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 March 06, 2013
Penny-Pinching (Penny-Pincher)

A “penny-pincher” is someone who is extremely frugal and who counts every penny. The English dramatist Thomas Dekker (1572-1632) wrote “Hang these penny-pinching fathers” in his play, The Shoemaker’s Holiday, or the Gentle Craft (1599).

The terms “penny-pinching” and “penny-pincher” became popularly used in the United States in the second half of the 1800s. “Whether nature or the hard times has made so many penurious, penny-pinching people” was cited in print in 1858 and “ the ‘penny-pincher’ started off, feeling, no doubt, as Lazarus did when ‘licked by dogs’ was cited in print in 1862.


(Oxford English Dictionary)
penny-pinching, adj. and n.
colloq.
A. adj.
Niggardly, parsimonious.
U.S. in earliest modern use.
1600 T. Dekker Shomakers Holiday sig. J4v, Let wine be plentiful as beere, and beere as water, hang these penny pinching fathers.
1892 Bucks County (Pa.) Gaz. 14 Apr. 3/2 These narrow penny-pinching notions found advocates and supporters.
B. n.
orig. U.S. Niggardly habits or behaviour; parsimoniousness.
1895 Massillon (Ohio) Independent 26 Dec. 4/2 The whole business looks like cheese-paring and penny-pinching.

penny-pincher, n.
colloq. (orig. U.S.)
A niggardly or parsimonious person.
1899 Humeston (Iowa) New Era 26 July 8/3 The penny-grabber and penny-pincher has a mighty unpleasant time of it in this world.

Google Books
The Shoemaker’s Holiday, or the Gentle Craft
By Thomas Dekker (1572-1632)
1599
Pg. 69:
Hang these penny-pinching fathers, that cramme wealth in innocent lamb-skinnes.

14 February 1836, The Age (London), pg. 2, col. 2:
With true Radical economy, this dirty-minded penny-pinching Scotchman has fixed upon the country (patriotic soul!) the charge of paying for the individual attention and service rendered to all who have, or may have, the good fortune to be placed in a position to command entrance to the House of Commons.

Google Books
1858 Michigan Farmer, pg. 369, col. 2:
Whether nature or the hard times has made so many penurious, penny-pinching people as are to be met with, it would be hard to say, but it is pleasant to know that there are those who are above the penny principle in matters of friendship, and can be generous in spite of the times.

10 March 1862, Daily News and Reformer (Watertown, NY), pg. 3, col. 1:
The clerks did not see fit to do it, and upon their pointing out “California” to him, the “penny-pincher” started off, feeling, no doubt, as Lazarus did when “licked by dogs.”

6 March 1863, Springfield (MA) Daily Republican, pg. 4, col. 4:
Penny pinching, they (Yankees—ed.) have yet been the most munificent people in the world.

Google Books
January 1877, The Home Missionary, pg. 209:
But, however true that charge may be, who knows how to bestow more royally for the Lord’s work, in this land and abroad, than that same nickel-loving, penny-pinching New England?

Chronicling America
17 January 1878, The Weekly Kansas Chief (Troy, KS), pg. 4, col. 1:
It was then that Mariar fired the bread-board at him, and remarked that she wasn’t “going to stop the circulation of blood in her legs for no bald-headed old penny-pincher.”

Chronicling America
23 July 1880, Saint Paul (MN) Daily Globe, pg. 3, col. 5:
“I do believe if Hancock were to be elected, that the gang back of him would kill him within three months, and then the money-shaver, the penny-pincher, English would appear in the White House, and hang up a broker’s sign upon the front porch.”

Chronicling America
29 May 1884, Saline County Journal (Salina, KS), pg. 1, col. 4:
It is actually charged that Old Bill English, the penny-pinching statesman of Indiana, was guilty of opening his barrel in behalf of his son, who was recently voted his seat in Congress.

Chronicling America
17 July 1887, Sunday Globe (Saint Paul, MN), pg. 1, col. 2:
... and has substituted the cool, calculating, grasping, penny-pinching municipal methods of the New England cities, ...

OCLC WorldCat record
The penny-pincher’s cookbook.
Author: Rita Parsont Wolfson
Publisher: N.Y., Award Books, 1969.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The penny pinchers guide : how to win the fight against inflation in your kitchen
Author: Ellen Usher Durkin
Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, 1971.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The penny-pinching gourmet
Author: Ruth Kaswan
Publisher: Oakland, CA : Urban Alternative Group, ©1979.
Edition/Format: Book : English

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • Wednesday, March 06, 2013 • Permalink