"Corpse corn"; and a Wall Street saying?

Tue Nov 28 15:55:37 UTC 2000

        Reading "Bet-A-Million Gates: The Story of a Plunger", by robert
Irving Warshow, N. Y.: Greenburg, 1932, I find the following:

        [Referring to an attempt by Gates to corner the market in corn; he
began buying at 60 cents a bushel, and drove the price up to 90
cents, then, for prudent reasons, offered to sell out at 80 cents.]
About 20,000,000 bushels were settled for at 80 cents the bushel, and
the price . . . immediately tumbled to 65 cents, leaving Gates with
about 5,000,000 bushels to be disposed of at lower prices.  The
average prices paid by Gates were about 70 cents a bushel, so that on
the "corpse corn" left with him, he actually took a loss.  On the
entire transaction, however, his syndicate netted a profit of over
$2,000,000.  (p. 117)  [I don't find "corpse corn" in OED, or in
Dictionary of Americanisms]

        [Later, the author, having described Gates as a "trader", goes into
a rhapsody about traders:]  The old-clothes man is in a sense a good
trader if he can persuade you to part with the suit you need.  But
his imagination is limited to your back doorstep.  The successful
small dealer is a trader.  "It looks like snow, boys," said the
Finns, for they had snowshoes to sell.  [This last sentence sounds
like a proverbial way of saying that a salesman must start by
creating the market for what he's selling.  I haven't checked proverb
compilations.  Barry was collecting Wall Street saying, before he got
into food and drink.  Does he know it?]


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