The Old Print Shop

What You Wish Us is One Thing ; What You Will Give Us Is Another.

  • ARTIST: Thomas Nast

  • PUBLISHER: Published by Harper's Weekly. January 2, 1886.

  • MEDIUM: Wood engraving,

    DATE: 1886.

  • EDITION SIZE: Image size 10 1/2 x 9 1/4" (26.6 x 23.6 cm).

  • DESCRIPTION: Additional text reads, "Mother Earth. 'Well, what have you in store for my children this year?'" <br><br> Gaia sits in an earthen chair, surrounded by her children - a Native American, African, Asian and European. Before them is the ageless, winged messenger of time. In his hand is a paper reading, "I wish you all a Happy New Year." He also holds a book entitled "1886" to depict the coming year, while the old book of "1885" is forgotten behind Gaia's chair. A scythe and hourglass also rest in his arms, representing agriculture and time. In the distance is a pristine landscape, unmolested by the hands of man. Beneath the chair are the skins of a lion and a tiger, perhaps a reference to the taming of Britain, and American politics (Nast has used the tiger to represent the Democratic party in the past). <br><br> One can assume the artist made this cartoon to reflect on the irony of the typical New Year's Greeting. Everyone always wishes the world and it's people a "Happy New Year," and perhaps dream of a world like the one illustrated, but what they give is conflict and strife; a world where Gaia's children can never truly be at ease. Even in this cartoon two of the children hold weapons - a sword and a bow - and the messenger's scythe could be viewed as a symbol of death.


  • CONDITION: Good condition.