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Chicago Tribune, Illinois, March 6, 1927

Sara Teasdale in the Austin American-Statesman, Texas, August 24, 1924

New-York Tribune, New York, November 25, 1920

Chicago Tribune, Illinois, February 13, 1927

The Fairmont West Virginian, West Virginia, February 2, 1917

Ask

is that last comic you posted about a suicide note? I’m confused

One of the rituals from Victorian era’s cult of mourning: if a close loved one died, you’d order yourself some black bordered calling cards, note paper and envelopes. Your border’s width would be determined by how close you were to the deceased, how long you’d been in mourning, and how ostentatious you wanted to be.

Even newspapers followed this etiquette:

Vancouver Daily World, British Columbia, January 22, 1901:

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The Guthrie Daily Leader, Oklahoma, September 14, 1901:

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Anyway, to answer your question, I doubt it. Unless the guy’s brother was a big stickler for etiquette, pretty full of himself, or had a dark sense of humor, I don’t think you’d mail your own suicide note in a mourning envelope. And in that case it wouldn’t be a very funny comic.

(As an aside, in some places you couldn’t actually mail letters with full mourning borders. They were said to be easier to tamper with; edges could be cut and then coloured with dark ink, so ones that were tinted rather than full-black were also sold).

I’m pretty sure the joke is just that the guy isn’t very smart, and thinks the black border + the brother’s handwriting means his brother must be dead. Really his brother is just in mourning for someone else.

Pansy Montague

Pansy Montague (‘La Milo’), 1913

Performing as La Milo, Pansy skirted the censors by staying still while posing nude. As long as she didn’t move, it was considered art, like a statue. The same tactic was used later at the Windmill Theatre.

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