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 are bright and colorful. The box hinge is intact. Very good. Item #009422

The dancer-in-drag is not intended to convey any hidden meaning. Female cakewalk performers did not become common until the 1890s. Before that, men dressed in drag to portray women.

McLoughlin apparently sold four different two-puzzle sets in this series. The other three box tops show 1) a pair of cakewalk dancers, 2) a man smoking a cigar, and 3) a performer ringing a bell. All four are exceptionally scarce and very hard to find in serviceable original boxes with all of their pieces.

These jigsaw puzzle sets have been characterized in various blogs and articles as "blatantly sadistic," "threateningly violent," and "the earliest and most racist" children's toys published in the United States. Are they "Racist"? Absolutely. Are they "sadistic" and "threateningly violent"? Absolutely not. The title-phrase "Chopped Up" simply means that they are jigsaw or "dissection" puzzles; Another McLoughlin puzzle set published at the same time as these was titled Chopped Up Animals. (See Cross's Kids' Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood for more information.)

At the time of listing, 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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