A Jester Gestures

Additional Images
Sub Categories
Image Description

Color image of a jester wearing a red cap and a blue cape gesturing to an ornate building behind him; fireworks are shooting off above the building

Back Paper / Back Info

[union bug] Buttons made by The Whitehead & Hoag Co. Newark, N.J. U.S.A. Pat. April 16, 1896, July 21 1896.

Back Style
The Shape
The Size
The Manufacturer
Additional Information

The figure in the foreground is dressed as a “court jester,” a staple employee in medieval royal courts. The traditional costume of a jester included a pointed hat, or one with animal ears, adorned with bells. Sporting a silly grin, the jester would be a master of wit, and the only person in a court who could criticize and mock the aristocracy without penalization. The jester’s position within the court would give them close access to the king and other high ranking members.

In the picture, the jester is pointing to the building behind him by using just his thumb. This sort of behavior is a “gesture,” a movement of the body to convey an idea. Another example of a gesture is waving a hand at someone as a nonvocal means of saying hello. Many societies have hand gestures which can be read as an insult to the receiver. To give a “thumbs up” is a sign of approval, while the “thumbs down” demonstrates rejection or disapproval. This thumb gesture can be traced back to Ancient Rome, and has been carried through to the 21st century by being translated into emoji.

So the art on the button demonstrates a clever play on words: a jester gestures.


The World of Jesters. (n.d.). Jester Planet. Retrieved April 6, 2024 from https://www.jesterplanet.com

Catalog ID AR0494