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 May 05, 2012
Rags to Riches

"Rags to riches” is an expression to describe someone who was poor (wearing “rags") and who has become rich. “Rags to riches” has been cited in print in 1875 amd 1878, but became popular in the 1890s and 1900s, when the titles of books and plays used the “rags to riches” term.


Wikipedia: Rags to riches
Rags to Riches refers to any situation in which a person rises from poverty to wealth, or sometimes from obscurity to fame. This is a common archetype in literature and popular culture (for example, the writings of Horatio Alger, Jr.).

These stories give the poor hope that they can rise to fame and wealth. They are most popular in societies such as the United States, where confidence in the ability to move between social classes is an important part of the national identity, and lays the foundation of the “American Dream”.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
(from) rags to riches: (from) extreme poverty to great wealth. Freq. attrib.
[a1753 J. S. Some Acct. Irish (1753) 34 Once in the quiet Possession of that Island, they would soon turn their Rags into Riches, their Corn and Cattle into Coin.]
1897 Fitchburg (Mass.) Daily Sentinel 4 May 5/3 Tonight the play, ‘From rags to riches’ by E. E. Rose will be given.
1947 R. de Toledano Frontiers of Jazz 148 Goodman was the first real rags-to-riches success in the swing-jazz field.

10 September 1875, Canton (OH) Repository, pg. 3, col. 3: 
There is something more than a small and select company of incorrigible fools in Ohio at this time having faith in the doctrine that the State can convert a bundle of old rags to riches, but after the October election the company will become small and select.
("An Example from History” from the Cincinnati Commercial—ed.)

18 September 1878, Argus and Patriot (Montpelier, VT), pg. 1, col. 6: 
FROM RAGS TO RICHES.
The story of M. de Bocher’s acquisition of wealth reads like romance.

8 February 1891, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “Today’s Church Services,” pg. 8, col. 5:
Evening theme: “A Narrow Escape,” fifth in the series; “From Rags to Riches.”

Google Books
The Roman empresses or the history of the lives and secret intrigues of the wives of the twelve Caesars:
With historical and critical notes 2

By Jacques Roergas de Serviez
London: Walpole Press
1899
Pg. 267:
The same age, generally speaking, sees its own work fall to nothing: frequently the son or grandson of opulent parents falls into misery and poverty, and passes from honour to obscurity with as rapid a course as the great-grandfather leaped from rags to riches.

OCLC WorldCat record
From rags to riches : a romantic story : based upon the play of the same name
Author: Grace Miller White; J.S. Ogilvie Publishing Company.
Publisher: New York : J.S. Ogilvie Pub. Co., ©1904.
Edition/Format:  Book : Fiction : English

OCLC WorldCat record
From rags to riches, or, A lucky Wall Street messenger
Author: Self-made man; Gaston Garne
Publisher: New York : Harry E. Wolff, Publisher, 1925.
Series: Fame and fortune weekly, no. 1008. 
Edition/Format:  Book : Fiction : English

OCLC WorldCat record
From “rags to riches” à la Alfred E. Smith,
Author: Henry H Klein
Publisher: N[ew] Y[ork] C[ity] The author [©1936]
Edition/Format:  Book : English

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Saturday, May 05, 2012 • Permalink