The Museum of UnCut Funk has a warm spot in our hearts for Vintage Black Advertising Memorabilia and we now have a few HAMBONE pieces as a part of our collection. Whether it be crate labels, tins or posters we collect it all for the both the historical and artistic value of the items.

Hambone CollectibleWe feel it is important to understand the racist and stereotypical way that Blacks have been portrayed in product advertising throughout history. HAMBONE is one of the many caricatures that personifies racists advertising from the last century.

Hambone was the nickname of Tom Hunley, a folk-wisdom spouting ex-slave who lived in Greenwood Mississippi. Hunley was interviewed late in his life by a young Memphis editorial cartoonist James Pinckney Alley “J.P.”

Alley who was taken by Hunley’s humorously philosophical tone, and turned the old man’s pithy observations on life into a syndicated illustrated column called “Hambone’s Meditations” which debuted in 1916 and was soon followed by two books. When J.P. died in 1934, his son Calvin took over his work, and the Hambone character continued in newspapers until 1968.


Starting in the late 1920’s, two different cigar companies (over time, not at once) were licensed to market cheap cigars under the character’s name and Alley’s illustration. The image on the cigar box label is a satire on Lindberg’s 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic ocean.

Hambone strip


Source: Cigar


  • Walt D.
    March 3, 2010

    I have a 1917 printing of “Hambone’s Meditation’s” that I’m looking to sell. It’s a paperback, and the cover is worn (particularly on the rear). However, the pages are in quite good condition, apart from some dog-earing.

  • Bill
    May 10, 2011

    I’m interested in the 1917 edition of Hambone’s Meditations

  • January 22, 2012

    JP Alley was my great uncle. I keep a clipping of his work on my Art board for inspiration. My daddy is the last of the ancient Alley Men. I believe JP jr passed and has a son that is a writer.
    Alley won a Pullitizer for the Mediations for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

    Mine is great it says: Dont Try run down a lie…. Soon enough hitlll creep back to see how thins is gitten er long.

    I love this website by the way. Pam

  • jon Byrnes
    November 23, 2019

    I have a hambone cigar box in museum quality shape, can some one tell me what it worth ???

  • Andy Umbo
    April 28, 2022

    Ran across this site, had to laugh, JR Cigars has been selling a reintroduce Hambone cigar, without the bad sterotype illustration.

  • Minor
    November 25, 2022

    I have the book (Hambone Says) by J. P. Alley. It is a signed copy by his daughter Elizabeth Alley Ahlgren. I can’t find it anywhere on the internet. Does anyone know anything about it?

Add Your Comment

Related Posts