Gay nineties
Posted: 07 February 2008 07:32 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The last time we covered this, four years ago, we didn’t have much luck. Still no primary cite in OED. I just saw the Mae West movie She Done Him Wrong (1933), where the Gay Nineties is mentioned in the preamble. The oldest reference in OED is 1930. Anything earlier?

(Eliza and I mentioned the alternative ‘Naughty Nineties’ in that thread. Anything on that?)

From the said movie:

Woman singer: “Ever since I heard that song it’s been haunting me.”
Pianist: “It should haunt you, you murdered it.”

[ Edited: 07 February 2008 07:44 AM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 07 February 2008 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Thanks to a Google Books search, for publication dates before 1929, there are many citations available.

Here are two from a single source:

Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the National Child Labor Committee
1905,

Page 91:

Now, since Miss Morgan has confessed that she hails from the Gay Nineties, I am sorry that in those days I was living out in the “sticks” in the Middle West and…

page 86:

I don’t really know what you will think of either my wisdom or my sagacity when I begin by confessing that I actually belong to a period known to you all as the “Gay Nineties” and that I have changed very little. 

I haven’t checked every listing, but this one is older yet:

The Wisconsin Archeologist
By Wisconsin Archeological Society, Wisconsin Natural History Society Archeological Section

Published 1901
Wisconsin Archeological
Society, etc.

… Waters Indian stories and legends were also connected with some of the famous
Waukesha springs of the Waukesha Water resort days of the gay nineties. ...

Older yet:

Pamphlets on Forest Improvements - Page 53
Forests and forestry - 1900
You are giving us a new approach on it. « Mr. STINCHCOMB. I think that came in
with the gay nineties, but I think back of that, before, when we realized the ...

[ Edited: 07 February 2008 08:28 AM by cuchuflete ]
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Posted: 07 February 2008 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I have to say those cites don’t sound like people referencing a time just six years in the past. Google Book Search is notorious for misleading dates.

The third one too. Remember, Google dates by the publication’s first issue, not the issue the snippet is taken from.

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Posted: 07 February 2008 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thanks for correcting me.  I need to learn more about Google Books’ dating conventions.  It now looks like the last one
I cited was copyright 1935!  Sorry for the dubious leads.

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Posted: 07 February 2008 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The New York Times’ own archive, which seems to have much more accurate text searching than the Proquest archive of the same newspaper, shows hits from 1926, but charges to see anything beyond the first paragraph.  There is, however, a Dec 1927 article in which the phrase occurs in the sub-head.

(I searched a half-dozen earlier ostensible hits at Proquest without even finding the phrase in the texts.)
Naughty Nineties from 1916.

[ Edited: 07 February 2008 12:28 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 07 February 2008 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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NPA has the reference from April of 1923.  A full page of drawings entitled “Among us Mortals: The Gay Nineties” which seems to depict life in the 1890s.

edit: corrected month

[ Edited: 07 February 2008 08:16 PM by Oecolampadius ]
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Posted: 07 February 2008 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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The first mention of the phrase in The Times (of London) comes in an advertisement for various new books on Thursday, December 8, 1927; pg. 10 including one called London Nights of Long Ago by Shaw Desmond described as “Haunting memories of the Gay Nineties ... sets free the ghosts ... who frequented the streets of London a quarter of a century ago”. Pedants will work out that a quarter of a century back from 1927 is only 1902, which is not the Nineties ...

Possibly significantly, the next mention of the phrase is in the issue of Thursday, July 24, 1930; pg. 10, in an ad for the Empire cinema. Leicester Square, which was showing “Marion Davies in The Gay Nineties - ALL-TALKING”. Davies, of course, was Randolph Heart’s mistress for many years. In the US this film was known as The Florodora Girl, subtitled “a story of the Gay Nineties”.

The “Naughty Nineties” first get a mention in The Times on Saturday, April 7, 1928; pg. 6, under “Programmes For The Week-End”, where a radio programme broadcast from Daventry ("call sign 5GB") was “Favourites of the Naughty Nineties” with Ivan Firth and Phyllis Scott, backed by Mario de Pietro on banjo and mandolin (not both at once, presumably - ah, they knew how to entertain the folks at home gathered around the cat’s whisker and crystal in them days ...)

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Posted: 07 February 2008 05:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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For what it’s worth, Wikipedia says “The term itself began to be used in the 1920s and is believed to have been created by the artist Richard V. Culter, who first released a series of drawings in Life magazine entitled “the Gay Nineties” and later published a book of drawings with the same name.”

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Posted: 07 February 2008 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Richard V. Culter furnished the newspaper drawings published in a couple of papers on 1 April 1923, I suppose the same mentioned by Oecolampadius above.

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Posted: 07 February 2008 07:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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D Wilson - 07 February 2008 05:37 PM

Richard V. Culter furnished the newspaper drawings published in a couple of papers on 1 April 1923, I suppose the same mentioned by Oecolampadius above.

perzakly

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