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.

Recent entries:
“I had a shepherd’s pie for lunch. He was furious” (5/22)
“Average gumbo is only medi-okra” (5/21)
“The job requires me to get a potato clock” (up at eight o’clock) (5/21)
“The past is your lesson. The present is your gift. The future is your motivation” (5/21)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (5/21)
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Entry from November 24, 2012
“There is hardly anything that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper”

"There is scarcely anything in this world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the buyers who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey” is a saying used in many advertisements to inform the public that shopping for quality is cheaper in the long run than shopping for the lowest price. “Remember that there is hardly anything that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and that people who consider price only, are that man’s lawful prey” has been cited in print since at least 1905 and is of unknown authorship.

English author John Ruskin (1819-1900) has been credited with the line since at least 1926, but there is no evidence that he ever wrote it.


Wikiquote: John Ruskin
John Ruskin (February 8, 1819 – January 20, 1900) was an English author, poet and artist, most famous for his work as art critic and social critic.
(...)
Disputed
There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man’s lawful prey.
. According to Ruskin scholar George P. Landow, there is no evidence that this quotation or its variants can be found in any of Ruskin’s works.

Google Books
The Yale Book of Quotations
Edited by Fred R. Shapiro
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
2006
Pg. 657:
John Ruskin
English art and social critic, 1819-1900
“There is scarcely anything in this world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the buyers who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.”
Attributed in Chicago Daily Tribune, 29 Jan. 1928. This quotation, repeated in many commercial advertisements, has not been found anywhere in Ruskin’s works. An earlier unattributed occurrence appeared in the Washington Post, 1 Nov. 1914: “There is absolutely nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper; and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.”

11 November 1905, The Winston-Salem Journal (NC), pg. 5, col. 4 ad:
Remember
that there is hardly anything that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and that people who consider price only, are that man’s lawful prey, ...
(White Star Company—ed.)

2 January 1910, Macon (GA) Daily Telegraph, pg. 10, col. 1 ad:
You know THAT THE BEST IS CHEAPEST IN THE LONG RUN. There is hardly anything in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider PRICE ONLY ARE THIS MAN’S LAWFUL PREY.
(Flournoy Grocery Company—ed.)

Google Books
December 1913, Plymouth Products (Plymouth Cordage Co., North Plymouth, MA), pg. 4:
THERE is hardly anything in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.

1 November 1914, Washington (DC) Post, pg. 8 ad:
“There is absolutely nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper; and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.”

This paragraph impresses us as such a good reason against bargain hunting that we quote it.
(W. Moses & Sons—ed.)

Google Books
August 1917, Northwestern Druggist, pg. 50, col. 2:
“AIN’T IT THE TRUTH”
There is hardly anything in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.

8 December 1926, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, pg. 3, col. 1 ad:
“THERE is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only, are this man’s lawful prey.”
Ruskin
The MacAdams Co.

Google Books
13 October 1932, Printers’ Ink, pg. 99:
Did Ruskin Say It?
(...)
ALTHOUGH diligent search of text and reference books fails to disclose this quotation and its author, we have heard it credited many times to John Ruskin.

The statement as we know it reads: “There is scarcely anything in this world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the buyers who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey.”

Is there anyone in the Printers’ Ink audience who can state exactly when, where and by whom this philosophism was made?

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Saturday, November 24, 2012 • Permalink