[Ads-l] Saying: "I see, " said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 2 06:11:37 UTC 2019

Wilson Gray mentioned the phrase in the subject line in a separate
thread. Amy West and Jonathan Lighter commented. Here are three
citations discovered via a few queries restricted to Newspapers.com
(antedating should be possible).

A match for the first part of the saying appeared by 1842.

Date: October 15, 1842
Newspaper: The Daily Madisonian
Newspaper Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Article: New York Correspondence
Acknowledgement: From the N. Y. Standard
Quote Page 2, Column 3
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Let us see, said the blind man: let us see, for I fear some of us had
a mist before our eyes, a delusion or spell, which is about to be
[End excerpt]

A blind carpenter with a hammer and saw were mentioned by 1890.

Date: October 13, 1890
Newspaper: Morning Journal and Courier
Newspaper Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Article: Remarkable
Quote Page 1, Column 7
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Quite a remarkable thing happened to a blind carpenter the other
day—he took his hammer and saw. —Commercial Bulletin.
[End excerpt]

A wagon maker, blind carpenter, deaf sheep ranchman, noseless
fisherman, and others were mentioned in 1891.

Date: March 11, 1891
Newspaper: Daily Nebraska State Journal
Newspaper Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Article: Newspaper Drift
Quote Page 4, Column 3
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
Here is a remarkable case. The other day a wagon maker who had been
dumb for years, picked up a hub and spoke. —Binghampton Republican.

Yes, and a blind carpenter on the same day reached out for his plane
and saw, and a deaf sheep ranchman went out with his dog and herd and
a noseless fisherman caught a barrel herring and smelt, and a defunct
hatter was tenderly deposited on a pile of hair and felt, and a forty
ton elephant inserted his trunk into a grate and flue.
[End excerpt]

Barry Popik has a pertinent entry with a first citation in 1893.

“‘I see,’ said the blind carpenter as he picked up his hammer and saw”


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