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 used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn’t park anywhere near the place” (11/19)
“Watch repairmen always get to work on time” (11/19)
“I never use body butter. I don’t want to make myself irresistible to cannibals” (11/19)
“Why do midgets make bad parents?"/"Because they struggle to put food on the table.” (11/19)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (11/19)
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Entry from September 19, 2010
“Copper wire was invented by two Jews/ Scots/ Irish/ Dutch/ lawyers fighting over the same penny”

"Copper wire was invented by two Jews/Scots/Irish/Dutch/lawyers fighting over the same penny” is a joke that stereotypes an individual or group for being tight with money. The joke appears to have been invented by at least the 1980s, first applied to Jews and Scotsmen. In the 1990s, the joke was being applied to lawyers, Norwegians and others.


Google Books
American Opinion
Volume 27, Issues 1-6
1984
Pg. 71:
Thus: “Do you know how copper wire was invented? Two Jews found the same penny.”

7 May 1989, Chicago (IL) Sun-Times, “Comedian learns to speak American” by Ernest Tucker, pg. 10:
His act includes some jokes such as quips that copper wire was invented by two Scotsmen fighting over a penny.
(Comedian Billy Connolly—ed.)

Google Books
Wild at Heart:
The story of Sailor and Lula

By Barry Gifford
New York, NY: Grove Weidenfeld
1990
Pg. 78:
“Do you know how it came about that copper wire was invented in Scotland?” Reggie asked.
“How’s that?”
“Two Scotsmen were fighting over a penny.”

Google Books
Ole & Lena jokes, Book 5
By E. C. Stangland
Sioux Falls, SD: Norse Press
1990
Pg. 12:
SWEDE CARLSON: Do you know how copper wire was invented?
OLE: No, l never heard. Who vas it?
SWEDE: lt was two Norwegians fighting over a penny.

1 March 1995, Santa Rosa (CA) Press-Democrat, “Comedy coach, crushers pitch to chamber” by Guy Kovner:
How was copper wire invented? Two lawyers were fighting over a penny.

Google Books
Zig: the autobiography of Zig Ziglar
By Zig Ziglar
New York, NY: Doubleday
2004
Pg. 45:
One particular woman whom I’ll call Mrs. T. W. (for Tight Wad) Blanks was so thrifty she was rumored to have invented copper wire when someone tried to take a penny away from her.

Google Books
Born Again Irish:
A Story of Disaster at Sea, the Joy of Ireland, and the Vortex of Fate

By Frederick C. Caruso
Centennial, CO: Cgi Books
2007
Pg. 241:
For instance, everyone in Ireland knows that copper wire was invented in Cavan when two men discovered it by accident while fighting over a copper penny.

Google Books
Amsterdam
By Jeremy Gray
London: Lonely Planet
2008
Pg. 32:
Last but not least, the Dutch are famously thrifty with their money – and they often don’t know what to think of this. In one breath they might joke about how copper wire was invented by two Dutchmen fighting over a penny – and in the next, tell you that they don’t like being called cheap.

Marshall (MN) Independent
Changes in the courts and judge’s discretion
By Judge George Harrelson
POSTED: September 17, 2008
(...)
In the outstate area, money was scarce and county commissioners were, and still are, famous for being frugal. In my county it is rumored that copper wire was discovered by two of our county commissioners fighting over a penny.

Emporia (KS) Gazette
My soaps
Cheryl Unruh
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
(...)
(Joke: Do you know how copper wire was invented? By two Mennonites, stretching a penny.)

Think Progress
Think Fast
By Amanda Terkel on Oct 19th, 2009 at 4:28 pm
Republican officials: DeMint is ‘watching our nation’s pennies’ — like a Jew would.
(...)
COMMENTS
Snowball says:
Q: How was copper wire invented?
A: Two Republicans fighting over a penny.
How do you like THAT stereotype, Mr. Republican?
October 19th, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Sunday, September 19, 2010 • Permalink