tag sale

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Tue Dec 14 04:01:59 UTC 2004

On Mon, 13 Dec 2004 16:41:23 -0600, Mullins, Bill

<Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL> wrote:
>tag sale -- not in OED?
>>From _The Tiger Claw_, yearbook of the class of 1929, The University High
>School, Columbia MO, p. 30
>"After holding a tag sale we were able to contribute seven dollars to the
>athletic fund."

This fundraising type of "tag sale" is older than the expression's current
sense (roughly equivalent to "garage sale" or "yard sale").  OED does have
"tag day" and "flag day", other names for this sort of fundraising effort:

     tag day N. Amer. = flag-day (b)
     1908 Times 26 Dec. 10/2 A new system of street collecting
     for public charities by means of tags or labels,..tried at
     San Francisco recently on behalf of the Children's Hospital
     ... The advent of 'tag day' is well advertised.

     flag-day, (b) a day on which money is raised for a cause by
     the sale of small paper flags or other tokens which are
     worn as evidence that the wearer has contributed

Newspaperarchive dates "tag day" back to around 1903.  "Tag day" begins
alternating with "tag sale" around 1910:

     Laurel (Mississippi) Chronicle, February 11, 1910, p. 1 [?]
     (heading) Hospital Tag Day in Laurel ... Proceeds of Tag
     Sale to Buy Instruments for the Surgical Department.
     Wednesday, February 26, will be Tag Day, the money
     collected thereon to buy instruments, etc., for the
     operating department of Jessie Gates Hospital.
     To make the event of interest to the children engaged in
     tagging, five cash prizes are offered, viz: $5.00, $4, $3,
     $2 and $1, to those collecting the five highest amounts,
     respectively. Tags will be supplied at the drug stores.

     Los Angeles Times, May 5, 1911, p. II1
     (heading) For Humanity in Distress.
     Associated Charities Will Raise Tag Sale.

     Newark (Ohio) Advocate, June 9, 1913, p. 6
     With a total of $85 realized from the sale of tags for
     "Horse Tag Day" and a record of $20.20 as the highest amount
     turned in for the sale of tags, the officals of the Licking
     County Humane Society feel that the first event of its
     chapter in this part of the state was fairly successful....
     The boys and girls who took part in tag sale are as follows.

I haven't checked to see when the garage/yard-sale sense of "tag sale"
developed, but MWCD11 says 1955.

-- Ben Zimmer

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