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Grolier Club Exhibitions

The Comic Almanack; the Misappropriation of Cruikshank’s Name and Work

The Comic Almanack, For 1835: An Ephemeris in Jest and Earnest, containing All Things Fitting for such a Work. By Rigdum Funnidos, Gent. Adorned with a Dozen of “Righte Merrie” Cuts, Pertaining to the Months, Sketched and Etched By George Cruikshank. London, Printed for Charles Tilt, Bibliopolist, in Fleet Street. Vizetelly, Brandston and Co., Printers, Fleet Street.

Complete set of 19 volumes of the almanac in original wrappers published 1835–1853 bound in nine volumes by Zaehnsdorf. The Comic Almanack, each with 12 of his witty drawings of London by month, was the perfect foil for Cruikshank’s talents. Enormously successful, it provided Cruikshank with his primary, if modest, regular income for many years.


Cover of first issue for year 1835.
1835: “March." The windy corner outside Charles Tilt’s print shop on Fleet Street with the proprietor in the doorway.
1850: “A New Court of Queen’s Bench. As It Ought to Be – Or – The Ladies Trying a Contemptible Scoundrel for a ‘Breach of Promise.’ ” Colored folding frontispiece.

The Gallery of Comicalities. Scrapbook of clippings. No title page, no date. On fourth leaf, paste-down newsprint cutouts: “The Gallery of Comicalities," followed by a clipped introduction and 175 pages of cartoon clippings from Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle.

By the late 1820s, Cruikshank’s name had become synonymous with the small humorous vignette, a new form of pictorial amusement for Britain’s growing readership. His style was often copied, his works misappropriated, and the Cruikshank name misused. The most egregious taking was by the weekly Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, which in the fall of 1827 misappropriated many of Cruikshank’s works to create a series of comical vignettes entitled “Gallery of Comicalities.” By December 1827, Robins, Cruikshank’s publisher, was threatening action against Bell’s owner, William Innell Clement.