Pic of the Week: Saint Patrick’s Day

Puck magazine cover marking Saint Patrick's Day in 1911

Puck magazine cover marking Saint Patrick’s Day in 1911

What do parades, shamrocks, and green beer bring to mind? Saint Patrick’s Day, of course. The first Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the United States took place in the 18th century in Boston and New York, and festivities expanded in the 19th century as more and more Irish immigrated to the country.

Today, Saint Patrick’s Day is observed nationwide by people of all backgrounds—akin to the Fourth of July or Halloween. But early on, Irish immigrants saw it partly as a way to express their civic pride against anti-immigrant detractors.

Puck was one such detractor. A political satire magazine published between 1877 and 1918, its cartoons caricatured the Irish—depicting negligent servants, scheming political bosses, and reckless agitators. By March 15, 1911, when the cover shown here was published, the magazine had softened its treatment somewhat, although not entirely.

Titled On the Seventeenth—The Irishman’s Idea of Atlas, the cover shows an old Irish man as the god Atlas holding aloft a globe on which Ireland makes up an entire hemisphere. In his other hand, he clutches a shillelagh, a thick stick often used as a weapon. Shamrocks line the sides and bottom of the design, and the title Puck is made of Celtic knots.

Like many Puck covers, this one came into the Library’s collection through copyright registration. The magazine’s publishers, Keppler and Schwarzmann, registered the cover art with the U.S. Copyright Office on March 13, 1911, depositing two copies.

More than 2,500 colorful Puck cartoons are available in the Library’s prints and photographs online catalog.

 

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