A series of unconnected caricature vignettes. The centre of the print is dominated by a large set of scales – a well-established symbol within the English satirical canon – which are weighted heavily towards the side containing 659 “£10 voters”, as opposed to the 36 well-dressed gentlemen of the “close packed corporation”. Beneath the scales a tubby gent in a bicorn hat tries to correct this imbalance by helplessly tugging at a rope. The multiple punning references to oaks are reinforced by the image of a dying tree stump, which Grant had given a human face, that looks miserably on from the background whilst a vulture, or some other bird of prey, circles above it menacingly. In the bottom left-hand corner two men, an undertaker and a man carrying the trappings of a pharmacist, stand in conversation. The apothecary, with a face that appears to be hideously scarred by smallpox; above stands a huge wheel of cheese, out of which crawls a figure. The rest of the print is covered by a motley collection of characters including ‘Teddy the Mower’ – a hobo who carries an official mace that’s been turned into a scythe, ‘Turn Again Dick’ – A two-faced politician who advocates reform but also brandishes an article written for the Tory press, ‘A German Duck’ – A grotesquely overweight and featureless figure that has a dead bird hanging out of his coat pocket and the unnamed figure of an auctioneer. The print refers to the campaign for the 1835 general election campaign that began in Bury St Edmunds. The multiple references to ‘oaks’ relate to a prominent local banker by the name of James Henry Oakes, a staunch Tory supporter, who used his considerable wealth to pack the town Corporation with placemen who would deliver the policies he wanted. It is possible that the portly figure who is attempting to pull the scales back in favour of the “Close Pack’d Corporation” may be James Henry Oakes himself, although the character bears no resemblance to the 1839 portrait of Oakes held by the National Gallery.
- Printmaker: Grant, C. J. (Charles Jameson), active 1830-1852, printmaker.
- Title: 659 to 36!! [graphic] : great odds for the oak stake / CJG., London, Jany. 4th 1835.
- Published: [Bury St. Edmunds : Published by the Society for the Suppression of Conservative Vice, & sold by all Lovers of Reform of Abuses & to be had of E. Birchenall [i.e. Birchinall], Churchgate St., Bury, ca. 4 January 1835]
Acquired September 2014