricaturist who greatly influenced the growth of satirical cartooning in the United States.

Lafayette Street

Lafayette Street is a major north-south street in New York City's Lower Manhattan. It originates at the intersection of Reade Street and Centre Street, one block north of Chambers Street. The one-way street then successively runs through Chinatown, Little Italy, NoLIta, and NoHo and finally, between East 9th and East 10th Streets, merges with Fourth Avenue. A buffered bike lane runs outside the left traffic lane. North of Spring Street, Lafayette Street is northbound (uptown)-only; south of Spring Street, Lafayette is southbound (downtown)-only.

The street is named after Marquis de Lafayette, a French hero of the American Revolutionary War.


The Mugwumps were Republican political activists who bolted from the Republican Party by supporting Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland in the presidential election of 1884. They switched parties because they rejected the financial corruption associated with Republican candidate James G. Blaine. In a close election, the Mugwumps supposedly made the difference in New York state and swung the election to Cleveland. The jocular word "mugwump", noted as early as 1832, is from Algonquian mugquomp, "important person, kingpin" (from mugumquomp, "war leader"), implying that they were "sanctimonious" or "holier-than-thou" in holding themselves aloof from party politics.

After the election, "mugwump" survived for more than a decade as an epithet for a party bolter in American politics. Many Mugwumps became Democrats or remained independents and most continued to support reform well into the 20th century. During the Third Party System, party loyalty was in high regard and independents were rare. Theodore Roosevelt stunned his upper class New York City friends by supporting Blaine in 1884 and by rejecting the Mugwumps kept alive his Republican party leadership, clearing the way for his own political aspirations.New England and the Northeast had been a stronghold of the Republican Party since the Civil War era, but the Mugwumps considered Blaine to be an untrustworthy and fraudulent candidate. Their idealism and reform sensibilities led them to oppose the political corruption in the politics of the Gilded Age.


Nolita, sometimes written as NoLIta, and deriving from "North of Little Italy" is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. Nolita is bounded on the north by Houston Street, on the east by the Bowery, on the south roughly by Broome Street, and on the west by Lafayette Street. It lies east of SoHo, south of NoHo, west of the Lower East Side, and north of Little Italy and Chinatown.

Puck Building

The Puck Building is a historic building located in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It occupies the block bounded by Lafayette, Houston, Mulberry and Jersey Streets.

An example of the German Rundbogenstil style of Romanesque Revival architecture, the building was designed by Albert Wagner, and was constructed in two parts. The north section was built in 1885–86, and the south addition in 1892–93. The front of the building – on Lafayette Street – was relocated in 1899 when the street – then called Elm Place – was widened, this was supervised by Herman Wagner. The building was rehabilitated in 1983–84 and further renovated in 1995 by Beyer Blinder Belle. The building sports two gilded statues by sculptor Henry Baerer of Shakespeare's character Puck, from A Midsummer Night's Dream, one on the northeast corner at Houston and Mulberry, and one over the main entrance on Lafayette.

The building is located at the northwestern corner of Manhattan's NoLIta neighborhood, bordered by SoHo and the NoHo section of Greenwich Village. It is owned by Kushner Properties, the company of Charles Kushner, a major donor to Democratic politicians in New Jersey, and his son Jared Kushner, son-in-law of United States President Donald Trump.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved ("good" or "nice") children on Christmas Eve (24 December) and the early morning hours of Christmas Day (25 December). The modern Santa Claus grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas (a fourth-century Greek bishop and gift-giver of Myra), the British figure of Father Christmas and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas (himself also based on Saint Nicholas). Some maintain Santa Claus also absorbed elements of the Germanic god Wodan, who was associated with the pagan midwinter event of Yule and led the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky.

Santa Claus is generally depicted as a portly, jolly, white-bearded man—sometimes with spectacles—wearing a red coat with white fur collar and cuffs, white-fur-cuffed red trousers, a red hat with white fur and black leather belt and boots and who carries a bag full of gifts for children. This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of the 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast. This image has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, children's books, films, and advertising.

