Frank Beard. [Lincoln and His Contemporaries in Caricature]. Sixteen folio leaves titled The Funniest of Awl and the Phunnyest sort of PHUN.
New York: The Great American News Company, 121 Nassau Street. June, 1864. A newspaper printed and sold in New York. Sheets 17 x 11 with distressed edges but full margins. Six inch tear in page 8 with a loss of image 3 x 1 inches near margin. Expected wear. A scarce piece. Reference: See Gary L. Bunker. From Rail-Splitter to Icon. Kent: Kent State University Press, 2001.
In 1864, the nation was in the midst of civil war and in the midst of a presidential campaign. Publisher N. Jennings Demorest and Editor Frank Bellew undertook a new satirical publication which lasted for about three years. English immigrant Bellew (1828-1888) wrote the text, while he and Ohioan Frank Beard provided the illustrations.
In this inaugural issue, twenty-two (22) caricatures and extensive text illustrate social movements of the times. Some of the more important caricatures are:
- Title page showing Abraham Lincoln as a jester playing a banjo and labelled "National Joker." Behind him is Salmon P. Chase who had just withdrawn his plan to run for president against Lincoln.
- Page 4 shows James Gordon Bennett being carried to prominence by his son among a cast of characters each with his own pursuits.
- Page 5 shows President Lincoln asleep in bed and surrounded by eleven men (Greeley, Weed, Seward, etc.) and one woman, "Miss Anna Dickeson" (noted abolitionist Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, the first woman to address Congress); they are measuring the president's shoes, obviously to see who would be large enough to fill them.
- Page 7 has two cartoons: first a black soldier confronts a white man successfully, and a second shows a humbling of Jefferson Davis and his wife cooking their own meal.
- Pages 8/ 9 show the Republican elephant blowing his horn at presidential candidates Grant, McClellan, Lincoln and Fremont. All pages in this newspaper/commentary have observations on American society.