For March’s Image of the Month we mark both the 25th anniversary of the merger of the SDP with the Liberal Party and also this month’s Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race, all in one political cartoon from a long-forgotten election fought in Newcastle by the Liberals in 1880.

The trouble with political cartoons as a historical source is that they do date very quickly, and what was (probably) biting satire 130 years ago, is now sadly obscure. This image comes from an album of cartoons featuring the Liberal MP and newspaper owner Ashton Dilke. His papers are held at the Archives Centre as part of a family collection, the Dilke-Crawford-Roskill Papers, chiefly notable for its material on the notorious Crawford divorce case, which featured two sensational law suits involving Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke, MP (1843-1911) and Mrs Virginia Mary Crawford (1863-1948) the wife of Donald Crawford, MP.

Cartoon from the Newcastle election, 1880. Dilke-Crawford-Roskill Papers, REND 11/5