"Horribles" (and a 1792 instance)

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 26 21:58:59 UTC 2011

Well, there is this interesting piece in GB:

Title    Third annual parade of antique horribles, and jim jam
convulsionist. ...: Per order Gen, Dennis O. Seldomfed
Publisher    E.T. Whittier, printer, Stoneham., 1850
Length    1 pages

Of course, there is no entry in any library on WorldCat and GB has no
text available. But there is an alternative--it turns out to be a
broadsheet from the LoC collection.
> Performance includes: Squad of police, mounted on leveling machines,
> assisted by kack lasters, nail stickers, bottom artists and tie-uppers
> -- Gen. Dennis O. Seldomfed -- Brass band. Performers include: Gen
> Dennis O. Selfomfed; Prudence Ann Brown, Partick Shanshagnessy, N.G.;
> Henry W. Beecher; Vic Woodhull; Woman in white; Ned O'Baldwin; Mary's
> little lamb.

The year is actually unverified but it's sometime in the 1850s. Readex
does not appear to have it.

Another similar item appears here:

Title    Programme of the Antiques and Horribles!: For their sixth
annual parade, July 4th, 1859
Author    Franklin Office (Providence, R.I.)
Contributors    Robert A. Pierce, William H. Berry
Publisher    From Franklin Printing House, Providence, Pierce & Berry,
printers., 1859
Length    1 pages

The circumstances are very similar to the one above. So is the note:

> Printed in two columns divided by single line. Facetious program
> includes Delegation from the senior class from Brown University,
> completing the burial, or, The burial of Hoyle. Promises to include a
> sea serpent, the "King of the Feejee Islands," and a delegation from
> Mother Goose. N-YHS copy: fabric lining.

The difference is that it's listed as available at Brown and NY
Historical Society. Both are clearly intended as humor.

There are a number of references to "horribles" in the context of
processions and parades, some combining "Antiques and Horribles" or
"Antique Horribles".

1899: http://goo.gl/J5iGa
     Hawaii: "At 6 a. m. the "Antiques and Horribles" are out and it is
a grotesque and fantastic picture worth one's while. The ball is opened!"
1895: http://goo.gl/GX9u8
     1894 report from Hawaii
1891: http://goo.gl/70RUD
     History of July 4th celebrations in Grand Rapids, MI, where
"procession of antique horribles" is mentioned from 1860 forward (making
the dates of the two broadsides above highly plausible).
1884: http://goo.gl/gefWa
     [New Haven] Battalion of Antiques and Horribles
     First Co. Fantasticals, Antiques and Horribles, Capt. George K. Jewell.
         all alternating with Drum Corps and horn bands.
1880: http://goo.gl/oLW7K
     Somehow, this London publication picks it up as well--in John
Drew's Mule Story: "Father, the boys are going to celebrate Independence
to-morrow in the village, and there is going to be a procession of the
'Antiques and Horribles' in the morning--mayn't I go over early and see
the fun ?"
1877: http://goo.gl/u9yIs
     Antiques and Horribles with Chinese crackers!
1876: http://goo.gl/3u9lt
     Melrose, MA: "Following this came a procession of the Antiques and
Horribles, under the command of Chief Marshall Klaw-Hammer, ending with
an oration from the music-stand on School-house Green, on Emerson
Street, by Col. Much Chin."
1859: http://goo.gl/Puxbv
     Seems to be the same RI event referenced in the second broadsheet.
"The Antiques and Horribles were under the command of the gallant
Captain Lollypop..."

It certainly appears as if "Parade/procession of Antiques and Horribles"
originated some time in the 1850s, apparently in New England, as a comic
counterpoint to the 4th of July celebration. If there are earlier
references, I haven't found them in GB. Perhaps in EAN?

There is a one-off 1822 appearance where "horrible" is just one
adjective turned into noun, with the phrase repeated several times: "Not
seven Xs; but one X." (X= Insatiable, Inexorable, Hideous, Execrable,



On 1/26/2011 4:03 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> Fred, was the American Speech author any more
> specific about where his association with the
> Ancient and Honourable Company came from?
> EAN has "horribles" earliest in 1792 (perhaps a
> useful interdating between 1726 and 1851):  "List
> of Horribles" (article title).  Catskill [New
> York] Packet; Date: 09-03-1792; Volume: I; Issue:
> 5; Page: [3]. Of course the Ancient and
> Honourable antedates American newspapers.
> GBooks gives "parade of 'Horribles'" [note the
> interior quote marks] in Youth's Companion,
> allegedly 1885, Vol. 58 (snippet).  That is
> reasonably consistent (within one year?) with a
> first publication date of 1827.  That's the
> earliest I saw for this specific phrase.  "Of
> horribles" by itself seems to appear in 1878 and the 1880s.
> Joel
> At 1/26/2011 02:58 PM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
>> Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
>> Actually, JSTOR shows that John M. Maguire used
>> "parade of horribles" in the Yale Law Journal in
>> 1939 (it is disturbing that HeinOnline didn't
>> call up the 1939 usage).  More interestingly,
>> there was an article in American Speech in 1940
>> suggesting that the word "horribles" in "parade
>> of horribles" is a corruption of the word
>> "honorable" in the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston.
>> Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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