[Ads-l] Antedating of "Phoney"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 5 08:06:03 UTC 2019

Peter Reitan wrote:
> "Phoney ring," 1889, consistent with etymology from "fawney ring,"
> a gilt, brass ring used in a con in which someone pretends to find
> a valuable ring,  and sells it at a seemingly good price to a duped
> witness.
> From the Wilmington (Delaware) Morning News. September 5, 1889, page 3.
> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/34550951/the_morning_news/
> "Sergeant Blackburn had a lively chase after a 'phoney ring' fakir,
> who was trying to work people at the Market street station of the
> Baltimore and Ohio railroad, shortly after 6 o'clock last evening."

Excellent find, Peter. Here is another example of phony jewelry in a
slightly earlier citation in 1888. The article eventually indicates
that the phony jewelry corresponds to rings.

Date: August 25, 1888
Newspaper: The Cincinnati Enquirer
Newspaper Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Article: Played His Last Card: Sudden Death at a Faro-Table
Quote Page 1, Column 4
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt - double-check for errors]
When arrested he was drunk and had $320 in his clothes, although the
suit he wore was not worth seventy-five cents. He was known to the
police as a circus and fair worker, and was an all-round "sure-thing"
man, a shell-worker, dealer in "phony" jewelry, &c. His visit to this
city was to work the last-named racket, about two hundred snide rings
of all kinds being found in his kit.
[End excerpt]


> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of W Brewer <brewerwa at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Sunday, August 4, 2019 7:04:38 PM
> Subject: Re: Antedating of "Phoney"
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       W Brewer <brewerwa at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Antedating of "Phoney"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> FS:  << "This gang has succeeded in floating in the Twin Cities an immense
> amount of the finest work of "phoney" plates and molds ever seen by the
> officials." >>
> GT:  << Plates for counterfeiting currency and molds for coins, I think. >>
> WB:  Well, I'm sure it was a cabal of renegade dentists peddling
> black-market dentures & tooth molds.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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