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Bruff’s Illustrated Manuscript Newspapers Lampooning the Mexican-American War, Santa-Anna & Other Appropriate Targets


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84.     [BRUFF, Joseph Goldsborough (attributed)]. Two issues of illustrated manuscript newspapers reporting on local New York news, politics, and the Mexican-American War, both entitled: “Jamaica Journal & Reporter.” November 25, 1846 & November, 1847. Each 4 pp., folio, 32 x 20.2 cm, manuscript text in a beautiful, legible hand, elaborate mastheads, and terrific illustrations in ink. Creased where formerly folded, first issue with small triangular void at one fold (loss of a few letters), otherwise very fine. Extremely unusual—marvelous iconography that merits publication and exhibit.

     These two manuscripts are sharply entertaining, humorous, intelligent, highly clever, remarkably illustrated, and in speaking of the propensity of humans to engage in war, quite poignant. It is always dangerous to speculate attribution. Thus, we are restrained merely to state that in tone, text, humor, handwriting, and fluidity of line drawing, there is a marked resemblance to the lively art work and brilliant drollness found in the work of accomplished artist, cartographer, and U.S. Topographical Engineer Joseph Goldsborough Bruff, best known for his ‘49er account Gold Rush: The Journals, Drawings (1944). Kurutz in his bibliography of the California Gold Rush (#93A) comments on Bruff’s journals: “While recording what he saw in his journal in eloquent detail, Bruff also produced a series of sketches, diagrams, and maps unequaled in overland travel.” Bruff also assisted in the creation of the second most important map relating to the Mexican-American War [see Item 265 herein]. Bruff’s noted lithographed Rebus Letter might prove edifying in regard to the present manuscripts (see our Auction 16, Lot 16).

     Among the writer’s comments is the following passage:

War has been justly called the greatest blessing this poor world has ever been blessed with. Its advantages are so numerous that one cannot begin to enumerate them. Its universality proves its usefulness. No one portion of the globe has ever been for any considerable time deprived of its happy influences. The earth is made fertile by the blood which war pours out. Man knows not how much he is indebted to war for all the blessings with which he is surrounded. It ennobles human nature and gives to man an opportunity to ascertain and develop the finer feeling which would otherwise lie forever dormant in his bosom. We have no room to speak of the advantages of the Mexican War. The column is full.

     In a tongue-in-cheek comparison of various ministers’ sermons in New York, the writer comments on Reverend Colonel Perry, who undoubtedly is James Hazzard Perry, 1811-1862 (Handbook of Texas Online), a native of New York who resigned West Point in 1836 to join the Texas Revolution, in which he served as an officer and volunteer aide. After the war, Burnet commissioned Perry as a colonel, but he subsequently returned to New York and entered the Methodist ministry, receiving his first preaching assignment in Connecticut in 1838. In 1843 and 1844, Perry made a very popular lecture tour discussing the Battle of San Jacinto (he detested Sam Houston). During the Civil War Perry served as colonel in the Union Army and commanded the 48th Regiment of New York State Volunteers, “Perry’s Saints.”

Jamaica Division is growing gradually. It held a public meeting on Monday evening Nov 8th in the M.E. Church. The meeting was well attended, the church being crowded. The Revd Coll Perry from Connecticut was the principal speaker on the occasion. The people were all well pleased with him. He is indeed a fine speaker. This the same Perry who treed Santa Anna in the Texian War. The people of course were anxious to see him on that account.

One of the fantastic cartoons portrays the United States as a wide-eyed and eager giant crocodile. Each state or territory is written on the length of the beast’s body, except Texas, which seems to be represented by a tambourine adorned with a Lone Star hanging from the crocodile’s raised tail. The crocodile opens his huge, scary jaws attempting to devour a soldier (“Ampudia”) who aims a long lance at the crocodile. Ampudia, dressed more like a Spanish conquistador, is mounted on a balking mule labelled “Mexico.” Behind the mule creeps a scruffy mutt identified as “California.” Accompanying text is:

“Our county, tis of thee

Land of the noble free.”

Without a King:

Thou art our boast and pride

With jaws spread open wide.

Thy praise we’ll sing.

Not the editors jaws, but those of the country as in the following illustration which we will try and make, so that it will explain itself.

The above Rough & Ready is not a Taylor though he carries something resembling a pair of shears and should he shear the critter with his tail between his legs, there would be a great cry and little Wool the fleece being generally Worthless; and should he so constrain his constitution as to swallow all he is trying to, he will have “no great catch after all, Mister Devil”; as the boy told the man who had wrapped himself up in a Bull’s hide to frighten him.

Moral. Some folks (Americans) will swallow any thing ears and all. “Make way for Liberty he cried And then his jaws threw open wide.” {O! Tempora o Mores!}

Santa-Anna comes in for his share of the writer-artist’s rapier wit. He is depicted as a large, craven bird of prey in a Napoleonic hat clutching with huge claws a huge bag on which is written “$2,000,000.” Beneath is a pedestal with writing: “Bound for Europe,” and in large fancy letters: “Santa Anna’s Claws.” This is followed by a three-part rebus with the letter “J” and drawings of a cob horse and a barking dog, identified as “Jacob Barker.” Barker was the notorious Quaker-turned-Wall Street financier-speculator, an original member of Tammany Hall, who (like Bernard Madoff) left a stream of failed banks and institutions in his wake, was convicted of fraud, and provoked intense ill will among rival speculators and the populace at large. Accompanying text:

The seizure of the two millions of dollars by the Mexican generalissimo, for the express purpose of safe keeping is one of the greatest and most practical jokes of the present age. It is indeed a Capital one. He doubtless inserted the specie claws, after giving his receipt for the amount taken. Ja-cob-Barker, the great financier, in his most palmy days of many transactions, could not hold a candle to this once banished Mexican. There are very few individuals indeed who can with such perfect ease replenish the public treasury, or fill their own private coffers. The latter by far the most likely to be the fact in this case.


Sold. Hammer: $3,400.00; Price Realized: $4,080.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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