catchphrases not in Whiting, part 4

Mon Nov 1 22:58:39 UTC 1999

James Smith observed:
"Granted these examples are out of context, but from
them I deduce that a "leather medal" is a whipping or
strapping.  What would a "putty medal" be?"

Actually, this interpretation is so obvious that it hadn't ever
occurred to me.  I had been supposing a leather medal was a medal
made of leather, as opposed to gold or silver.  A putty medal would
be even less of a distinction than a leather one.  But "leather
medal" as "dose of strapponia" (a phrase from another old newspaper)
would certainly be applicable to the 1826 passage, since the
editorialist was rather outraged.  "A medal made of a substance of
little value" would be more appropriate for 1822 and 1843, perhaps,
since those writers were merely deploring incompetence or stupidity.

Thanks for the thought.


1822:   He ought to have a "leather medal" for his
        XYZ.  A Knickerbocker Tour of New York State,
1822.  Louis Leonard Tucker, ed.  Albany: Univ. of the State of New
York, The State Education Dept., New York State Library, 1968,
p. 39

1826:   [a man executes his horse, ceremoniously].
For this gallant act of bravery, it is recommended that the
ladies and gentlemen of the place should present him with a
leather medal.
        The Long-Island Star, February 9, 1826, p. 2,
col. 5

1843:   Reward of Merit. [for "some recent specimens
of American Sagacity and contrivance" during an election.]  1.  A
Leather Medal each — very thick and solid. . . . [to some voters].
A pair of horn goggles — regular dead-eyes -- [to other voters].
        New-York Daily Tribune, November 9, 1843, p. 2, col. 3

There are variants of this phrase.  I remember having
seen "putty medal" but can't document it.

RHHDAS: 1831, citing OED; not in Whiting, EAPPP; nor
Taylor & Whiting; DAE: 1837; OED: 1831


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