[Ads-l] swear(ing) box, swear(ing) jar
adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 6 21:31:49 UTC 2021
Wow! Excellent, Ben. Google Books seems to have the same text in 1746.
So the 1752 text might have been reprinted. I am not completely sure
about the date. The pages within the volume do not list the year. It
looks like the year is only specified on the cover. You may wish to
double check the details in Google Books.
Year: 1746 December 20 (MDCCXLVI)
Title: The Museum: or, The Literary and Historical Register
An APOLOGY for SWEARING
Being the Remonstrance of one of the Members of a Certain Society near
St. James's, against erecting a SWEARING-Box, and imposing a Penalty
On Wed, Jan 6, 2021 at 4:11 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> Taking it back much further...
> The Maryland Gazette, Apr. 2, 1752, p. 1, col. 1
> An Apology for Swearing.
> Being a Remonstrance of one of the Members of a certain Society near St.
> James's, against erecting a Swearing Box, and imposing a Penalty upon Oaths.
> On Wed, Jan 6, 2021 at 4:02 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
> > Fun topic and nice work, Ben. Below is a match that occurs a bit
> > earlier in 1875. The following excerpt contains "swearing box"
> > together with the variant "curse box" which you did not list. The
> > penalty is a nickel instead of a dime.
> > Date: February 20, 1875
> > Newspaper: The Philadelphia Inquirer
> > Newspaper Location:
> > Article: The State and Vicinity
> > Quote Page 1, Column 5
> > Database: GenealogyBank
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > In a Westwood, Bergen county, store, is a "curse box." Every body that
> > utters an oath is obliged to deposits five cents in the box. The
> > "setters" call it a "swearing box," and say it's a sinking fund for
> > them when they get hard up.
> > [End excerpt]
> > Garson
> > On Wed, Jan 6, 2021 at 3:10 PM Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> > >
> > > Dennis Baron asks about the history of the "swear jar" and its precursor
> > > the "swear box." Neither is in OED or other dictionaries I checked
> > (though
> > > there's a Wikipedia entry -- see below).
> > >
> > > Here are the earliest cites I've found so far for the different variants.
> > >
> > > * "swearing box" (1878)
> > > https://www.newspapers.com/clip/67055532/swearing-box/
> > > The Weekly Observer (Raleigh, NC), Apr. 30, 1878, p. 1, col. 4
> > > New York, April 22, 1878 -- A queer character died here a few days ago --
> > > George W. Blunt, aged 77, for many years Commissioner of Pilots. He
> > > abhorred profanity, and kept in his office a tin box in which he required
> > > every man who swore in his presence to deposit a dime, the proceeds being
> > > applied to some charitable purpose. It is related that he himself was the
> > > largest contributor, giving from two to five dimes every day for an equal
> > > number of "damns." His box was crammed for a while, but the pilots
> > learned
> > > to take their luxuries in cheaper regions and of late a dime, except it
> > was
> > > from Mr. Blunt's pocket, had rarely dropped therein. It is related that a
> > > prominent yacht-owner entered Mr. Blunt's office one day, and while
> > > conversing with him swore. Mr. Blunt demanded his 10 cents. An
> > explanation
> > > followed and the yacht-owner retired, apparently very indignant, but
> > > without paying the fine. Mr. Blunt was surprised next morning at
> > receiving
> > > a check for $1000 as a "swearer's contribution" to the charities to which
> > > the swearing box was devoted, the "Pilots' Charitable Fund" and the
> > "Pilots
> > > Benevolent Association."
> > >
> > > * "swear box" (1883)
> > > https://www.newspapers.com/clip/67054515/swear-box/
> > > The Boston Globe, Mar. 20, 1883, p. 6, col. 3
> > > $100 a Week for the "Swear-Box." (Pittsburg Dispatch.)
> > > In the office of the pilot commissioners in New York is a strong iron box
> > > constructed on the plan of a toy savings bank. It is known among the
> > pilots
> > > as the "swear-box," and every person swearing in that room has to pay ten
> > > cents for each oath, or three for a quarter, the money going into the
> > box.
> > > One pilot is known to have paid over $1000. It was not unusual to collect
> > > $100 a week for the first few months after it was put up, but of late
> > years
> > > the contributions have fallen off heavily. The rule is rigidly enforced
> > and
> > > no one ever objects to paying the penalty, even if the oath was purely
> > > accidental. Old Commodore Vanderbilt was once a heavy contributor, and so
> > > were other large ship and boat owners.
> > >
> > > * "swearing jar" (1947)
> > > https://www.newspapers.com/clip/67055396/swearing-jar/
> > > The Desert Sun (Palm Springs, CA), Apr. 4, 1947, p. 1, col. 1
> > > It says that John Gray and Budd Sarkis at the Rolly Room have filled
> > their
> > > third "swearing jar" and it's going to a little girl in the Village ...
> > > seems they have a glass jar down there and when anybody says the bad
> > word,
> > > he has to chunk it in the jar for charity ... the hospital has benefited
> > > twice because of breach of tempers ... now this little girl is going to
> > > profit. ... So, if you have to swear, do it at the Rolly Room and be
> > > prepared to pay.
> > >
> > > * "swear jar" (1953)
> > > https://www.newspapers.com/clip/67054952/swear-jar/
> > > The World (Coos Bay, OR), June 30, 1953, p. 2, col. 2 (photo caption)
> > > A "swear jar" at the Blue Moon tavern has raised approximately $100 for
> > the
> > > North Lake Crippled Children's Camp and has started a movement expected
> > to
> > > spread to other taverns in Coos County. Mrs. Joe Rennaker, bartender,
> > > thought up the plan and the owner, Robert Downer, has asked all 47 other
> > > taverns in the county to do the same. Mrs. Rennaker, center, is holding
> > her
> > > swear jar, while Mrs. Clea Farr and Robert (Scotty) Agnew demonstrate how
> > > fines are collected.
> > >
> > > Wikipedia has an entry that dates "swear box" to the 1890s. It also
> > claims
> > > "swear jar" dates to the 1910s, but that appears to be based on false
> > > positives from Google Ngrams and not actual cites.
> > > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swear_jar
> > >
> > >
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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