[Ads-l] Image for Major Antedating of "Uncle Sam"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Fri May 20 00:45:27 UTC 2022

Here is the link to the image of the 1803 antedating of "Uncle Sam":

uncle-sam - Swann Galleries News<https://www.swanngalleries.com/news/printed-and-manuscript-americana/2022/03/upcoming-highlights-printed-manuscript-americana-april-7-2022/attachment/uncle-sam/>
swanngalleries. Specializing in rare books, fine art and everything in between. President & principal auctioneer: @nicholowry

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, February 8, 2022 6:08 PM
Subject: Major Antedating of "Uncle Sam"

I have a very nice antedating to report.  The Winter - Spring 2022 issue (Volume 36, Number 2) of The Trumpet newsletter put out by the Swann Auction Galleries in New York has an item of great historical-lexicographical interest.  On April 7 they are auctioning off a letter by Robert Orr dated June 7, 1803.  The letter regards an arms inspection for Eli Whitney.

The letter is reproduced on page 7 of the newsletter.  At the bottom of the letter there is a postscript that clearly reads "I expect to go to New Haven next week to inspect arms made by Ely Whitney for Unkel Sam 500."  I don't know what the "500" means.

The earliest citation in the Oxford English Dictionary for "Uncle Sam" is dated 1810, so this is a significant improvement to the historical record.  The image of the letter is not yet on the Swann website, but I will post a link when one is available.

Fred Shapiro
New Yale Book of Quotations (Yale University Press)

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list