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Friday, 31 December 2010


New Year's Eve 2010, and I would just wish everybody the very best for 2011 and hope you all have a healthy and happy time throughout the coming year. Frank Reynolds (1876-1953) cartoon of the early 1920's depicts the 'problem' of returning the seasonal compliment with an original turn of phrase.

Transcript below:

PUPIL: "A Happy New Year to you, Sir."
TUTOR: (who has a horror of the phrase. "The Same to You") "Thank you, Smith; and I sincerely trust that the ensuing twelve months will be fraught with unbounded joy for you also."

*   *   *   *   *

In the time honoured tradition of the New Year Sales, for this post only, we have a 'two for the price of one' edition. Attached below is a topical cartoon from the pen of A. Wallis Mills (1878-1940) to help bring us into the New Year with a smile.

Transcript below:

WIFE: "I'm writing a paper on Calendar Reform for our Club. Do you know which Pope it was that gave us our present calendar ?
HUSBAND: "Pope?" Good gracious! I thought it always came from the grocer."

Tuesday, 28 December 2010


The glitches have been exorcised at last ... hopefully, and now we're back on air again. Serious technological problems with the transferring of data to the blog for over a month now, but I think it's finally sorted and we can post up the weekly 'oldie' to give you all a smile again!

The offering this week by George S Dixon (b. 1890) maybe typifies the scene as we move ever closer to the year end, and the start of a New Year. Maybe there will be a few Yule Log's being carried into a few households across the land ? 

Since the Gregorian Calendar skipped the '0' year, starting at 1AD then technically the 1st of January 2011 is the start of the new decade. Therefore Happy New Decade to everyone, and thanks for checking in on the blog from time to time, and hope you all have a great New Year!

Transcript Below:

The Festive Season

"By Jove! Jones is keen on the old customs! They're carrying in a Yule-
log to his place. (Pause) No, I'm wrong ----- it's Jones."

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


Hi there, we’re back again, and I don’t suppose you’ve really missed me but we got caught up in a series of events not necessarily of my own doing! However, not to worry I have been looking through the collection again, and since we appear to be on the edge of a small Ice Age, according to all the weather predictions, I thought this cartoon by George S Sherwood quite appropriate. The country will no doubt grind to a halt once more as the dreaded snow paralyses all means of transport, while meantime we will just slip the ram as usual and hope the cold doesn’t cool his ardour.

Transcript below:

WIFE: "And while you are in the village get me a copy of 'Home Firesides' and a funny joke paper for Eric, but not the one with Tiny Tiddlers and the Tinker Tots in. And put your hat on straight; you look like a jockey."

Thursday, 11 November 2010


At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918, Germany agreed to a cease fire, and that day, later to become known as Armistice Day, finally saw an end to one of the largest wars in history. A formal state of war between the two sides persisted for another seven months, until signing of the Treaty of Versailles with Germany on 28 June 1919, but it is generally recognised that the 11th of November 1918 was the official end to the hostilities. More than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilized and more than 9 million combatants were killed, in what was then known as the Great War.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary in June 1914, was the single act which brought the whole of Europe into conflict. The great powers of Europe, consisting of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the British Empire, France and Italy were at war within weeks, and as all had colonies, the conflict soon spread around the world.

The military forces finally all came home to civilian life after four years of warfare and Frederick H Townsend (1868-1920) cartoon highlights the larger than life tales of the conflict on the Western Front.

Transcript below:

TOMMY: (homeward bound and determined not to disappoint). "Why, Missy, three days before the Armistice the air was that thick with aeroplanes the birds had to get down and walk."

