Monday, November 3, 2008

Gulliver and the Lilliputians

I knew that Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift was a political satire, although it had been scrubbed over the years to become a children's tale (and a great Disney cartoon and paper doll set, too). Wikipedia refreshed my memory:

Broadly, the book has three themes: a satirical view of the state of European government, and of petty differences between religions; an inquiry into whether men are inherently corrupt or whether they become corrupted; a restatement of the older "ancients versus moderns" controversy previously addressed by Swift in The Battle of the Books.
For more, see's_Travels

This J. & P. Coats card may be an early example of clever product placement in a reproduced scene from literature. You can only imagine the eureka moment when a 19th-century ad men got the big idea to use their brand of thread to tie Gulliver down!

The reverse of the card recounts this scene from the book; the printer is listed as Donaldson Brothers, Five Points, N.Y., one of the great slums of early New York that was rehabilitated by the end of the 19th century, which is just about right for dating this card. The red stamp was probably the local merchant who stocked J. & P. Coats products.

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