One of the many treasures of Kensington Central Library’s store is our run of Punch magazines. Punch started in July 1841 as a radical illustrated magazine of humour: it began with an investment of £25, and initially sold about 6000 copies per week. Kensington Central Reference Library has a nearly complete collection of Punch magazines from its 151 year run, that ended in 1992.
1841: the first volume (“charivari” is a French word meaning a serenade of rough music, and was also the name of a French saticirical newspaper of that period).
According to The Victorian Web , Punch is likely short for Punchinello, from a Neapolitan word for a young turkey cock. The hooked nose of Punch’s mask resembles the turkey cock’s bill. See below for the first splashes of colour emerging in a 1952 edition (and Punch’s dog, Toby):
During its lifetime it showcased some of the best British cartoonists, a few who called themselves The Punch Brotherhood and were associated with Charles Dickens. At a later date, they also included EH Shepard, of Winnie-the-Pooh fame:
On a more topical theme, Punch on the Olympics (specifically the doping scandals of the 1976 events) and Punch on tennis (a tongue-in-cheek 1920’s take on how one behaves at the tennis club):
We’ll be showcasing some of our Punches in the Central Library, and the rest are all available by request from the Central Reference Library store. Come in and take a look!