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

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 2 07:39:07 UTC 2019

An earlier variant first appeared in the British humor magazine, Judy (HathiTrust), and three days later in an English newspaper, and a slightly modified version appearing in several newspapers (newspapers.com) before the end of the year.

"There's a blind carpenter in the West Riding of Yorkshire who, though he can't see a peg, can saw a log."

Judy, September 7, 1870, page 201.

The US versions replace,  "the West Riding of Yorkshire" with "out west."
From: ADSGarson O'Toole<mailto:adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: ‎1/‎1/‎2019 22:11
Subject: Saying: "I see," said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.

---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Saying: "I see," said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer
              and saw.

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=E2=80=94he took his hammer and saw. =E2=80=94Commercial 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. =E2=80=94Binghampton 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.

=E2=80=9C=E2=80=98I see,=E2=80=99 said the blind carpenter as he picked up =
his hammer and saw=E2=80=9D


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

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