Caricatures, Derby Election, April, 1859. BEMROSE.
Caricatures, Derby Election, April, 1859
Caricatures, Derby Election, April, 1859
Caricatures, Derby Election, April, 1859
Election Year 1859
Suite of 13 Large Lithograph Caricatures
Unrecorded Worldwide (OCLC, KVK, COPAC)
Derby, Bemrose & Sons, 1859

Caricatures, Derby Election, April, 1859.

Oblong Folio [27.5 x 38.8 cm], (13) lithographs. Bound in original printed publisher’s wrappers, linen strip on spine. Minor edge wear and rubbing to wrappers & mild toning to the lithographs.

Unrecorded suite of 13 large lithograph caricatures – preserved here in their original printed wrappers – which lampoon the 1859 parliamentary elections for the constituencies of the Borough of Derby and South Derbyshire. The local nature and no doubt quite limited print run of ephemeral political cartoons of this sort make them very rare today.

The first 11 lithographs treat the run-up to and results of the 30 April 1859 Derby Borough contest, in which the incumbent Liberals Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884) and Samuel Beale (1803-74) retained their seats against the challenge of the upstart Liberal William Melbourne James and the Conservative Henry Cecil Raikes (1838-91). These lively caricatures draw on sources as disparate as The Beggar’s Opera (1728), the Scottish folksong “Auld Lang Syne,” and the Odes of Horace. Michael Thomas Bass, the brewer under whose leadership the Bass Brewery became the largest in the world, inspires much imagery of barrels, imbibing and drunkenness (he carries in his pocket a bottle labeled with Bass Beer’s iconic triangle). Punning is rampant (Bass plays a bass solo, Raikes swings a garden implement at his rivals, etc.). The iconic, wooly Derby Ram headbutts James and carries Bass and Beale off to London.

The final 2 caricatures relate to the South Derbyshire contest of 7 May 1859, in which the Liberal William Mundy (1801-77) and the Conservative William Evans (1821-92) were elected. The third-place finisher and odd man out, Liberal Augustus H. Vernon, who lost by just one vote, is depicted in the final lithograph as a military recruit a hair too short to make the grade. The universal drama of election-night reversals-of-fortune is conveyed in this scene series by a series of ebullient faces labeled “Radicals before Declaration” contrasted with horrified, crestfallen faces labeled “Radicals after Declaration.”

The lithographs were printed by the prolific Derby firm of Bemrose & Sons. William Bemrose set up his printing business in Derby in 1826, in which his sons Henry Howe and William Jr. became partners in 1858. Several of the caricatures, all of which are all by the same hand, are signed “Bemrose,” suggesting that they were done in house (both sons were artistically inclined). The Bemrose firm not only catered to the humorous side of local politics, but also were the printers of record for election results: the Poll Book for the Southern Division of the County of Derby, Shewing how each Person Voted at the Contested Election, May 7th, 1859 and the Poll Book for the Borough of Derby … Shewing how each Person Voted at the Contested Election, Saturday, April 30th, 1859 were also published by Bemrose & Sons (using steam-powered presses). Henry Howe Bemrose would go on to serve as Mayor of Derby (1877-1878) and a Member of Parliament for Derby (1895 to 1900).


OCLC, KVK, and COPAC record no copies of this complete suite or of the individual lithographs.

Price: $1,850.00

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