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.
We 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.
Source: Cigar History.info