Santa Claus is said to make lists of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior ("good" and "bad", or "naughty" and "nice"), and to deliver presents, including toys and candy, to all of the well-behaved children in the world, and coal to all the misbehaved children, on the night of Christmas Eve. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of his elves, who make the toys in his workshop at the North Pole, and his flying reindeer, who pull his sleigh. He is commonly portrayed as living at the North Pole, and often laughing in a way that sounds like "ho ho ho".

Timothy L. Woodruff

Timothy Lester Woodruff (August 4, 1858 – October 12, 1913) was an American businessman and politician. A leader of the Republican Party in the state of New York, Woodruff is best remembered for having been elected three terms as the Lieutenant Governor of the state, serving in that capacity from 1897 to 1902.

Udo Keppler

Udo J. Keppler (April 4, 1872 – July 4, 1956), known from 1894 as Joseph Keppler Jr., was an American political cartoonist, publisher, and Native American advocate. The son of cartoonist Joseph Keppler (1838–1894), who founded Puck magazine, the younger Keppler also contributed cartoons, and became co-owner of the magazine after his father's death, when he changed his name to Joseph Keppler. He was also a collector of Native American artifacts, and was adopted by the Seneca Nation, where he became an honorary chief and given the name Gyantwaka.Keppler was born on April 4, 1872 in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from the Columbia Institute in 1888, and studied in Germany in 1890 and 1891. He was with Puck from 1890 to 1914. He married Louise (Lulu) Eva Bechtel, daughter of wealthy brewer George Bechtel, on April 4, 1895, a marriage opposed by his mother and sisters. He sold Puck in December 1913, remaining art director for another four months. He later contributed to Judge and Leslie's Weekly until 1915. He retired in 1920, and in 1946 moved to La Jolla, California, where he died on July 4, 1956.

William Mecham

William Mecham (1853 – 21 August 1902) was a British cartoonist and performer, taking the stage and pen name Tom Merry.

He was a professional caricaturist who gave 'Lightning Cartoon' presentations on the music hall stage, and was the first celebrity of any kind to appear in a British film.

You Press the Button, We Do the Rest

"You Press the Button, We Do the Rest" was an advertising slogan coined by George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, in 1888. Eastman believed in making photography available to the world, and making it possible for anyone who had the desire to take great pictures. Until then, taking photographs was a complicated process that could only be accomplished if the photographer could process and develop film. With his new slogan, Eastman and the Eastman Kodak Company became wildly successful and helped make photography popular.

Ōten Shimokawa

Ōten Shimokawa (or Hekoten Shimokawa) (下川凹天, Shimokawa Ōten, May 2, 1892 – May 26, 1973) was a Japanese artist, considered to be one of the founding artists and pioneers of anime. Little is known of his early personal life, other than that his family moved to the Tokyo area when he was nine years old. Here he began working for Tokyo Puck Magazine as a political cartoonist and manga series artist.

At the age of 26, Shimokawa was hired by Tenkatsu Production Company to create a short animated film. Shimokawa used several animation techniques that were, at the time, unique: using chalk or white wax on a dark board background to draw characters, rubbing out portions to be animated and drawing with ink directly onto film, whiting out animated portions. At the time, celluloid cels (rather than modern acetate film) were costly and scarce in Japan, having to be imported. These techniques cut production costs, material costs and completion time.

The resulting film was Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki, released in 1917. Though not the earliest animation created in Japan, it is considered to be the first "true" Anime film, as it was the first to be publicly shown in a theater. The film ran only five minutes. As with many animation works created in Japan before the mid-1920s, no trace of the film, or any of Shimokawa's five other short films, has survived.

Shimokawa's animation work was cut short by chronic health problems, and he returned to work as a consultant and editor for other production companies making animated films in the 1930s and 1940s. Not much is known of his later life; indeed, very few works bear mention of his contribution beyond his own personal works.

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