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 January 30, 2009
“Money, Marbles and Chalk” ("Money, Marbles or Chalk")

"Money, marbles and chalk” (or “money, marbles or chalk") means “going for everything.” Similar phrases might be “all the marbles” and “the whole kit and kaboodle.” In the game of marbles, chalk is used to draw on the pavement, and the game is sometimes played for money. “Money, marbles or chalk” is cited in print from at least 1880. In 1949, “Money, Marbles, and Chalk” was title of a best-sellling song that was recorded by Patti Page.

Money, marbles, and chalk; the wondrous world of Texas politics is the title of a 1971 book by Jimmy Banks. The term “money, marbles and chalk” has had long use in Texas and was said by George W. Bush political adviser Karl Rove.


Wikipedia: Money, Marbles, and Chalk
“Money, Marbles, and Chalk” is a popular song, written by Garner “Pop” Eckler in 1949. Eckler also recorded the song, but the biggest-selling version was recorded by Patti Page in 1949, and issued by Mercury Records as catalog number 5251. It entered the Billboard chart on April 23, 1949, at #27, lasting only that one week. The song also spent a week on the Billboard country music chart, at position #15. Many other artists have recorded the song also.

“Money, Marbles & Chalk” was recorded in June of 2006 by a group called “Pop’s Boys”. The group is made up of two of Garner Eckler’s nephews, Greg Eckler and Mike Fletcher.

23 December 1880, Jackson Sentinel (Maquoketa, Iowa), pg. 1, col. 7:
Our little boy Charley has worked at the case a little more than a year. With the single exception of Mr. Monger, of Anamosa, there is not a type-sticker in the country that can beat him, for “money, marbles, or chalk.”—Monticelle Liberal

13 May 1884, Albuquerque (NM) Journal, pg. 4, col. 1 ad:
Don’t you forget it. The Staff of Life is the best Flour in Albuquerque for “money, marbles or chalk.” Try a sack at Cady & Co’s.

20 December 1884, Rio Grande Republican (Las Cruces, NM), pg. 3, col. 1:
We have the cleanest and neatest printing office in the Territory, for money, marbles or chalk.

2 May 1886, Biasmarck (ND) Tribune, pg. 3:
...offering to “out-run, out-jump or out-spar any man in the crowd, for money, marbles or chalk.”

Chronicling America
15 December 1889, Omaha (NE) , part II, pg. 16, col. 5:
Senator Morgan feels sore over his recent defeat by Fred Merrill, the Oregon champion, and is filling the Portland papers with challenges. He wants to run Merrill a mile, ten miles or 100 miles, for money, marbles or chalk, and as Merrill thinks pretty well of himself, he says he will accommodate the wrathful senator, but that he will take his own time in doing it.

Google Books
Taking Chances
By Clarence L. Cullen
New York, NY: G. W. Dillingham Company
1900
Pg. 215:
In the first place, he was a yap at cards, and any American kid that knew how to play old maid could have hopped out of the back of a prairie schooner and beaten Cato out of his boots at the game for money, marbles or chalk. 

Google Books
Uncle Walt:
The Poet Philosopher

By Walt Mason
Chicago, IL: George Matthew Adams
1910
Pg. 136:
“If any challenger should come, and put up a substantial sum, and say that he’d be glad to ride, upon a raw-boned hearse horse tied, for sixty miles or maybe more, for money, marbles, chalk or gore, just say my last long ride is made, until the lecture graft is played.”

Google Books
The Apaches of New York
By Alfred Henry Lewis
Chicago, IL: M. A. Donohue & Company
1912
Pg. 44:
“‘Also,’ says he, ‘we can lick ‘em for money, marbles or chalk. Wat d’youse say, me royal brothers?’”

Google News Archive
30 November 1933, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, pg. 35, col. 2 ad:
Money, marbles or
CHALK?

(...)
We know how to give you a full measure of value—whether the measurement is in money, marbles or chalk.
(Harris Charge Account—ed.)

OCLC WorldCat record
Money, marbles, and chalk.
by Douglas Fairbairn
Type:  Book : Fiction; English
Publisher: New York, Simon and Schuster, 1958.

OCLC WorldCat record
Money, marbles, and chalk; the wondrous world of Texas politics.
by Jimmy Banks
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: Austin, Texas Pub. Co. [1971]

OCLC WorldCat record
Money, marbles, or chalk : student financial support in higher education
by Roland Keene; Frank C Adams; John E King
Type:  Book; English
Publisher: Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, [1975]

USA Today
03/19/00- Updated 07:53 PM ET
Bush team plans for upcoming battle
By Judy Keen, USA TODAY
(...)
“There’s an old Texas phrase in politics: money, marbles and chalk,” Rove says. “It means it’s for everything. This campaign is going to be for money, marbles and chalk.”

OCLC WorldCat record
Money, marbles and chalk
by Shirley A Pritchett
Type:  Book : Biography; English
Publisher: Oklahoma City, Okla. : [S. Pritchett], ©2003. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (2) Comments • Friday, January 30, 2009 • Permalink


"Money, marbles and chalk” sounds like something different from “money, marbles or chalk”.  I think the phrase evolved. 

With the “and” it does sound close to “all the marbles”.  With the “or” I believe it was more about what terms were used for a wager, rather than what the winner would walk away with.  I think the chalk referred to an adult gambler’s use of chalk as a marker for his bet, not how a boy might use chalk to draw a circle.

Posted by Stephanie H  on  04/15  at  07:55 AM

My grandfather was a folk musician who used to sing me this song when we fell asleep, when he was in very poor health. I always took it to mean that we have nothing to loose, because we don’t own anything in nature, really when it gets down to it, we just have ourselves...so give it your all. Whatever your “it” is, just go for it.

He sang it as “I’ve got money, marble and chalk, sweetheart, but I still feel like I am poor. My money won’t spend and my marble won’t roll and my chalk won’t write anymore.

In my case in particular, it had to do with his coming death, his career as an artist, my mentor in the arts, him telling me to just go for it.

Posted by Jamie F  on  04/17  at  12:15 AM

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