Two of the Killers


This lithograph from 1848 shows two outlandishly dressed members of the Philadelphia gang known as the “Killers.” One man sits on a fire hydrant and the other leans against a lamp pole (posted with a “Sale” notice) on a street tenanted by a grocery and adorned with broadsides. The men wear patterned pants, jackets with tails, oversized neck ties, and top hats. One also wears a pin reading “K.” They each have their hands in their pockets and are smoking cigarettes. The grocery displays a barrel of brooms in addition to signs reading “Coffee Sugar Tea” and “Teas Coffee 5.” A broadside on the opposite building reads, “Auction this Evening.” A playbill, illustrated with a scene of an equestrian trick, advertises, “Circus: The Old Man of the Mountain . . . Dan Rice, Clown.” The Killers, organized circa 1846, were a band of young men who menaced the Moyamensing neighborhood and were associated with the Moyamensing Hose Company and the Democratic Keystone Club. This print was produced by John J. Childs (circa 1819–80), an artist and lithographer who was a prolific publisher of lithographic cartoons, genre scenes, and social satires in the mid-19th century. Born in England, Childs resided in New York and Boston before relocating to Philadelphia in 1847. From 1848 to 1852 he worked from the lithographic establishment of Frederick Kuhl (born circa 1812). By 1855, Childs had established his own firm, where he produced predominately cartoon prints.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

J. Childs, Philadelphia


Title in Original Language

Two of the killers

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 print : lithograph ; 25 x 21 centimeters


  • Digital catalog number: POS 761

Last updated: December 29, 2015