Sunday, April 24, 2011

like scissors and thumbscrews

Willie's first sentence in this ad from July 22, 1950 appears to come directly from "Two Years Before the Mast" - originally a memoir in book form but now in handy blog format. And the entry I link to, appropriately, has a post on whaling along with an illustration.

"Deckie" is short for deck hand, and according to the 1919 edition of Notes & Queries (still being published to this day, since 1849) :
"DRINK BY WORD OF MOUTH" - This saying was in common use here some sixty years ago. Often a bottle of beer came into a hayfield unexpectedly. A search would be made under every coat and shawl lying on the ground for a glass or mug to drink from. Should this search prove unsuccessful and no small receptacle be found to pour the beverage into, then it was said "We must drink by word of mouth." This meant to drink from the bottle by turns, which naturally gave a great advantage to the old toper accustomed to absorb his liquor from the bottle.
The origin of the saying was probably the Fleet prison, about 9 miles west of our town; this this notorious locality would make it of Cockney derivation.
It has some authority as used by Thos. Shadwell (who succeeded Dryden as Poety Laureat) in his comedy "The Squire of Alsatia." His characters in Act V. sc. i. speak thus: -

But I'll go fetch some Cherry Brandy, and that will comfort us. Here's the bottle, let's drink by Word of Mouth.

Your Cherry Brandy is most sovereign and edifying.

Most exceedingly comfortable after our Temple picking.

My copy of the play was printed for James Knapton at the Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1699. Shadwell died in 1692.

Barking, as anybody who has read the Heavens to Mergatroyd blog entry from July 2007 will know, is " a suburban town in east London, England and the main district of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham."

But being the wry sophisticate I am, the name "Barking" cracks me up every time.

After 1950 the variety of Willie ads falls off precipitously. Throughout the 40s there were several new Willie ads every year, but after 1950 only two or three ads are used again and again. I have nine more unique Willie ads after this one, but I hope I find at least a few new ones before the end of the Willie run.