'The Patent Penny Knowledge Machine', caricature of the popular press, c 1830s.

McLean, T

'The Patent Penny Knowledge Machine', caricature of the popular press, c 1830s.
3 1 c m
40cm
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm

Description

Satire on the 'penny press', the new brand of papers produced from the 1830s onwards. Publishers, in this case Knight, Brougham & Co, relied on advertising rather than subscriptions for revenue and could therefore afford to sell the papers cheaply. The content therefore began to include more illustrations, features on everyday life and local news, intended to 'improve the minds and discipline the behavior of a potentially unruly class'. Small quantities of 'Whig liberalism' and 'Whig theology' are poured into the frothy mixture on top of the machine. 'A small seasoning of Infidelity' is being added to the mashing vat which is being stirred by a judge. John Bull is drained of pennies which emerge out of the 'proprietor's pipe', leaving pools of 'twaddle' to drain from the 'public's pipe'.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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