Chopped Up Niggers: Puzzles to Put Together.
Chopped Up Niggers: Puzzles to Put Together.
Chopped Up Niggers: Puzzles to Put Together.
Chopped Up Niggers: Puzzles to Put Together.

Chopped Up Niggers: Puzzles to Put Together.

New York: McLoughlin Bros, circa 1875. Box. This set contains two puzzles (each with all their pieces) and the box. The box measures approximately 8.75” by 10.5”. Each puzzle measures about 9” x 10.5”. One puzzle depicts an African-American cakewalk dancer in drag with bonnet, cape, and parasol. The other puzzle shows a four-person African-American combo consisting of a singer, piano player, drummer, and bass player. The box top illustration is the picture guide for one of the puzzles; there is no guide for the other. The puzzle pieces are in nice shape with some light soiling; one piece has been repaired. The box shows some minor wear and soiling but the top illustration and lettering is bright and colorful. The box hinge is intact. Very good. Item #009422

There are apparently four two-puzzle sets in this series. The other box tops show a pair of cakewalk dancers, a man smoking a cigar, and a performer ringing a bell. All four are exceptionally scarce and very hard to find in serviceable original boxes with all their pieces. (Female cakewalk performers did not become common until the 1890s. Before that, men dressed in drag to portray women.)

These jigsaw puzzle sets have been characterized as “blatantly sadistic,” “threateningly violent,” and "the earliest and most racist" children's toy published in the United States. “Racist,” absolutely; “sadistic” and “threateningly violent,” absolutely not. The “chopped up” in the title simply refers to jigsaw or “dissection” puzzles, and another McLoughlin puzzle set published at the same time was titled "Chopped Up Animals". (See Cross’s "Kids' Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood.")

As of 2019, no other Chopped Up Niggers puzzle sets are for sale in the trade, and the Rare Book Hub shows no auction results for any of these puzzle sets. OCLC reports only one set is held (at the University of Florida) although other examples are at the New York Historical Society and at Princeton’s Cotsen Children's Library.

Price: $5,000.00

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