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    Description

    Remarkable Set of Eight Satirical Put-Down Ribbons From the 1880 Election, one of the "Signature" items from the Joe Brown Collection. We have seen designs from this series mistakenly attributed to the 1888 campaign, but they are, in fact, from 1880. Several deal with the explosive issue of Chinese immigrant labor. One pictures a Chinese "Garfield Laboring Man" and refers to the candidate's apparent attempt to straddle both sides of the issue. Another with a Chinese man declares "Busted! By Gar-Field." An elaborate horizontal cartoon design shows Garfield & Hancock on a canal boat (a possible reference to Garfield working on the Ohio canal as a youth). Garfield points at Hancock, who is being knocked overboard by a low bridge marked "329" (a reference to the Credit Mobilier scandal). A young black man drives a mule team along the towpath, three of the mules labeled "Lies," "Forgery," and "Theft." "Telegraph it to the boys again!" it is headed- likely a reference to Garfield receiving a telegraphed copy of the so-called "Morey letter" and declaring it a forgery (a claim historians support). The lower right has a quote from Democratic vice-presidential candidate William H. English, "Wouldn't have had this for 30 cts."

    Until about 1990, only one of these ribbons was known to collectors- the above-described example (Fischer & Sullivan JAG-32). Joe Brown acquired a group of eight 1880 put-down ribbons causing author Roger Fischer to reassess some of the views rendered in his book. He discusses the very ribbons offered in this lot in an article in the Fall 1990 issue of APIC's Keynoter magazine. He writes: "Since Joe Brown's new acquisitions have nearly tripled the known number of put-down ribbons from this period, I would concede cheerfully that our genteel Victorian forebears were probably much less genteel than I had portrayed them and that as new memorabilia comes to light it will document further the raucous nature of the era's political wars." Were these ribbons anti or pro Garfield? Fischer reasons: "Since these ribbons all exploit allegations of Republican wrongdoing, the natural inference is that they were anti-Garfield ribbons issued by Hancock's Democratic forces. Our knowledge of late-nineteenth century campaigns, however, tells us that 'I Told You So' satirical ribbons were almost always issued by the winning party for post-election gloating and that these are in all likelihood pro-Garfield Republican pieces. The textual evidence is simply insufficient to determine definitively one way or another." He concludes by stating: "In short, these outstanding ribbons acquired by Joe Brown might be 1880 Democratic anti-Garfield campaign items, Republican post-election put-down gloats, or non-partisan vendor items mocking the general political process. I do not know. What is not in doubt is the outstanding historical significance of these fine pieces and the light they shed on political satire in a genteel age."

    As a collection they are incredibly important, and deserve to be kept together by an astute collector who appreciates them, as Joe Brown did, for their historical content as well as their display appeal. Condition is great on all eight, although several do have minor stain marks due to bleed-through from old album mounting. Sizes range from 2.5" x 3.75" to 4" x 6.75". Truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2005
    15th-16th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 551

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