[Ads-l] confidence man (1847), con game/trick/artist (1878) (UNCLASSIFIED)

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sat Sep 29 11:35:26 EDT 2018


For some very good reason, my email system has started putting any text I
enter through cut-and-paste into italics.]

A chap named Johannes D. Bergmann wrote a dissertation at UConn on *The
Original Confidence Man*, in 1968; he then summarized his findings in
the *American
Quarterly*, 21 (Fall, 1969):560-77

The article is [not] attached, but it's available in JStor.  [An earlier
message was rejected because of the attachment.]

My own notes start with excepts from a newspaper probably never to be
digitized; unfortunately, the words "confidence trick" are in my summary,
and not as a direct quote.  If they had appeared in the story, I probably
would have put them into "".   Otherwise, my references come from the
Herald, which was also a source cited by D. Bergmann.

            The Knowing Ones "Done."[1: "a funnily dressed individual",
wearing "an old tarpaulin" approaches a man who is wearing "a bran new
Costar", offers to swap hats; the mark, supposing that it's a joke, takes
the tarpaulin, gives his Costar; the fellow runs away with it; 2: a man
claiming to be "the son of the late Nicholas Biddle" pulls the confidence
trick on the proprietor of "one of the best hotels in the Bowery", getting
money and a gold watch]
            N-Y D Globe, May 29, 1847, p. 2, col. 4

            *Arrest of the Confidence Man*.  [William Thompson; had taken a
gold watch from Thomas McDonald, 276 Madison street, on May 12; yesterday,
McDonald saw him on the street, had him arrested]  It will be well for all
those persons who have been defrauded by the "Confidence Man" to call at
the police court, Tombs, and take a view of him.

            NY Herald, July 8, 1849, p. 2, col. 3; NY Herald, July 9, 1849,
p. 2, col. 4;

[Samuel Williams, the confidence man, identified by John Deraismes, 170
Duane, an incident of March 1; by John J. Sturges, 27 South street,
incident of March 15; Hugh McDonald, 231 South street, incident of May 21]
NY Herald, July 10, 1849, p. 1, col. 5; [an editorial, comparing him
unfavorably with railroad speculators: he's just a small time swindler]  NY
Herald, July 11, 1849, p. 2, cols. 1-2.

            *Incident of the "Confidence Man*."
            NY Herald, July 14, 1849, p. 1, cols. 5-6

GAT

On Fri, Sep 28, 2018 at 12:10 PM, MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY
RDECOM AMRDEC (US) <william.d.mullins18.civ at mail.mil> wrote:

> CLASSIFICATION: UNCLASSIFIED
>
> >
> > ----
> >
> > In my latest piece for The Atlantic, I look at "con(fidence)"
> expressions favored by Trump:
> >
> > https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/donald-
> trump-and-the-art-of-the-con/571528/
> >
> > Some antedatings from my research...
> >
> > * confidence man (OED2 1849)
> >
> > [ New York Daily Herald, May 30, 1847, p. 2, col. 3 Our sharpest
> business men have placed "confidence" in him, and for their reward have
> > been swindled in sums varying from five to one hundred dollars.
> > https://www.newspapers.com/clip/24082310/confidence_man/ ]
> >
> > New York Daily Herald, June 5, 1847, p. 2, col. 3 In all probability
> this is the man, from the description, who has "done"
> > the knowing ones around the city, commonly called the "confidence" man,
> of whom the Herald gave an account a few days ago.
> > https://www.newspapers.com/clip/24082361/confidence_man/
> >
> > * con game (OED2 1896)
> >
> > Chicago Tribune, Mar. 5, 1878, p. 8, col. 6 Justice Scully yesterday
> held the following... Mike Mullin, playing the "con." game upon Max
> > Polachek and several wholesale dry-goods houses, $100 fine.
> > https://www.newspapers.com/clip/24082577/con_game/
>
>
> Chicago Daily Inter Ocean, Mar 31, 1877 p 8 col 1 [Genealogybank]
> ""Tip" Farrell, the father of the "con" game, was arrested yesterday for
> complicity in the assault on Belt, the colored railroader, on the
> Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad."
>
>
> >
> > * con trick (not in OED)
> >
> > Chicago Tribune, Mar. 24, 1878, p. 8, col. 4 Thomas McDonald, alias
> Howard, a well known confidence-man, who is wanted on suspicion of
> > having taken several "con." tricks on the railroad.
> > Caution-https://www.newspapers.com/clip/24082583/con_trick/
> >
> > * con artist (OED3 1898)
> >
> > (Chicago) Daily Inter-Ocean, Mar. 28, 1878, p. 8, col. 1 Before Justice
> Summerfield yesterday... John Harvey, alias William Williams, great
> > "con" artist, $100.
> > https://www.newspapers.com/clip/24096016/con_artist/
> >
>
> Others:
>
>
> Confidence trick (OED has 1884)
> Richmond VA Enquirer Jan 4 1856 p 4 col 1 [Chronicling America]
> "We may add that some of our own citizens were sufferers by his confidence
> tricks, and it was, perhaps, well for him that he made a hasty departure
> from our midst."
>
> Washington DC Daily Union Jul 26, 1856 p 3 col 2 [Genealogybank]
> "Another Confidence Trick" [headline]
>
>
>
> Confidence game (OED has 1856) [Genealogybank]
> New York NY National Police Gazette Jul 28, 1849 p 2 col 2
> "He then commenced the "confidence game," practicing his chin upon small
> characters at the outset, but generally confining his operations to the
> safe deception of roguish pawnbrokers and petty "fencemen," who dared not
> to complain."
> CLASSIFICATION: UNCLASSIFIED
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



-- 
George A. Thompson
The Guy Who Still Looks Stuff Up in Books.
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998.

But when aroused at the Trump of Doom / Ye shall start, bold kings, from
your lowly tomb. . .
L. H. Sigourney, "Burial of Mazeen", Poems.  Boston, 1827, p. 112

The Trump of Doom -- also known as The Dunghill Toadstool.  (Here's a
picture of his great-grandfather.)
http://www.parliament.uk/worksofart/artwork/james-gillray/an-excrescence---a-fungus-alias-a-toadstool-upon-a-dunghill/3851

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


More information about the Ads-l mailing list