"Whole Ball of Wax" (1892)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sun Dec 19 01:44:27 UTC 2004

On Fri, 17 Dec 2004 11:01:51 -0500, George Thompson
<george.thompson at NYU.EDU> wrote:

>Barry offers:
>>     20 September 1892, GETTYSBURG COMPILER (Gettysburg, PA), pg.
>> 1, col. 8:
>>   "That's what!" exclaimed the youth, heartily.  "She's the best
>> gal in our
>> country, and I've had the pick an' choice of all of 'em.  There
>> isn't one of
>> 'em that wouldn't marry me quicker her wink, but this is my choice
>> of the whole
>> ball of wax."

Just to clarify... Doug Wilson found a cite for "whole ball of wax" from
the 1882 Atlanta Constitution last year, which is now in the OED3 draft

   1882 Atlanta Constit. 25 Apr. 4/4 We notice that John Sherman & Co.
   have opened a real estate office in Washington. Believing in his
   heart of hearts that he owns this country, we wil[l] be greatly
   surprised if Mr. Sherman does not attempt to sell out the whole
   ball of wax under the hammer.

And here is another 1882 cite I found on Newspaperarchive:

   Indiana (Pennsylvania) Democrat, Aug 10, 1882, p. 2, col. 1
   The Philadelphia Press, which started out for the Independent ticket,
   is now hedging negotiations going on to sell the concern to Don
   Cameron. It is about time that some more of the so-called Independent
   papers get their cash out of the Camerons. It matters not, for the
   Democrats can beat the "whole ball of wax" this season.

--Ben Zimmer

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