Monday, 1 November 2010


Today the 1st of November is the anniversary of the 1938 Horse Race in America dubbed the ‘Match of the Century’ between ‘Seabiscuit’ and the then favourite ‘War Admiral’ at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The race was held over a track just under a mile and a quarter long, and ‘War Admiral’ started out as favourite with odds of 4-1 on, with an estimated 40,000 people trackside, and a further 40 million listening in on the radio. Legendary trainer Tom Smith with his unorthodox methods had devised tactics for the race which ultimately paid off, and after a memorable head to head race ‘Seabiscuit’ won by four clear lengths. ‘Seabiscuit’ was subsequently named “Horse of the Year” for 1938.

‘Seabiscuit’ was an odd name, but the rules governing the naming of horses are strict, for example, horses names cannot be longer than 18 characters and spaces, and names currently on the Register of Horse Names or names of horses who have won a major flat or jump race cannot be used (so there can only be one ‘Best Mate’ or ‘Shergar’). And most famously, names whose meaning, pronunciation or spelling is obscene or insulting are prohibited. Over the years some have slipped through the net with ‘WearTheFoxHat’ and ‘Noble Locks’ being the most notable.

Silly names are often quoted in the racing press and on television as folk have struggled to find an exclusive name. ‘No D Feet’, ‘No Da Deh’, ‘Sexliesandalibis’, ‘Snoozin Susan’, and ‘Wontonsoupforyou’ are just a fraction of the thousands of ‘unique’ names already listed. Bert Thomas (1883-1966) cartoon below highlights the problems involved in naming a horse.

Transcript below:

OWNER: "You let the whole bloomin' field walk over you."
JOCKEY: "Well, whatcher expec' with a horse called 'Turkey Carpet' ?"

Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Turkey’s entry into the 1st World War on 29 October 1914 prompted Britain to open a new military front in the remote Ottoman province of Mesopotamia (present day Iraq). British and Indian troops, sent to the Persian Gulf in early November to protect British oil interests in Abadan made rapid progress inland against weak Turkish resistance. In less than a month, they had occupied the towns of Basra and Kurna.

Despite the unforgiving climate, British forces continued to march steadily up the River Tigris in 1915. By 28 September, under the leadership of General Charles Townshend they had taken the town of Kut-al-Amara just 120 miles south of Mesopotamia's major city, Baghdad. The tide turned quickly, however, at the Battle of Ctesiphon in which Turkish troops under the command of Yusef Nur-ed-Din withstood heavy casualties to defeat Townshend's attacking forces. The war continued into 1916 and despite more heavy defeats Kut-al-Amara was recaptured on 24 February 1917, and Ctesiphon was taken soon afterwards. On 11 March 1917, British troops finally entered Baghdad. The path was cleared for an advance into northern Mesopotamia, towards the heart of the Ottoman empire in Anatolia. The war with Turkey finally ended on 30 October 1918.

Henry M. Brocks (1875-1960) cartoon of 1915 highlights the fact that to most of the people in Britain at this time, the war in Mesopotamia had previously been a distant and largely unknown campaign.

Transcript below:

MR PESSIMIST: (cheering up for once). "British Mesopotamian success."
MRS PESSIMIST: "That's the worst of it. They mess up all their successes."

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


The latest Government proposals for the increase in pension age to 66 is being actively considered, to try and ensure it will be sustainable into the future with the life expectancy of individuals increasing year on year. Over a hundred years ago in 1908 the Old Age Pension Act was passed and the first payments made in January 1909. The maximum payment of five shillings (25p) for a single man or woman was meagre - the equivalent of just under £20 a week now. To get even this you had to be at least 70 years old, at a time when only about 5% of the population were older than that. You might be denied it at all if you had been sent to prison in the previous ten years, were habitually drunk, had never worked when able to do so, or were otherwise of bad character. To check up on claimants and their entitlement, civil servants known as pension enquiry officers would visit people in their homes, assess their circumstances and then make recommendations to a separate pensions committee. William Gunning King (1859-1940) cartoon depicts such a visit by the Pensions Officer.

Transcript below:

PENSION ENQUIRY OFFICER: "Have you ever been in the hands of the police?"
APPLICANT: "Well--er--sir, you see I used to be a cook! Girls will be girls!
Besides, it was a good many years ago, and he was a sergeant!"

