Article #23 - originally published in the May/June 2003 issue of "The Cigar Label Gazette"

cigar label art author pic Did You Know?
by Chip Brooks

Article #23


I am amazed at the positive response from my last article, "Old Abe".  'Thank You' to everyone who took the time to let me know how much they enjoyed it.  It 'is' appreciated...

INTERNET SIDE NOTE: The original Gazette article had 13 images...this Internet version has over 25 examples...when you see a word that is underlined...just click on it.  Enjoy!

There are many joys that my modest label collection brings me.  One of my favorite past times is to establish the connection between the label's image or title when the relevance is obscure or not readily apparent.  Once I associate a label's title or image with an event or play or identify the person in the image...that label becomes more important and interesting to me.  "Old Abe" was just an Eagle on a cannon until I discovered the real story behind the cigar label.  Other examples include "Three Twins" (A Howling Success) the title of a Broadway play in the early 1900's; "Falcaro" was homage to Joe Falcaro a world champion pro-bowler in the 30's and 40's who is in the Pro Bowling Hall of Fame; and "Christy Girl" was a tribute to the world renowned artist Howard Chandler Christy, not only known for his portraits of the rich and famous but also as an illustrator for "Cosmopolitan" where he focused mainly on the emancipated woman.  This article is about one of those labels that has always intrigued me - "Puck".  Not a common label by any means, it is a Cuban litho with one version circa late 1870's.  So here we go...

Did You Know?

Researching on the Internet for an upcoming article about Unc Sam & John Bull, I was going through Judge covers (popular magazine in the 1880's) for images of the Unc when I saw an 1876 cover of Puck magazine.  What caught my attention and excited me was the publication's logo.  Virtually the same image as the cigar label, it was a young child riding a shooting star with a double pointed pen and black top hat and tails.  Bingo!

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Puck Cover 1876- cigar box label
"The Tattooed Columbia" Puck, © Nov. 1876

I thought it was very interesting that a Cuban cigar would be promoting a controversial political cartoon magazine from the U. S. and have tried without success to tie the two together.  Nevertheless I was delighted to have associated the label with the magazine.

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Puck early- cigar box label
"Puck" cigar label circa late 1870's - Cuban litho

The founding of the two leading American comic weeklies, Puck (1876) and later Judge (1881) were the renaissance of cartoons and political caricatures in this country.  Young Viennese artist and actor Joseph Keppler founded and was chief developer of Puck: the first great American success in comic journalism.  Until Puck, American humor journals had been modeled after England's Punch magazine (more later).  Refusing to do this, Keppler created a different type of magazine.  Its name was taken from the elfin character in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream whose famous quote was (appropriately enough)  "What fools these mortals be!"

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Puck Cover 1884- cigar box label
Puck cover © 1884

In the early days, Puck's cartoons were drawn on wood and were in black and white.  In 1878 Keppler began to draw on stone.  In order to brighten his pictures he tinted them slightly with a single color.  In 1879 Keppler used two colors or tints and from that time on the growth was steady and rapid.  Puck was the first full color stone lithography cartoon publication in the U.S., setting the standard for the bright and multi-colored cartoons of the 1900's.

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Puck outer- cigar box label
"Puck" outer cigar label circa 1920's?

With their many political cartoons and satirical caricatures, Puck and Judge weekly publications had a significant impact on the events of the time.

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Puck -Blaine 1884- cigar box label
Puck cartoon of James Blaine, Presidential candidate in 1884

It has been argued that Puck played a significant role in Grover Cleveland's defeat of James Blaine in the 1884 presidential election.  Bernard Gillam (Puck artist) drew Blaine as the "Tattooed Man".  Each charge of corruption against Blaine was tattooed on his body.  Though Blaine threatened to sue, he was persuaded by his political friends to back down.

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Duke Trade Card- cigar box label
The little Puck dude on an © 1886 tobacco card for Duke Cigarettes

Even though Puck's influence, representing the Mugwump and Democratic interests, was somewhat diluted by Judge, representing Republican interests, both continued to exert force on the political scene of the time.  Their weekly cartoons were the subjects of many an animated discussion in political circles.  Puck's circulation in the early 1880's was over 80,000 copies a week.

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Duke Trade Card- cigar box label
Schumacher & Ettlinger - 1880's

Puck Magazine moved to their new digs in 1887.  A Chicago-style Romanesque Building at Lafayette and Houston Streets, New York City. The Puck Mascot was placed in several locations around the building.  The new Puck headquarters was the world's largest lithographic pressworks under a single roof, with its own electricity-generating dynamo.

