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 April 14, 2005
Peter Funk
A "Peter Funk" was a dishonest salesman or auctioneer. The term is not used today. It was a common term in the 1830s and 1840s and appears to have originated on Pearl Street.

Cassell Dictionary of Slang
by Jonathon Green
London: Cassell
1998

Pg. 907:
peter funk n. [early 19C](US) a fraudulent salesman, often operating in the guise of an auctioneer, who augments the appeal of their third-rate merchandise by intimating that it had in some way been acquired illegally. [a generic proper name, orig. Ger./Du.]

A Dictionary of Americanisms
edited by Mitford M. Mathews
Chicago: University of Chicago Press
1951

Volume II
Pg. 1228:

Peter Funk. A swindler, a by-bidder at an auction, Also attrib.
1834 GREENE Perils of Pearl St. 51 Peter Funk...is the very imp of deception;...his name is sometimes used figuratively to signify any thing which is employed for the purpose of deception.
1845 Quincy (Ill.) Whig, 4 Nov. 2/4 A green-looking youth...strayed into one of the Peter Funk auctions on Broadway.

b. Peter Funkism, trickery, the practice of swindling.
1849 G. G. FOSTER N.Y. in Slices 34 You may find the red flag if Peter Funkism flying in Pearl-street and other "heavy" quarters, where it is generally supposed that transactions are bona fide and dealers responsible.
Posted by Barry Popik
Workers/People • (0) Comments • Thursday, April 14, 2005 • Permalink