Monday, March 25, 2013

Patent Medicine Almanacs-Politically Incorrect Humor

If you are an honest lover of times past you have to admit that there was also a lot of bad stuff back then.  Cholera.  Itchy wool clothing.  Outdoor plumbing arrangements.

And our sires grand, great grand and farther back left a lot to be desired in other ways.  They were often possesed of opinions with repect to other races, religions, even towards women, that would be unacceptable today.

We have changed for the better in these regards.  And since change is a slow process it is not fair to damn our predecessors for their imperfections.  Here are a few samples from patent medicine almanacs of the day.  Sorry if anyone is offended, I find these items quaint and illustrative, not humorous per se.

This from an almanac for Greens August Flower.  Notice the plug for their product?

Here is another offering from a Hostetters Bitters almanac around the turn of the century:
This sort of "humor" is not so long extinct.  The supposed interest of young black boys in watermelons was still being used in the "Little Rascals" shorts of the 1930's, which were still in common replay on the television of my 1950s/60s youth.

Another bit of cultural common knowlege back then related to Jews and money.  So probably everyone knew what this was all about:

 But just in case somebody needed a little less subtle version:

Cartoon noses, Mr. Loanstein and his son Iky.  

But lest you think the Hostetter Company (and others, my collection contains worse) only slurred blacks and Jews, here they make fun of:

And of women:

 New brides were a sub type in the genre:
Another little vignette from the 1890s, played for pathos not humor.  Here is the noble explorer helping the primitive African.  Never mind that the pith helmeted chap likely had far less resistance to tropical ailments than the native.  Perhaps the dusky fellow was only constipated.

Can we poke fun at homeless people?  Sure, why not.

Drather Sitdown is actually a somewhat clever turn of phrase.

I will finish up this little rogue's gallery with a diptych from an 1880 patent medicine almanac.  If you examine it closely you will see all sorts of shenanigans going on!

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