Twelve Brooklyn, New York Comic or Ethnically-Themed Trade Cards, 1880s.

Humor and puns, per Irish, Chinese, German ethnic or immigrant stereotypes


Humorous group of 12 illustrated comic trade cards advertising the 1880 Fall Styles of Brooklyn, New York boot and shoe merchant, Joseph J. Byers.

The illustrations depict humorous vignettes that often bear punning captions or appeals to ethnic or immigrant stereotypes. For example, a trade card with the caption “4 In Hand” does not depict an elegant carriage, but an illustration of a Chinese man holding four rats by their tails. Another card shows a German soldier standing guard. The illustration is captioned “The Watch on the Rhine” and shows him not so much guarding a river-side castle as guarding an oversize beer stein and a barrel of beer.

Everyday humorous themes, sometimes gritty, unite these trade cards as a collectible set given away by a Brooklyn show merchant: “Under the Gaslight” shows the un-romantic scene of a man passed out drunk in the gutter under a street light; “Now Johny! Stand from Under!” shows a man warning a boy of impending danger when it is he who endangers himself by sawing off the very tree limb he sits upon; and a vignette of an ice skater falling on his backside (to the amusement of an onlooker) is captioned “Ham on Ice.”

Joseph J. Byers shop was located at the corner of Court and State Streets in Brooklyn. His snappy advertising catchphrase meshes well with the comic trade cards—“One Price and that a Low One.”


Description: Twelve Brooklyn, New York Comic or Ethnically-Themed Trade Cards, 1880s.

[Likely New York, 1880]. 12 Trade Cards; illustrated; printed on rectos and versos. Each 3¼ x 1¾ inches. Fine.

[3724757]

Price: $125.00

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