At first glance, this illustration looks like the depiction of a rather cool Victorian hangout. The image was commissioned in 1908 for a political magazine of the era, Puck, predicting a liberated woman of the future. Fashionably-dressed women are shown smoking cigars and ignoring children, drinking, gambling using stock tickers and generally hanging out like barflies. The title underneath reads: Why not go the limit? For the benefit of those ladies who ask for the right to smoke in public.
Between the 1890s and early 1900s, thousands of illustrations like this were produced and distributed around the United States and England, on postcards, in magazines and on public billboards. The message was that women’s rights were dangerous and letting women think for themselves could only end in a nightmarish society.
I went digging for more of these illustrations on the net and found a plethora of examples. Many of them are so detailed and well-drawn, you can imagine the kind of influence they must have had on young impressionable minds …
Images via Milindo Taid and The Appendix