Monday, 4 October 2010


The 2010 Ryder Cup match between Europe and the USA went into its fourth day at Celtic Manor in Wales, for the first time in its history. The Europeans held out for a very exciting climax and took the trophy back from the USA by 1 point. Golf has evolved over the last 80-100 years into a very technical sport, gone are the mashie niblicks, spoons and brassies of the early 1900’s being replaced by titanium and carbon fibre clubs, the rubber ball has now become a dimpled scientific projectile capable of travelling enormous distances, but the one constant is the weather. No matter what technology prevails in the game, Mother Nature still rules. This early 1920’s cartoon by Bert Thomas (1883-1966) typifies the play this weekend.

Transcript below:

THE AMERICAN: "Say, I've played this game in every country under the sun."
THE BRITON: "Ah, well, you're playing it in another country now."

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


This week the announcement that Scottish Opera will perform Carmen in the Orkney Arts Centre, Kirkwall highlights an extensive touring calendar which will take the Company the length and breadth of Scotland. Beautiful gypsies, bullfighting, obsession and some of the liveliest rhythms in opera, this new production is set in 1960’s Spain. Leading operatic celebrities have enchanted audiences with the likes of Bizet’s rousing “Toreador’s Song” for years. James H Thorpe’s cartoon depicts such a celebrity in a moment of crisis.

Transcript below:

OPERATIC CELEBRITY: "I tell your fool reporter I haf been starring for six months in Nooyork."
SUB-EDITOR: "Quite so."
OPERATIC CELEBRITY: "Well, the idiot he say 'starving.' "

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


This week recognises the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and of the 182 Victoria Crosses awarded to servicemen in the 2nd World War only one Fighter Pilot received this highest award for gallantry. Flt. Lieut James Nicolson, aged 23 at the time was awarded the VC for ‘Exceptional Gallantry’ during combat duty in August 1940. During the 1st World War 634 Victoria Crosses were awarded to the British & Commonwealth forces, and to date there have been 158 Scottish recipients. This cartoon by A Wallis Mills (1878-1940) highlights the possible reason why the Scottish Regiments are so feared during battle.

Transcript below:

VISITOR: "How delighted you must have been when you heard your son had won the V.C.!"
SCOTCH WIFE: "O ay! I was pleased enough, but I wasna surprised. He stood up to me once!"

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


With the recent ‘Whalers Reunion’ having taken place in Shetland, the links between the islands and the sea were once again highlighted. The Whaling industry in the Southern Atlantic was a dangerous occupation starting in the early 1900’s and a lot of men left Shetland to take part in this right up until it ceased around 1963. Seafaring was the life of many a local man, and this cartoon by Charles Grave (1886-1944) maybe echoes a scene remembered by those in the Merchant Navy.

Transcript below:

"This is a ruddy fine game 'olystonin' the decks at one o'clock in the mornin'."

"You ain't got the right way of lookin' at it. I gets a lot of 'appiness by bangin'
about an' keepin' passengers awake what's paid a 'undred quid for the outin'."

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


This week in 1940 during World War II the Blitz began, when 348 German bombers strafed London in the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing. While the Great War (1914-1918) as it was known then, had relatively few air raids in comparison, there was still the threat of an attack from the air by the Zeppelin airships and later the Gotha aeroplane. George Belcher (1875-1947) cartoon of the period highlights the public concerns over these early attacks.

Transcript below:

STOUT LADY: (discussing the best thing to do in an air-raid). "Well, I always runs about meself. You see, as my 'usband sez, an' very reasonable too, a movin' targit is more difficult to 'it."

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


As Shetland’s annual Film Festival ‘Screenplay’ gets underway this week together with the Book Festival ‘Wordplay’ following on closely behind, I thought we would look at how the cartoons of around 100 years ago depicted The Arts and Theatricals. The advent of sound in films was really only introduced in the mid 1920’s but by 1930 Hollywood was almost all ‘talkies’. The world of the celebrity was just about to begin as illustrated in this A. Wallis Mills (1878-1940) cartoon.

