Don't take any wooden nickles?

Where, when, how and why did this saying come about?

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  • 10 years ago
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    : : DON'T TAKE ANY WOODEN NICKELS - "First recorded in about 1915, this expression was originally a warning from friends and relatives to rubes leaving the sticks in the great migration from rural areas to the big cities at the turn of the century. It was a humorous adjuration meaning beware of those city slickers, for no real wooden nickels were ever counterfeited - they would have cost more to make than they'd have been worth. Ironically, country boys were the ones who possibly did succeed in passing off wooden objects as the real thing. Yankee peddlers as early as 1825 allegedly sold wooden nutmegs, which cost manufacturers a quarter of a cent apiece mixed in with lots of real nutmegs worth four cents each." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

    : : A second source says, the expression means: "Don't let yourself be cheated or ripped off. Originated in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. Money that has no real value is sometimes called 'wooden'.Probably stories about wooden nutmegs, wooden hams, and wooden pumpkin seeds contributed to the later use of the phrase 'wooden nickels' in American or even to the use of 'wooden rubles' in Russia." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

    : : Another source adds: "The United States minted five-cent pieces from the earliest days of the Union, but they were not known as nickels until 1866, because in that year the first five-cent coins containing nickel were minted. The practice of making commemorative tokens out of wood as centennial souvenirs developed and we assume that wooden nickels actually were made during the nineteenth century for this purpose. Frequently such coins are accepted as legal tender while the celebration is in progress, but of course they cease to have value when the show is over. So the expression 'Don't take any wooden nickels' became the popular equivalent of 'Don't be a sucker.'." From "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

    : The phrase had imitators. One of the schools I attended was in a very god-fearing little town where booze, movies and dancing were all banned. One year the high school play was "Janie" (1942), a story of family life. The citizens who saw it were made extremely uncomfortable when one character said to Janie, "Don't take any wooden brassieres!"

    :An American adage, "Don't take any wooden nickels" is considered a lighthearted reminder to be cautious in one's dealings. This adage, too, precedes the use of wooden nickels as a replacement currency, suggesting that its origins lie not in the genuine monetary value of nickels but rather in their purely commemorative nature.

    However, such an interpretation should not be altogether ignored: gold-backed currency was in use in the United States until 1933, 90% silver coins were still minted until 1964, and 40% silver Kennedy half dollars were issued up to 1969.

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  • 4 years ago

    Give me the wooden nickles....feck the Yankees...opps did I say that out loud....my bad

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    don't be foold by promise of coin. was the jist of it

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    dont take wooden nickles duh

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