Untold lives blog

22 December 2021

Clever Christmas Jokes: festive illustrations from 1910

The December 1910 edition of The London Magazine decided to move away from the tradition of sharing typical Christmas jokes for the festive season, and instead to draw its readers’ attention to a selection of Yuletide drawings.  The magazine considered that the drawings chosen were 'Characteristic examples of the best humorous black-and-white work of the day'.

The artists featured included:

  • W. Heath Robinson, famed for his 'mechanical humour' with many of his works featuring wheels, ropes and other mechanical aids.

Testing Christmas Puddings: An Imaginary Mechanical Process involving a small boy being fed puddings whilst seated in a weighing device 'Testing Christmas Puddings: An Imaginary Mechanical Process by Mr. W. Heath Robinson', The London Magazine, December 1910, p. 499 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

  • George and Norman Morrow, who came from a family of illustrators, renowned for their illustrative work both in colour and black and white featuring 'a brimful of Irish Wit'.

Three illustrations of how toys are made – testing small-arms in the toy armoury, a speed test for toy motors, and casting funny masks from life.'How Christmas Toys are Made' by George Morrow – The London Magazine, December 1910, p. 500 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

  • John Hassall,  'a master of line', whose works are considered to be the best in their field, and F. H. Townsend, who was best known as an illustrator for Punch magazine.

Three illustrations of 'Clever Christmas Jokes' - ‘Hope’ where an artist is told his Christmas picture might be accepted for publication if he changes almost everything in it; ‘Oil on Troubled Waters’ where a pudding is lit with paraffin after brandy fails to ignite; and ‘Cigars’ where a young woman wants to buy a box of cigars suitable for a fair, slim gentleman.'Clever Christmas Jokes' - ‘Hope’ by Norman Morrow; ‘Oil on Troubled Waters’ by John Hassall; and ‘Cigars’ by F. H. Townsend – The London Magazine, December 1910, p. 501 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence


We hope, as the editors of The London Magazine did in 1910, that these festive illustrations have provided something a little different from the usual Yuletide jokes and brought a little cheer for this festive season.

Karen Stapley
Curator, India Office Records

Further reading:
P.P.6018.ta - The London Magazine, December 1910, No.2 [new series], pp. 496-502.

 

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