Transcript below:

FRIEND: (to Film Star), "Say, there's a bunch of guys outside waiting to be presented to you. Among 'em is a bishop, who says he married you some time since."
FILM STAR: "Gee! I'm practically certain I never married a bishop."

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


Six weeks later and it’s all over, the holidays are finished, the summer’s gone and it’s back to school again. Today in Scotland probably the biggest shake-up in secondary education is about to take place as the planned ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ is introduced. Whether this will be the success the Government hope or not, time will tell, but the main question often asked will still be on the parents lips as depicted in this James H Dowd (1883-1956) cartoon.

Transcript below:

BOY: "Please, teacher, what did I learn today ?"
TEACHER: "That's a peculiar question."
BOY: "Well, they'll ask me when I get home."

Saturday, 14 August 2010


This weekend the professional football season gets underway once more, and the millions of pounds having been spent in transfers and wages will possibly determine the outcome of the various matches in the various leagues. Sometimes other factors play a part in the results, and like the many knock-about games played by youngsters, are more easily recognised than the feats of the modern day professional footballer. Frank Reynolds (1876-1953) cartoon typifies a moment in the glorious game.

Transcript below:


"Crescent United were unfortunate in losing to Paradise Alley
owing to the unavoidable absence of their custodian at a critical moment in the game."

Monday, 9 August 2010


Continuing the theme of summer holidays, the aftermath of a week or a fortnight in the sun is the showing of all the holiday photos. Nowadays with digital cameras, mobile phones and social network sites there are instant playbacks of those immortal moments within minutes. Back in the 1920’s and 1930’s the camera and the photograph was still a relatively new phenomenon. William L Ridgewell (1881-1937) cartoon illustrates some of the problems associated with this new technology.

Transcript below:

"It's no use, Cyril, I don't understand this camera. I can only see your feet."

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


When going on holiday the main thing is to be sure the tickets are all sorted and to remember to take them with you. Sometimes, as in this cartoon by Bertram Prance (1889-1958) not everybody is kept fully in the picture.

Transcript below:

WIFE: "What! You haven't got the tickets yet?"
HUSBAND: "No. The fact is I've never been told where we're going."

Friday, 30 July 2010


With less than half of the school summer holidays now left, there are still a few intrepid souls heading off into the sunset on their annual planned vacation. The big decisions are deciding on what exactly to take with you and what to leave behind. This Bert Thomas (1883-1966) cartoon highlights the situation we all very nearly find ourselves in each year.

Transcript below:

LADY: (off for the holidays). "I think we've got everything now"
CABBY: "Seems a pity, some'ow to leave the winder-boxes behind, don't it?"

Sunday, 25 July 2010


Once again I’ve picked a cartoon originally drawn during the 1st World War period from 1914-1918. Discipline during this period was strict and being found drunk on duty was a serious crime. However this Frank Reynolds (1876-1953) cartoon illustrates a moment during the inquiry which probably highlights the ordinary soldier’s feelings for their equally strict and forceful battalion Sergeant-Major.

Transcript below:


OFFICER: "Now, Sergeant-Major, what makes you think this man was drunk?"
SERGEANT-MAJOR: "Sir, on the night of the 25th, when I met the accused, 'e raised 'is 'at, accompanying the motion with the words. 'Good evenin', Blue Beard!'"

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Statistically the summer months are the busiest for acquiring new pups apparently, followed closely by the infamous Christmas period. This new addition to the family is great and changes home life forever. Cats will ultimately rule the world, while Dogs, however much they will deny it, need humans to survive. When acquiring a new puppy one of the first requirements is to instruct the dog in the manners of life and to train them to follow basic commands. Depending on how crazy your dog is this can often be quite a trial, as illustrated in this George L Stampa (1875-1951) cartoon.