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UT Puck Outer- cigar box label
UT outer cigar label with Puck's elfin and Punch's dog - Toby

Joseph Keppler died on February 19, 1894.  Puck was taken over by his son, Joseph Keppler Jr., also a cartoonist.  William Randolph Hearst purchased the magazine in 1917 but due to failing circulation Hearst ceased publication of Puck in September 1918.

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Puck Outer- cigar box label
"Puck" textual outer circa 1915

Many of the cartoonists who originally had worked for Puck, W. A. Rogers, Frederick Burr Opper, T. B. Gillam, Louis Dalrymple and Eugene Zimmerman, eventually moved on to various publications such as Judge, Life magazine, New York Journal, New York Herald and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Knowingly or not, you have probably seen Zimmerman's work as he was the creator of the character in "Uncle Jake's Nickel Seegar".

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Uncle Jake- cigar box label
"Uncle Jake's" cigar label - © 1925

Eugene 'Zim' Zimmerman born in 1862 and identified by his block scrawl signature 'Zim', was the developer of the Grotesque school of caricature and one of the nation's most respected and original cartoonists of the late nineteenth century.

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Uncle Jake- cigar box label
"Uncle Jake's" inset - 'Zim' signature next to leg - left side

His caricatures depicted the foibles of mankind, exaggerated them, twisted and distorted the portrayal of their subjects and tore into the soul of America.  The biting humor of his cartoons sharpened the sting of their social and political messages.

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Zim's Teddy- cigar box label
"And Teddy Comes Marching Home" Zim - © Nov. 1898

Though Zim started his career with Puck, he later worked for Judge.  A prolific and energetic artist, Zim also painted formal portraits, wrote newspaper and magazine articles, drew a newspaper comic strip, illustrated books, created a cartoonist correspondence course and not only founded but was the first president of the American Association of Cartoonists and Caricaturists.

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Zim Cigars- cigar box label
"Zim Cigars"

As I was researching the Puck and Judge info, I discovered another familiar image.  Amazingly it was another magazine logo that has been mirrored on a cigar label..."Punch".

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Punch 1870's- cigar box label
"Punch" Cigar Label circa 1870's

I have a couple versions of the "Punch" label; both are Cuban litho's and both are pretty darn scarce.  So now we know that "Punch" cigars fashioned their label from the Punch Magazine logo.  The cigar manufacturer has been around since the 1860's and is still a current brand today using Dominican tobacco for the U.S. and Cuban tobacco for the rest of the world.

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Punch Magazine- cigar box label
Punch Magazine - © 1849

Punch Magazine: First Edition July 1841

One evening in early 1841 at the Edinburgh Castle public house in London, Mark Lemon and Henry Mayhew sat down to discuss the possibility of starting a new journal.  Both reforming liberals, their plan was to combine humor and political comment.  During the meeting Lemon remarked that "A humorous magazine, like good punch, needed lemon."  Mayhew laughed and stated "A capital idea!  Let's call the paper Punch."

SIDE NOTE: Punch Magazine was introduced in 1841 but the Punch character has been around since the 1600's (and some say even longer) in the form of a puppet and star of the "Punch and Judy" show.  The puppet show is still very popular with the children today.  --Don't really know why because the story is about a deformed, child-murdering, wife-beating psychopath who commits appalling acts of violence and cruelty upon all those around him and escapes scot-free.  Only his dog Toby survives....go figure.--

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Punch 1880's- cigar box label
"Punch" cigar label - circa 1880's

Though Punch was very critical of English politics, the periodical remained neutral when it came to American politics.

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Punch Brass Di- cigar box label
"Punch" Brass Embossing Di - circa late 1890's

Throughout the 1900's Punch employed Britain's top cartoonists including F. H. Townsend, Frank Reynolds, Bernard Partridge and Alexander Boyd.  During the 1980's the circulation of Punch dropped dramatically.  The owners, United Newspapers, stopped publishing the magazine in 1992.  In 1996 Mohamed Al Fayed re-launched the magazine.  The venture was unsuccessful and Punch ceased publication in June 2002.  That's what I call a darn good run...156 years in print!

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Punch Seal- cigar box label
"Royal Punch" New York brand, circa 1880

Whew!  Ok, Ok...this started off as a SHORT article about my discovery of the origins of a scarce image titled "Puck".  As I traveled the various avenues available to researchers, this article took on a life of its own and one discovery led to another.  I hope you found the info entertaining as well as enlightening.  After all, when is the last time you heard the term "Mugwump"?  By the way, "Mugwump" is an Algonquin word meaning "Great Men": a name that Charles A. Dana of the New York Sun labeled this group of ex-Republicans.  Like the sarcasm of Puck and was a slam on those aristocratic schmucks that thought they were better than the rest!

Hope you enjoyed the info...until next time,

May You and Your Collection Prosper!

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