[Ads-l] Antedating of "con artist"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 8 19:54:59 UTC 2016

"Confidence artist" can be found in the same newspaper, several months earlier:

"Some Armory prisoners: James Conden, better known to the fancy as "the white-haired kid," aged 25, and a notorious confidence artist and thief."

The Inter-Ocean (Chicago), January 26, 1878, page 8.

> Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2016 22:26:35 +0000
> Subject: Re: Antedating of "con artist"
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Antedating of "con artist"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>Newspapers.com can push this back to 1878 in a summary of court dispositions that unfortunately does not spell out what the con was.  The (Chicago) Daily Inter-Ocean, Mar. 28, 1878, p. 8:  "Before Justice Summerfield yesterday: . . .Mollie Atchison for disorderly conduct and interfering with an officer as he was arresting a prisoner, was fined $50. James Williams, pickpocket on the street cars, $100. John Harvey, alias William Williams, great "con" artist, $100."

John Baker
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list