Transcript below:

THE WOMAN: "I do wish you two would walk properly."

Sunday, 18 July 2010


The 150th British Open Golf Championship at St. Andrews tested the professionals’ capacity to play in all weathers, especially on the Friday when they sampled a day more often found at Dale or Skaw in Shetland. Some mastered the course and the weather while others fell foul of the conditions and faltered. Frank Reynolds (1876-1953) cartoon depicts an a special technique developed to cope with such situations.

Very Advanced Golf

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


On the eve of the 150th British Open, todays cartoon highlights the now universal game of golf. The Open was first played in 1860 at Prestwick and attracted a field of 8 professional Scottish golfers, who played three rounds of the 12 hole course in a single day. The style of wear for the golfer of the early 20th century favoured the 'plus fours', or trousers that extended just four inches below the knee, hence the name. Thankfully the more casual style of today has now become the norm. This cartoon by Bertram Prance (1889-1958) depicts some of the pomposity that surrounded the game for a long number of years.

Transcript below:

COLONEL PEPPER: (to woman sauntering aimlessly across fairway). "Now then! Hurry up with that baby of yours."
WOMAN: "Baby yourself - playing with that little ball and in them knickers!"

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


The arrival of the superyacht 'LADY B' in Lerwick Harbour this week, all £10 million pounds worth of aluminium and walnut highlights the continuation of the wealthy to indulge in beautiful pieces of precision marine engineering. The downside of owning anything of such value and beauty, is the tendency to harbour an over zealous protective nature as illustrated by this Charles Grave (1886-1944) cartoon.

Transcript below:

FASTIDIOUS YACHTSMAN: "Can't you find some other part of the river on which to practise your horrible cult of nudism and pickled onions?"

Monday, 5 July 2010


War-time humour is a difficult subject, and when the 'Great War' as it was known broke out in 1914 the cartoonists of the day obviously had a period of doubt as to where their exact duty lay. War, with its unspeakable horrors and always misery-making consequences, is very far from being a fun-productive subject. However, very soon into the conflict it became apparent that the serving men and women had not allowed their native sense of humour to be quenched. Very much to the contrary, there was never a time when the cartoonist was more needed to help lighten the darkness into which ultimately most of Europe was plunged. Illustrated below is one from this era, and over the weeks I will post up some more showing how the humour progressed as the War dragged on to it's final conclusion in 1918. Frederick H. Townsend (1868-1920) cartoon shows how the soldiers coped with the French language.

Transcript below:

TOMMY: (to Jock, on leave). "What about the lingo? Suppose you want an egg over there, what do you say?"
JOCK: "Ye juist say, 'Oof.' "
TOMMY: "But suppose you want two?"
JOCK: "Ye say 'Twa oofs,' and the silly auld fule wife gies ye three, and ye juist gie her back one. Man, it's an awfu' easy language."

Friday, 2 July 2010


Six weeks or so of  "I'm bored" and various other small crisis as the youngsters are slipped for the Summer Holidays and they go on a variety of adventures. Some of them planned and some unplanned as they all seek a new activity to explore or attempt. In a hundred years little has changed, and while possibly today's children don't necessarily have the same freedom as those of the early 20th century, the end result is often the same. A. Wallis Mills (1878-1940) cartoon depicts a flustered mother's attempt to find her wayward son.

Transcript below:

FLUSTERED LADY: "Have you seen a small boy?"
RECUMBENT GENTLEMAN: "Sandy-haired fat little demon? He's playing by himself near the breakwater."
FLUSTERED LADY: "No; I'm looking for my son __ a golden-haired plump little boy."
RECUMBENT GENTLEMAN: "Oh, I beg your pardon. He's playing by himself near the breakwater."

