Idiom: gnomes of Zurich: little gnomes sitting over ticker tapes in Zurich (antedating 1956 March 7)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 29 03:59:54 UTC 2010

Wonderful! Many thanks to George Thompson for searching for this
saying and surmounting the balky ProQuest system to find an excellent

On Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 2:17 PM, George Thompson
<george.thompson at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Idiom: gnomes of Zurich: little gnomes sitting over ticker
>              tapes in Zurich (antedating 1956 March 7)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Teh word "gnome" in itself was surprisingly popular among the writers for the Guardian, but Proquest can find it only twice connected with Zurich.
> Glorious reawakening or a slow death for the DEA?
> WILLIAM DAVIS Financial Editor. The Guardian (1959-2003). London (UK): Aug 30, 1967. p. 8 (1 page)
> Diary
> Matthew Norman. The Guardian (1959-2003). London (UK): Jul 11, 1995. p. 15
> On the other hand, "gnome", limited to 1955-1957 turns up 22 matches, most of which seem unlikely.  (REFUSED PERMISSION TO MARRY MIDGET; Girl "Will Wait" The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959). Manchester (UK): Sep 21, 1955)
> However:
> "It included all those clever little financial gnomes, sitting by their tape-machines in Zurich and Paris and Amsterdam and New York."
> The Demise of Mr. Butskell.  Our Political Correspondent. The Observer (1791- 2003). Oct 30, 1955. p. 9
> "gnome and (finance or financial or banker)" actually turns up 700 matches from before 1955, the earliest from 1841.  However, if I try to move to the second page of results, or the last, Proquest shuts down.  "I've done enough, go away".  Useless system.  Buggy enough to have been created by Microsoft.  Jesus.
> Outwitting the god-damned system by working backwards, I find that there was a French manufacturing company called Gnome et Rhone, and Harold Nicholson used the expression "gnomes and maxims".  I got back to 1935.  Others can check 1841-1934.  As Proquest says, "I've done enough, go away".
> George A. Thompson
> Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
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