Sunday, January 15, 2012

No Flies on Mother -- A Cartoon Puzzler

Here is a puzzle in need of solving. Ruta Snikeris has emailed these images of an original (approx. 16 by 20) unsigned 19c. Indian ink cartoon for identification. The image was purchased in the Boston area. I’m stumped -- don’t recognize the cartoonist, although the style is similar to that of Elmira NY cartoonists Zim and C. E. Toles (mutual influences on each other). Nor do I recognize the historical circumstances behind the cartoon. The caption is provocative -- “Children! There are no Flies on your Mother!! 1841 -- the WORLD IS MINE. -- 1891 AND you are “not in it.” The cartoon seems to have something to do with taxes and matrimony. The man with the tiny head (extreme left) is labeled  G. A. Crocker's boy. The gambler (?) has collapsed with a copy of The Sun in hand -- a clue? And who is the Mother, who dominates the composition? 


  1. It looks like one of the Puck artists, in particular J. S. Pughe, though it's a fairly generic style typical of the 1890s. The Mother would seem to be the wealthy widow of David Huyler of the successful candy company. Haven't figured out the rest, though. Why are her suitors portrayed as children? Could G. A. Crocker be a misspelling of Richard Croker, the head of Tammany Hall in the 1890s?

  2. I thought it was Queen Victoria representing England as mother of the British colonies.

  3. An article in the Brooklyn Eagle says that David Huyler, the confectioner, died in Aug 1885. Executors of his will were his son John S. Huyler and brother Jacob Huyler. His wife Abigail Ann Huyler was the beneficiary. At her death son John would recieve a house and properties while daughter Mrs. Martha Augustus Gaines recieved the rest. In 1891 there was another Mrs. Huyler running round NY defrauding wealthy citizens through seances.