Coloured cartoon from the Northern Looking Glass 18 August 1825, the second in the series "Essay on Modern Medical Education". Entitled "The Dead Association" it depicts two disreputable-looking characters standing over bodies strewn on the floor and over chairs. One of the rogues has his hand in a box marked with a skull and crossbones.
The cartoon may be referring to funeral clubs. Men joined these friendly societies to contribute to a common fund that would meet the expense of their burials, in an age where there was a morbid fear of dying penniless and being consigned to a pauper's grave. Like many mutual societies of the day they were often an excuse for socialising and for heavy drinking. The cartoonist may be making a wry comment in depicting the members lying drunk while the funeral funds are pilfered.
Reference: Sp Coll Bh14-x.8
Glasgow University Library, Special Collections
burial societies, drinking, friendly societies, Glasgow Looking Glass, lithographs, mutual societies, Northern Looking Glass, skulls and crossbones, smoking, theft, thieves