[Ads-l] Antedating of "Spoof"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 5 02:11:34 UTC 2019

Here is the 1888 citation in which "Spoof" consisted of convincing a
person to disrobe via a series of bets. The 1884 citation hints at the
possibility of nudity in the game when it states that Spoof was
"invented by the anonymous cad, who has come down to posterity as the
husband of Lady Godiva".

Date: December 3, 1888
Newspaper: Liverpool Mercury
Newspaper Location: Liverpool, England
Article: Extraordinary Conduct of Liverpool Tradesman
Quote Page 8, Column 8
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt - check for OCR errors – paragraph breaks added for readability]
Dr. Commins: Are you aware, officer, that there is a very gross game
practised by some vicious people in this part of England called
"Spoof?" Witness: I have just got to know that that game has been
introduced. --Dr. Commins proceeded to ask the witness whether the
game did not consist in one or more who desired to play a nasty
practical joke getting hold of a man and betting that he would not
take off his coat, then his waistcoat, until he was stripped of all
his clothing.

One of the bets on this occasion was that Vaughan, having divested
himself of all his clothes and blacked himself with lampblack, would
not go to the nearest public house and ask for a glass of beer.--By
the Chairman: I saw the defendant all the way from the stables to the
public house.--By Mr. Swift: The men did not take notice of any
females or even of him. (Laughter.)

Wilson followed to the police station, because he had told him he must
come and the reply was, "All right; I will stand by my pal."--John
Bleasdale, the licensee of the public house, said that when he saw
Vaughan he ordered him out. He was astonished to see him. Vaughan did
not ask for beer or anything else.

He knew the defendants to be respectable men. --Dr. Commins contended
that there was no case against Vaughan, who had been made the victim
of a brutal joke. They gently got him to take off his clothes over
this peculiar game, and then ran him to the nearest public house
through the public street. The officer's evidence showed that the man
was held until he reached the public house. . . .
[End excerpt]


On Mon, Mar 4, 2019 at 8:38 PM ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> Excellent antedating for an intriguing term, Fred. Here is an instance
> of "Spoof" (and "Spouf") slightly earlier. The rules of the game are
> included; however, they appear to be deliberately incomplete and
> nonsensical.
> Date: July 26, 1884
> Newspaper: The Sporting Times, Otherwise Known as The "Pink 'Un"
> Newspaper Location: London, England
> Article: (Untitled short item)
> Quote Page 1, Column 4
> Database: British Newspaper Archive
> [Begin excerpt - check for OCR errors]
> We have been asked by several ignorant correspondents to enlighten
> them on the subject of the grand old national pastime of “Spoof,”
> which has been mentioned in this paper. Merely pausing to say that
> anyone writing "Spouf" is a liar and assassin, we proceed to say that
> the game is of Anglo-Saxon origin, having been invented by the
> anonymous cad, who has come down to posterity as the husband of Lady
> Godiva. The derivation is obscure, but the name may be the offspring
> of an attempt to say "S-pooh-pooh-f” during supper the Adelphi Club,
> where this game is played to perfection. We have received copy of the
> rules of the game, drawn up by the Gasper, who is President of the
> Ancient Guild of Spoof-Smiths, together with an application for our
> annual subscription. We print the rules, and will consider the
> subscription at our leisure:—
> 1. No cards, counters, or stumers to be used.
> 2. Anyone wearing odd socks, or a dicky, or a paper collar to be disqualified.
> 3. Anybody getting out of temper to be fined drinks.
> 4. Nobody to leave a room save by the window and chimney.
> 5. Anybody found in possession of a summer-house, barn, or
> back-kitchen to be expelled.
> 6. No fines or subscriptions ever to be paid—on pain of expulsion.
> 7. Evening-dress indispensable.
> 8. Liver pads indispensable.
> 9. Red flannel shirts indispensable.
> New members are wanted—as are most of the old ones at Scotland Yard.
> [End excerpt]
> I came across an 1888 citation where the goal of "Spoof" was to
> convince a naive (perhaps drunk) person to disrobe and go to a public
> place via a series of bets, but that scenario may have simply
> corresponded to one particular type of prank.
> Garson

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