A hint to the fifty-sixth Congress / Keppler.
Print shows a gladiator labeled "Sound Money", holding a sword labeled "Currency Reform", standing over a fallen gladiator labeled "Free Silver" who appeals to the crowd for mercy, but instead receives the thumbs-down gesture.
It wasn't really until the 1700s that caricature truly blossomed as a form of political criticism. In the late 1750s, a man named Thomas Townshend began using the techniques employed by earlier engravers and applying them towards a political model. This gave Thompson's cartoons a much greater feeling of propaganda than previous artistic critiques of the time. The intense political climate of the period, and often accusatory nature of most political cartoons forced many artists to use pseudonyms in order to avoid accusations of libel. Other artists took it a step farther, and left their cartoons completely unsigned, foregoing any credit they may have received. Political higher-ups were notoriously touchy about their reputations and were not afraid to make examples of offenders. Puck was the first successful humor magazine in the United States of colorful cartoons, caricatures and political satire of the issues of the day. It was published from 1871 until 1918.
Puck was founded by Austrian-born cartoonist Joseph Keppler and his partners as a German-language publication in 1876. Puck’s first English-language edition in 1877. The magazine name came from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream: “What fools these mortals be!” Puck used lithography instead of wood engraving and offered three cartoons vs. one of competitors. The cartoons were initially printed in black and white, but soon it changed into full, eye-catching color. Within a few years, Judge supplanted Puck as the leading humor magazine.