Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'hobos'

The Hieroglyphics of Vagabonds

February 12th, 2013 · No Comments

Last summer we marveled at the complexity of hobo pictographs, which we took to be a uniquely American phenomenon. But as this 1872 dictionary of slang from London makes clear, the tradition of wordless transient communication traces back to the Old World. In decidedly non-PC language, the author argues that this code was created by […]

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Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

June 21st, 2012 · 4 Comments

The great industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss is the man most responsible for preserving the art of hobo signs, which he chronicled in his 1972 masterwork Symbol Sourcebook. A good three decades after the end of the Great Depression, Dreyfuss tracked down the backstories for 60 of these signs, which hobos used to tip off their […]

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The Criteria of Clowndom

November 12th, 2009 · 4 Comments

In response to our tongue-in-cheek allusion to the Shriners in this post, a treasured reader noted that his uncle was a “Shriner clown.” At first we took this to be some sort of jest, but The Tubes quickly proved us wrong: the fez-wearing brotherhood is darn serious about its clowning. In fact, the organization hosts […]

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