Monday, 28 June 2010


The pundits, presenters, experts, call them what you want, seem to be of the opinion that apart from England having a singular lack of talent, they also appeared to lack any conviction. This didn’t seem to be a problem back in the 1920’s, as illustrated by this cartoon from Leslie P Marchant!

Transcript below:


STRANGER: "What's that rough fellow doing in the team? He doesn't seem to know much about football."
NATIVE: "Oh, they allus play ole Ginger against the bobbies. E's 'ad sixteen convictions."

Friday, 25 June 2010


Travel to distant and often exotic locations were a luxury few could afford in the early 1920's and 1930's but, as before, cartoonists brought out the excitement of such travel, highlighting the possible thrills and exhilaration of such a trip. Leonard Raven-Hill's (1867-1942) cartoon from the late 1920's illustrates such a scene.

Transcript below:


VISITOR TO THE WEST INDIES: (who has been warned against bathing in the river because of the alligators, but has been told by the boatman that there are none at the river's mouth). "By Jove, this is ripping! But, I say, how do you know there are no alligators here?"
BOATMAN: "Well, you see, Sah, de alligator am so turr'ble feared ob de shark!"

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Now that the night and day has turned, it's time to think of holidays and sunshine before the Christmas cards start appearing in the shops. European Community travel nowadays involves no great hassle as you progress through customs, as we are all one happy family allegedly. However border control was a different story in the early 20th century and all travellers were subjected to a full search. Ernest H. Shephard's (1879-1976) cartoon below depicts a scene at a French Customs point.

Transcript below:

CUSTOMS OFFICER: "Have you anything to declare?"
OLD LADY: (very slowly and distinctly). "I'm joining my husband at Vichy. He is suffering from rheumatism."

Monday, 21 June 2010


Carnivals were thought to have been initially based around a religious festival held mainly in Catholic countries. In the days before Lent, all rich food and drink had to be disposed of. The consumption of this, in a giant party that involved the whole community is thought to be the origin of Carnival. The most famous ones being the Venetian Carnival first recorded in medieval Italy, spreading throughout Europe, and then the other most notable ones being the Caribbean Carnivals, the Brazilian Rio Carnival and of course the Lerwick Summer Carnival. Charles Harrison’s cartoon from 1933 captures the local spirit of the event.

Transcript below:

RAILWAY PORTER: (to Jones, who has arrived at seaside resort on carnival day) "It'll be a narrer squeak, Sir, but I'll do my best to git your luggidge to the hotel before I takes part in the procession."

Friday, 18 June 2010


The trouble sometimes with trying to trace ones ancestors was the tendancy up until very recently to name the newborn after their father, grandfather, mother, grandmother etc. etc. While I wouldn't have had it any other way, four of our own family with exactly the same name were alive and kicking at one time, which was not unusual at all, but did cause the occasional confusion especially at Banks, Building Societies and Christmas time. This was in the days long before computer ID's, PIN numbers or Passwords and the cartoon by A. Wallis Mills (1878-1940) chosen for today highlights a similar circumstance.

Transcript below:


                                STRANGER: "Can you tell me where Mr. Tooley lives?"
                                NATIVE: "There's fifteen families o' Tooleys."
                                STRANGER: "Mr Samuel Tooley?"
                                NATIVE: "There's twenty Sam Tooleys."
                                STRANGER: "He is, I believe, a carpenter."
                                NATIVE: "Ten o' em's carpenters."
                                STRANGER: "His age is seventy-eight."
                                NATIVE: "Ah, that must be me. What can I di fur ee?"

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


In the early years the emigrants wrote home to their families, telling of their success or otherwise as they tried to make a new life in a far and distant country. Quite a few worked hard and did well, sending back occasional unusual and exotic gifts. Many a Shetland home had a few items similar to the one referred to in this cartoon by Stan Terry from 1926.

Transcript below:

SQUIRE'S DAUGHTER: (after reading letter from cottager's son abroad). "And what will you do with the striped kimono your son says he's sending home?"
RUSTIC MOTHER: "You may well ask, Missie. I suppose I'll have to put it in one o' the pig-sties; but what I'm goin' to feed it on goodness only knows."

