More RE: Further Antedating of "Real McCoy"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 2 13:29:11 UTC 2010

Here is the record from the National Library of Scotland catalogue:

Title:   A new song call’d The real McCoy.

Date(s):        [ca. 1870?]
Publisher:      [Dublin] : P. Brereton Printer 1, Lr. Exchange St,
Format:         Book
Size etc:       1 sheet ([1] p.) : ill. ; 29 x 11 cm.
Note:   Dated from examination of text and style.
        First line reads: You lads and lasses draw near I’m going to sing a song.
        In one column with an illustration above the title.

Subject:        Ballads, English --Texts.
        Broadsides --Ireland --Dublin --1801-1900.
        Ballads --Ireland --Dublin --1801-1900.

Consult in:     Rare Books & Music Reading Room (stored in George IV Bridge)
Shelfmark:      Crawford.EB.3680
Number of items:        1
Status:         Available

I guess, since the 1879 citation I found refers to a song called "The Real McCoy," it is reasonable to regard such a song, dated a1879, as the earliest known usage.  Whether the song referenced in 1879 is the same as the song described above is purely conjectural.

In any case, I neglected in my original posting to note the obvious fact that the 1879 discovery strengthens the already-overpowering case against the popular theories that "real McCoy" derives from Kid McCoy, the Hatfields and the McCoys, a rumrunner named McCoy, Elijah McCoy, etc., etc.  It is likely that "real McCoy" is a variant of "real Mackay," documented in Scotland from 1856.

Fred Shapiro
Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press)

The American Dialect Society -

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