“The early bird catches the worm” is a proverb dating from at least the 17th century, and advising that the successful person gets there first. “The first man gets the oyster; the second man gets the shell” is a similar proverb that was a favorite of American industrialist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919). “‘The man who starts first gets the oyster; the second man gets the shell,’ was one of his favorite sayings” was cited in Munsey’s Magazine in 1906.
An 1874 anecdote that appeared in many American newspapers may be related:
“A new game called ‘granger seven up’ is announced. Three persons play for a can of oysters. The first man out gets the oysters, the last man out gets the oyster can, and the middle man don’t get anything.”
Wikipedia: Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie (/kɑrˈneɪɡi/ kar-nay-gee, but commonly /ˈkɑrnɨɡi/ kar-nə-gee or /kɑrˈnɛɡi/ kar-neg-ee; November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919) was a Scottish American industrialist who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century. He was also one of the highest profile philanthropists of his era and, by the time of his death, he had given away to charities and foundations about $350 million (in 2015, $4.76 billion) – almost 90 percent of his fortune. His 1889 article proclaiming “The Gospel of Wealth” called on the rich to use their wealth to improve society, and it stimulated a wave of philanthropy.
28 August 1874, Somerset (OH) Press, pg. 3, col. 2:
A new game called “granger seven up” is announced. Three persons play for a can of oysters. The first man out gets the oysters, the last man out gets the oyster can, and the middle man don’t get anything.
August 1906, Munsey’s Magazine, “The Romance of Steel and Iron in America” by Herbert N. Casson, pg. 588, col. 2:
To be quick—quick—-quick, that was the Carnegian policy.
“The man who starts first gets the oyster; the second man gets the shell,” was one of his favorite sayings.
March 1907, Our Day, “Snapshots at Notables,” pg. 200, col. 2:
HIS DRIVING POWER
SOME recent stories of Mr. Carnegie add to the evidence that a very interesting biography is to come some day, following the numerous sketches of his life, which have thus far appeared. The driving power of the man is immense. One of his favorite sayings is, “The man who starts first gets the oyster; the second man gets the shell.”
By Mary Kay Ash
New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers
Andrew Carnegie once said, “The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell.” A competition in which there’s only one winner may motivate some people, but I believe that it usually produces adverse effects. At Mary Kay Cosmetics, everyone has an opportunity to get the oyster, the shell and the pearl.
1,001 Truths to Inspire, Enlighten and Enrich Everyday Life
Edited by Philip A. Grisolia
Elgin, IL: The Page Group, Inc.
The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell.
“The first man gets the oyster, the second man gets the shell.” Andrew Carnegie
11:00 PM - 29 Mar 2015