Hatemail is probably the most bizarre book to ever grace a coffee table. Oversized, gorgeous, and with vivid and full-color matte printing, it’s packed with turn-of-the-century art and extensive scholarly commentary…about anti-Semitic picture postcards.
There’s an 1899 German postcard that depicts a trio of “Glucksschwein,” Jews dressed up as pigs, which is a visual pun on the meaning of the word (it means “lucky charms” and “lucky pigs”). A 1907 cartoon touts the “competition of fierce animals, division of misers, first prize” to an effeminate-looking mouse that bears striking similarity to Art Spiegelman’s creation.
Some of these items you can easily picture people laughing at, like a novelty postcard in a downtown dollar-store today. Others, like a Jew using a machine to squeeze money out of gentiles, are more sinister. And some are out-and-out propaganda, like a 1910 nursery-rhyme—a long nursery rhyme—about a Jewish boy who begs his father for an umbrella, then is horrified that they must pay for it. As a historical document, Hatemail is rare, surreal and valuable.
But we’re still not sure we’d want it in our living rooms.
December 3, 2013