Friday, June 23, 2017


Wish You Were Here, from Gene Carr

Here's a Gene Carr postcard from the Rotograph Co., issued in 1906. The gag goes over my head -- can anyone parse the century-old stereotypes here well enough to explain it? I'm guessing it's a St.Patrick's Day card, but why the fat Dutchman leading the parade???

As long as explanations are being called for, what in the heck is that faceless refugee from a genetics experiment gone wrong in the lower left? Yipes!


This on Wikipedia:
Maybe the very idea of the Dutch / Germans leading the Irish in any context was meant to be comical, like a stereotypical Scotsman buying the drinks.

The critter lower left was likely meant to be a dog with his head turned to watch the Dutchman, as the boy is. The concealed face, combined with the unfortunate color choice and unnatural proportions (comparable to the other big-headed dog, with the same deformed back legs), add up to a creepy visual.

Also: Why is the little boy staring at the Dutchman's crotch?

Guessing 111 years after the fact, I'd say Carr did his four main figures and a bit carelessly tossed in the boy and dogs to indicate a parade, or at least a public spectacle.

In the vernacular of the time, the term Dutch often refers to Germans, but it would seem here they mean actual Hollanders or their descendants.The Irish are associated with Roman Catholicism, and their pet color is Green. The Dutch were associated with Protestantism, and their color of choice was orange, from the royal house of Orange. The color Orange became a "Protestant Color" in the endless "Troubles" in Ireland, the Protestant factions battling the Catholic ones during St. Patrick's day festivities, a serious bone of contention being which color would be associated with St. Patrick, the patron saint of all Irishmen.
The gag here is that to think that the dutch would lead the Irish in a parade, with the Irishers wearing Orange instead of Green sashes, is a fantastic expression of impossibility, like "The day pigs fly!". I realize the prominent color in this card is actually Yellow, an oversight by Rotograph, I'm sure, but the point of the gag would be understood in 1906.
Thanks Donald and Mark for the primer on 1900s stereotyping. I wasn't aware that the Dutch were symbolic of Protestantism. Armed with that info, I suppose I get the gag, barely.

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]