|San Francisco Dandy ca 1880-1890|
Having always associated the word “dude” with city slickers in American westerns, I was surprised to come across the term in Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat. (Read about it here. Read it online here.) The earliest usage I find in Google Books (alas, I’m traveling without my OED or Webster’s) is 1883, although this source cites Terence.
The phenomenon is recorded in many 19th century American publications, like Puck, as well as here in the July 1883 Phrenological Journal and Life Illustrated. Unlike many other American slang terms, this one seems to have quickly crossed the Atlantic.
Dudes and dandies are often confused, especially by people who don’t approve of men who take what seems to be too much interest in their appearance. But dudes have more negative associations. They’re the cads and bounders and mashers, the card sharps and other well-dressed or overdressed types one oughtn’t to fully trust.
Most of us are familiar with cigar store Indians, but may not be aware that many other types of figures stood at the doors of these shops. The dude and dandy shown here are two of the many cigar store figures on display at at the American Art & Carousel Gallery of the Heritage Museums and Gardens (where I saw the Cars of the Future).
|Dude ca 1880|