Lead Pipe(1890); Clover Club cocktail (1911); Pegu Club Cocktail(1934); OED days

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Jun 13 19:12:22 UTC 2004

OLSON--Sorry for the spelling of OLSON and OLSEN in a prior post.  It's OLSON 
for both title and author.
   Here's the article:
[Q] From Irving S Schloss: “What is the origin of lead-pipe cinch, which, in 
American slang, means a dead certainty?”
[A] Nobody seems quite sure. We’ve a lot of information about its early days 
but it doesn’t quite add up to a complete story. Facts first, then the 
speculation.The figurative sense of cinch is recorded from the 1880s on. This came 
from the saddle-girth meaning of the word, which itself had been borrowed from 
Spanish cincha in the 1860s. A saddle that had been tightly cinched was secure, 
so something that was a cinch was a safe or sure thing, an idea which 
developed into the slang sense of something that was a certainty.
Lead-pipe cinch suddenly appears in the early 1890s, only a few years after 
that sense of cinch had been created. The first mention I can find is in a 
parody of Sandford Bennett’s hymn In The Sweet By and By that appeared in the 
Chicago Tribune late in 1891: “Oh, the place will be delightful, and it’s worth 
our while to try / To get a lead pipe cinch upon the sweet by and by.”
It’s obvious enough that a lead-pipe cinch is one up on the common or garden 
variety of cinch, so that lead-pipe here is what grammarians call an 
intensifier. But why should it be so? This is where we part company with the facts and 
go drifting off on the wayward currents of surmise and supposition. Robert 
Chapman’s Dictionary of American Slang suggested it is because a lead pipe is 
easily bent, “in case one has bet on such a feat”. Eric Partridge thought it 
came about through the effectiveness of a length of lead pipe as a weapon. 
Jonathon Green argues it is the solidity of the lead pipe that is most important.
Unlike many modern urban folk, in the 1890s everyone who used the phrase knew 
exactly what a cinch was in its literal sense. So lead-pipe cinch had to 
resonate somehow with that. Jonathon Lighter, in the Random House Historical 
Dictionary of American Slang, points out that there was a brief flowering of 
another sense, that of having an especially firm grip on something. The idea was 
presumably that if a leather cinch was effective, one made of lead would be even 
more so, or that one’s grip on lead pipe could be firmer than on a leather 
Following the first appearance of this piece in the newsletter, several 
subscribers suggested that the piece of lead pipe might have been used to tighten a 
strap. Larry Krakauer described it like this: “We ‘cinch’, or ‘cinch up’, 
anything that is held tightly by a strap or rope. If you want to cinch 
something really tightly, you put something like a stick, or perhaps a piece of pipe, 
through the rope loop that goes around the object to be held, and you twist 
it. The length of pipe twisting the rope gives you enormous leverage. Lead pipe 
was a suitable size and was likely to be available.” This sounds possible, 
though essential evidence is lacking.
Many others sought an origin in the plumbing trade, on the basis that there 
might have been some device that held, or cinched, pieces of pipe together. It 
might have been a version of a device sometimes known as a strap wrench, which 
is used when the jaws of a standard monkey wrench would damage the item being 
worked on. It’s a plausible-sounding origin, but I’ve found nothing to 
suggest a link between the expression and the plumbing business.
Either way, this is the nearest we can get to understanding the thought 
processes of 1890s Americans. 

   I googled further and found that an earlier citation seems to have been 
found by someone named Barry Popik:
Issue of November 27, 2001
... A few years ago etymologist Barry Popik uncovered the earliest use in 
print of
"lead-pipe cinch" yet found (in an 1890 issue of The Sporting News) in an ... 

www.word-detective.com/112701.html - 44k - Cached - Similar pages 
   THE SPORTING NEWS of that period is in terrible shape, and I spent many 
hours squinting my eyes going through years of it.  I couldn't find it again on 
www.paperofrecord.com, but I guarantee you that it's there.
   I'd copied it for Gerald Cohen many years ago.  I also posted it, if I 
recall correctly, on the old ADS-L archives (which are no longer available).
   The June OED NEWS is out and features a day in the life of the OED.  One 
editor is looking at Newspaperarchive.  Another editor is looking at ECCO 
(Eighteenth Century Collections Online).  
   Sarah Oglivie, a senior assistant editor, is looking at Murray's slips for 
the words _oopack_, _ketchup_, _cha_, and _chopstick_.  About ketchup...
   Another 1911 citation, from my files.
edited by Geo. R. Washburne and Stanley Bronner
Published by The Wine and Spirit Bulletin
(No page numbers--ed.)
As served at Hotel Belvedere, Baltimore, Maryland
Juice of lime.
Few dashes of Grenadine Syrup.
One-sixth Italian Vermouth.
One-sixth French Vermouth.
Two-thirds gin.
Add white of an egg.  Frappe well.
Dress with three mint leaves on edge of glass.
Serve in claret glass.
In season use raspberries instead of Grenadine.  Macerate the raspberries 
with muddler.
As served at The Waldorf-Astoria, New York, N. Y.
Juice of half lemon.
White of an egg.
Half teaswpoonful powderedsugar.
One drink of Plymouth Gin.
One pony Raspberry Syrup.
Frappe thoroughly and serve in claret glass with a sprig of mint on top.
   I couldn't beat 1930 in the SAVOY CLUB COCKTAIL BOOK, but the following 
book is always a useful place to start for cocktails of this period.  It appears 
from "OED DAYS" that OED is doing the letter "P."
   I must add that I've never been to Burma (I don't want to travel half way 
around the world to throw my support to a brutal military dictatorship), but 
I'm willing to investigate further if OED pays the expenses.
by R. de Fleury
London: William Heinemann Ltd.
Pg. 108:
   No. 840
1 Teaspoon Lime Juice
1/3 Pollen's Curacao
2/3 Coates' Plymouth Gin
1 Dash Orange Bitters
1 Dash Angostura Bitters

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