What’s the story…?

We get lots of weird and wonderful enquiries at the PHM and our small team do our best to get back to them all.  In the first of an occasional series of blogs, we’d like to share with you one of our Registrar’s informative replies…

Q. What is the story behind this fellow? IMG_2519

A. To answer your question, the wooden top-hatted ‘Capitalist’ figure/cartoon was a promotional prop-up, part of the National Council of Labour Colleges (NCLC) touring exhibition and campaigning in the latter 1930s. The figure is referring, virtually pointing,  to that very exhibition and was placed  in front of the NCLC stalls, on which were posters, pamphlets, and NCLC courses information. NCLC was Marxist and taught Marxist history. It is perhaps reasonable to assume that the ‘Capitalist’ figure might have said the same about these specific displays relating to the 1930s, Unemployment and the Hunger marches, so we were (originally, in 1994) kind of toying with  the idea, I suppose;  but it’s not to be taken too seriously:  ie, it’s more about the NCLC and the era.

British Communist Party caricatures on the stock ‘Capitalist’ figure in the 1930s could sometimes be quite extreme: we have an oil painting from the late 1920s (not on display) depicting ‘him’ with spatted shoes which morph skilfully into cloven hooves (ie devil-like), and he has pointed ears! All very damning, and it’s certainly a bleak painting. Rarely are these caricatures anti-Semitic in 1930s Britain (I’m not sure if true of the British Union of Fascists); though in Nazi Germany in the 1930s such far-right caricatures often were, though I am not sure if that was true of German Communist anti-capitalist caricatures and stereotyping.

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