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, 2011
Oldest Profession (prostitution)

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) wrote in the short story “On the City Wall” (1888):

“Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession in the world.”

In the 1890s, Kipling was being credited for calling prostitution “the oldest profession in the world.” In the 19th century, farming was also known as the “oldest profession.”

Politics has been called (by Ronald Reagan and others) “the world’s second oldest profession.”


Wikipedia: In Black and White (Kipling stories)
In Black and White is a collection of eight short stories by Rudyard Kipling which was first published in a booklet of 108 pages as no. 3 of A H Wheeler & Co.’s Indian Railway Library in 1888.
(...)
. “On the City Wall” - told by an English narrator

(Oxford English Dictionary)
oldest profession n. euphem. prostitution.
1922 A. Woollcott Shouts & Murmurs ii. 57 The Actor and the Streetwalker.‥ The two oldest professions in the world—ruined by amateurs.
1936 Times Lit. Suppl. 18 Apr. 338/4 Blackham has attempted a comprehensive survey of the activities of womankind from ‘the oldest profession’ to the magistracy.
1994 R. Hendrickson Happy Trails 33 Here, along three city blocks‥,the ‘brides of the multitudes’ practiced the oldest profession.

7 May 1857, Lowell (MA) Daily Citizen and News, “Going West,” pg. 2, col. 2:
Then, the agricultural is the most notable as well as the oldest profession.

Chronicling America
14 August 1874, Andrew County Republican (Savannah, MO), pg. 8, col. 4:
The farmers were not inferior to any other class. Theirs was the oldest profession of man and the noblest of all. Adam and Eve were the first grangers.

10 March 1883, Grand Forks (ND) Herald, pg. 4, col. 4:
In fact agriculture is the first and best as well as the oldest profession.

27 January 1887, Boston (MA) Herald, pg. 4, col. 7:
Hon. George A, Marden of Lowell was then introduced to respond for the press. He asserted that journalism was the oldest profession in existence. Adam was a farmer, therefore not a professional man, and the devil, his colleague in sacred history, has been for all time identified with the trade. (Applause.)

26 February 1893, New York (NY) Times, pg. 18:
VAUXHALL GARDENS.—(...) It must once have been a merry, yet proper place, for the expression, “Ranelagh girl” became common, and, happily, did not mean one who belonged to what has been called the “oldest profession in the world,” but a “lively young lady of excellent principles.”

Google Books
In Black and White
By Rudyard Kipling
New York, NY: Macmillan and Co.
1895
Pg. 302 ("On the City Wall"):
Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession in the world. Lilith was her very-great-grand-mamma, and that was before the days of Eve, as everyone knows. In the West, people say rude things about Lalun’s profession, and write lectures about it and distribute the lectures to young persons in order that Morality may be preserved. In the East, where the profession is hereditary, descending from mother to daughter, nobody writes lectures or takes any notice; and that is a distinct proof of the inability of the East to manage its own affairs.

Google Books
19 July 1895, The Literary World, pg. 47, col. 3:
MR. ARTHUR SYMONS.—‘Mr. Rudyard Kipling and Mr. Arthur Symons alone seem to sing in the living present, and even the burden of their song is old as any — the glory of the British Army, and the glorification of what Mr. Kipling has called “the oldest profession in the world.“‘

Google Books
Impressions of Spain
By Albert Frederick Calvert
London: G. Philip
1903
Pg. 25:
I have never seen there an intoxicated man or a representative of what Rudyard Kipling has described as “the oldest profession in the world.”

Google Books
5 March 1904, The Spectator, pg. 376, col. 1:
The ‘oldest profession in the world’ certainly furnishes the novelist with many an effective subject; but it seems a pity for the idea to get abroad that every woman is at heart a rake or worse.

Google Books
George Bernard Shaw: His Plays
By Henry L. Mencken
Boston. MA: John Luce & Co.
1905
Pg. 1 ("Mrs. Warren’s Profession"):
MRS. “KITTY” WARREN, the central character of Shaw’s most remarkable play (and it is one of the most remarkable plays, in many ways, of the time) is a successful practitioner of what Kipling calls the oldest profession in the world.

Google News Archive
1 August 1914, Pittsburg (PA) Press, pg. 2, col. 7:
A Cry From the Underworld
Once in a blue moon there is published a story that bares the throbbing heart of modern city life. To THE PRESS has come such a document, the confession of a woman, forced out of “the oldest profession in the world” by the Morals Bureau.

OCLC WorldCat record
The oldest profession in the world, prostitution : its underlying causes, its treatment, and its future
Author: William J Robinson
Publisher: New York : Eugenics Pub. Co., 1929.
Edition/Format:  Book Microform : Microfilm : Master microform : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The second oldest profession; a study of the prostitute’s “business manager”
Author: Ben L Reitman
Publisher: New York, Vanguard Press, 1931.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The story of the world’s oldest profession; prostitution in the ancient, medieval and modern worlds
Author: Joseph McCabe
Publisher: Girard, Kan., Haldeman-Julius Publications [©1932]
Edition/Format:  Book : English

November 1947, International Steward, pg. 34, col. 1:
THE OLDEST PROFESSION
By Louis Richter
NO DOUBT it happened soon after man learned to walk upright and carry a blub or stone; that he learned he might obtain meat from another hunter in exchange for some favor. This was food for pay, and the beginning of the food industry.

You, who serve food, can feel a pride in being engaged in the world’s oldest profession.

Wikipedia: The Oldest Profession (film)
The Oldest Profession (French: Le Plus Vieux Métier du monde) is a 1967 French comedy film. It was directed by six different film directors, each one doing a segment on prostitution through the ages.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • (0) Comments • Monday, December 19, 2011 • Permalink