The "puss and mew", 1738 -- not in OED

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Apr 9 03:28:49 UTC 2010

Should the OED have an entry for "puss and mew"?  An apparatus
invented in 1737 or 1738 to evade the British Gin Act of 1737.

 From The Gentleman's Magazine, Feb.1738, p. 106. col. 2.

The Dealers in Spiritous Liquors have found a Way to defeat
Informations, viz. The Buyer comes into the Entry of the House, and
cries _Puss_, to which a Voice from within answers _Mew_: A Drawer is
then thrust out, into which the Buyer puts his Money; the Drawer
being pull'd in, is soon after thrust out again, with the Quantity of
Gin required.

Additional instances should be in:

1)  Read's Weekly Journal, 1738 Feb 18.
2)  Public Record Office, PC 1/15/5, part 1, 1738.
3)  The Daily Gazetteer, 1738 Apr. 22, p. 2.
See Jessica Warner, _Craze_: Gin and Debauchery in an Age of Reason_
(Random House Trade Paperback 2003), p. 43 and note p. 233; pp. 50-51
and note p. 235.

Google Books doesn't seem to have any other instances until the 1820s
and later, but I'll bet there are some in the London newspapers of 1738.


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