Monday, 14 June 2010


The number of Britons indulging in foreign travel in the 1920’s and ‘30’s was small – being confined almost entirely to those wealthy enough to afford the cost and time to travel. In these modern days all that has changed and holidays abroad are a common occurrence. But those early 20th century cartoonists invited you to spend time with them in exotic locations around the world, as well as onboard the main transport of the day, passenger steamers and liners plying their trade across the oceans. Charles Grave (1886-1944) often chose marine travel for his excellent cartoons.

Transcript below:

THE MERCHANT: "But, your 'Ighness, look. Ver' good, ver' real, dam genooine antique!"
THE PASSENGER: "You're wasting your time, Willie. Ah coom from Wolverhampton, where they make them things."

Friday, 11 June 2010


The media hype surrounding the forthcoming tournament in South Africa might do well to realise that really it’s "only a game" ….. as can been seen from this cartoon by Inder Burns from 1923. 

Transcript below:

CAPTAIN OF THE ROVERS. " ' Erbert, w'y can't yer keep up wiv the uvver forwards ?"
'ERBERT. " 'Cause they adn't ter blow up the blinkin' ball afore the game started, 'ad they?"

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


These ones have no relation to any current events as such and are just random choices simply because they make me smile and you might like them too.  This one by Norman Kay from 1921.

Transcript below:

THEATRICAL BOOKING AGENT (to Contortionist). "Have you ever done your stunt for the Radio?"

Monday, 7 June 2010


In both the ancient and modern world, the tradition of breaking a bottle over the bows of a new ship has very strong ties to religious traditions of blessing and protection. Many ancient cultures had a tradition of sacrificing wine or other liquids (blood, milk, water) to the gods for protection or favour. Champagne became more and more popular throughout the 18th and 19th centuries as a symbol of luxury and richness. As such the ordinary seaman had little chance to sample their delights, as alluded to in this Charles Grave (1886-1944) cartoon.

Transcript below:

BLUEJACKET: “Pull yerself together, ‘Erbert. We licked all the champagne off ‘er bows when she was launched.”

Saturday, 5 June 2010


Motoring in the early 20th Century was an exciting if dangerous pastime. No driving tests were introduced until 1935 and accidents were common. Hand signals were the norm; indicators had yet to be invented. The ubiquitous Ford Model T was first built in 1908 and by 1920 half of all the motor vehicles in the world were Model T’s. By 1927 production ceased after 19 years and 15 Million vehicles. Many elderly folk had never seen or travelled in a motor car before and the experience was a huge novelty, as in this cartoon by Henry M Brocks (1875-1960) depicts.

Transcript below:

DEAR OLD LADY (having a lift - her first motor ride - as chaffeur signals a turn) "Look here, young man - you keep both hands on the wheel. I'll tell you when it begins to rain."

Thursday, 3 June 2010


To start this blog sharing the fun and humour of old 'Punch' style cartoons from the early 20th century I have chosen one relating to the performers from the Music Hall era. The Music Hall brought together a huge variety of different acts, which together formed an evening of light hearted entertainment. By the late 19th century there were around 400 large halls spread around the UK, and at its peak the Music Hall was the television of its day.

It's stars were enormously popular and provincial tours around the country became very fashionable, visiting the smaller towns and cities. This in turn led to touring 'variety concert parties' who performed in country villages and parishes. This cartoon by George Belcher (1875-1947) depicts a country hall variety concert, where the visiting urban magician is upstaged by a local.

Transcript below:

CONJURER AT VILLAGE CONCERT. (to native who has volunteered to assist him) "And now I think I will surprise you, for I am going to produce a live rabbit from your right-hand coat pocket"
NATIVE. "Oi certainly 'ull be surprised if yew do. Oi've had my ferret in un all evening."
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