Monday, October 14, 2013

The Dude & the Dandy

Monday, October 14, 2013
San Francisco Dandy ca 1880-1890
Loretta reports:

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.

Dandy detail

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
Dude detail

The Dandy, which is reported to have stood in the lobby of San Francisco's Cliff House from 1901 to 1969, is carved from solid piece of wood, possibly reused ship mast. The Dude stood in front of a tobacco shop in Emporia, Kansas, selling Battle Ax Plug Tobacco.


Hels said...

When Henri Fantin-Latour painted Édouard Manet as a dandy (1867, Art Institute of Chicago), I was not sure what to make of the image. Certainly he was young, handsome, carefully groomed and smartly dressed. My best guess was that it meant sophisticated, cultivated and uber cool, almost detached.

Helena said...

I was interested to see the context in which "dude" appeared in Three Men in a Boat. I've word-searched both in Goggle Books and in the online version you linked to, but get a response in both that the word isn't found.

Please could you quote the sentence, and tell me which paragraph it's in?

It's amazing how timeless the book is, in many ways - I always think of it when I come across hypochondria (in myself and others). When I get housemaid's knee I'll know that the end is nigh!

Helena said...

*"paragraph" in my previous comment should read "chapter"!

LorettaChase said...

I had the same aggravating experience with Google Books (which has several versions online!) and ended up searching my Kindle. It's in the section on Maidenhead, not quite 2/3 through the book. "It is the town of showy hotels, patronised chiefly by dudes and ballet girls." Discovered I'd bookmarked it because of the aforementioned surprise.

Helena said...

Thank you! About all one can derive from that is that it is uncomplimentary. But how odd it looks!

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