A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 19, 2008
“It takes money to make money” ("You’ve got to spend money to make money")

"It takes money to make money” is a rhyming American business adage that dates to at least 1850. By at least 1888, the “take/make” rhyme was changed into the saying: “You’ve got to spend money to make money.”

“You’ve got to save money to make money” has also been used, although much less frequently than “spend money to make money.” “You need money to make money” is a non-rhyming form of the saying.

“It takes money to make money because you have to copy the design exactly” is a jocular extension of the saying that has been cited in print since 1994.


18 May 1850, Connecticut Courant (Hartford, CT), “A Letter from California,” pg. 73?:.
This country is like all others, it takes money to make money, and men who arrived in this country with money, have, a great many of them, made fortunes in a short time. The working class too have made money, more by working at their trades than by working the mines.

Google Books
A prize essay on political economy, as adapted to the Republic of Liberia
By the Rev. J. S. Payne
Monrovia: G. Killian, Printer—Liberia Herald, Office
1860
Pg. 20:
“It takes money to make money.” We have often heard this saying (Pg. 21—ed.) but we have a vivid realization of it in our present circumstances.

28 March 1868, Austin (TX) Republican, pg. 2:
Neither is there any thing more true than the expression we have all heard, that it takes money to make money.

25 November 1871, Pomeroy’s Democrat (Chicago, IL), pg. 5: 
It takes money to make money in this country. 

Google Books
Potter’s Field;
Or The Gentleman with the Black Humor

A Tragedy in Five Acts
By Aristophanes (Arthur Boyne—ed.)
San Francisco, CA: A. L. Bancroft & Company
1873
Pg. 63:
HUB. It takes money to make money, madam.

Google Books
The Bar-Rooms at Brantly;
Or, The Great Hotel Speculation

By Timothy Shay Arthur
Philadelphia, PA: Porter & Coates
1877
Pg. 41:
“Of course,” was answered, “I know of good openings enough if I could put down the cash. It takes money to make money.”

23 August 1878, Marion (OH) Daily Star, pg. 3, col. 3:
“Perhaps so; but it takes money to make money, you know.”

Google Books
The Philosophy of Price, and Its Relation to Domestic Currency
By Nelson A. Dunning
Chicago, IL: Chicago Sentinel Publishing Co.
1887
Pg. 231:
I do not wish to be understood as making war on capital, or not upholding a just emulation in the acquirement of wealth, but I do wish to convey this—that the laws of distribution should take from money its power of attraction to other forms of wealth; that is, I would eliminate the idea from the minds of men that “it takes money to make money,” as they now express it. I would substitute instead the plain fact that it takes labor to make money.

20 January 1888, Newark (OH) Daily Advocate, pg. 4, col. 4:
This experience simply goes to prove that men must spend money to make money. 

Google Books
June 1889, The Gospel in All Lands, pg. 281, col. 2:
D. I have heard father say that one must spend money to make money, and if one wishes to reap profit from an inheritance one must expend time and money.

3 July 1891, Coshocton (OH) Democratic Standard, pg. 6, col. 6 ad:
It Takes Money To Make Money.
(Baker & McCoy shoes—ed.)

22 September 1896, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 1 (upper right hand corner box);
It Takes Money
To make money, but a very little spent in advertising will bring a mighty harvest. 

3 July 1919, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Letters to the Times” by Vernon Givan, pg. II2:
LOS ANGELES, July 1.-- [To the Editor of The Times:]
It takes money to make money is an old saving, the truthfulness of which has nothing in it which would imply that the earnings thus made…

Google News Archive
10 March 1924, St. Petersburg (FL) Evening Independent, pg. 14, col. 6 ad:
Does It Take Money To Make Money?
It is very often said that it takes moeny to make money and most people believe it and therefore fail to make any. True, it takes money,—but only a very little, some times.
(Sunny Slope Subdivision property, by W. McKee Kelley Co.—ed.)

Google News Archive
13 September 1926, St. Petersburg (FL) Evening Independent, pg. 7, col. 2 ad:
It Takes Money to Make Money
No truer thing was ever said....Think of all the opportunities that rise up on all sides: and then think of all those who are unable to take advantage. Why? Simply because they haven’t sufficient money....It certainly does take money to make it.
(State Savings Building and Loan Association—ed.)

OCLC WorldCat record
CARTech’s $150-Million Expansion: “You gotta spend money to make money,” goes the saying, and Carpenter Technology believes it
Type:  Article; English
Publication: 33 METAL PRODUCING, 35, no. 3, (1997): 42-44
Database: British Library Serials

OCLC WorldCat record
Business Matters - Capital Catch-22 - You’ve got to spend money to make money, the old adage says, but when investments are made cash flow is hit. That, in turn, can hurt access to additional capital. What’s a hospital to do?
Type:  Article; English
Publisher: Chicago, IL : American Hospital Pub., c1993-
Publication: Hospitals & health networks / 79, no. 6, (2005): 32
Database: ArticleFirst

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Friday, December 19, 2008 • Permalink