Monday, June 11, 2012

Pages from the past

THE CHARTIST movement was the first mass movement driven by the working class. It grew following the failure of the 1832 Reform Act to extend the vote beyond those owning property. In 1838 a People's Charter was drawn up for the London Working Men's Association (LWMA). The Charter had six demands: universal male suffrage, elections by secret ballot, abolition of property qualifications for MPs, payment of MPs, equal electoral constituencies and annual parliaments.
            Millions signed Chartist petitions which were repeatedly rejected by Parliament. Chartist leaders were arrested, jailed or transported to Australia and the movement eventually was wound down in 1858. But the demand for reform continued and by 1918 every one of the Chartist demands apart from annual parliaments had been achieved.
Past Pixels was set up in 2009 to make images of working class struggle more widely available to a newer generation and over the years it has carved a niche for itself with a series of greeting cards dedicated to the working class movement
William Cuffay

            A new set of cards of images of leading Chartists, taken from original photographs, engravings and lithographs, has now been produced to commemorate their struggle for social justice.
            Dorothy Thompson, the immensely influential Chartist historian, helped Past Pixels select the images for reproduction. She identified Feargus O’Connor, William Cuffay, James “Bronterre” O’Brien and John Frost as her favourite five Chartists. Sadly she died in early 2011 and this set is published in her memory.
There’s a short commentary about the image of the back of each card and Past Pixel cards can be ordered online at or from an increasing number of retail outlets. Further information about all the cards can also be obtained  by writing directly to: Past Pixels, PO Box 798, Worcester, WR4 4BW

photo: William Cuffay after William Paul Dowling,Lithograph, 1848 NPG D13148 copyright National Portrait Gallery.