Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Boots By The Quart"


A Series of Remarkable Signs That Created Great Astonishment.

In South street, New York, there is an Italian who runs a Yankee notion stand. He speaks English after a fashion, but cannot read a word of it. This fact has made him an easy prey for a heartless joker.

His stock of goods includes almost everything from peanuts and chewing gum to suspenders and waterproof jumpers. Until recently he had displayed no placards, giving the prices of his wares, but the other day a man offered to paint all the signs that the Italian needed free of charge. The offer was joyfully accepted. The signs were painted and placed in position. Crowds were attracted to the spot, and visions of sudden wealth danced before the Italian's eyes. Here are some of the inscriptions painted by the mountebank:

"Cape Ann Boots! Only 50 cents a quart."

"Chewing Gum! All kinds, only 2 cents a yard."

They were prominently displayed near the top of the stand, but they were eclipsed by these a little lower down:

"Peanuts, raw or roasted, $2 a pint. Must be eaten here."

"Suspenders baked, fried or boiled, with edible buckles, 20 cents a plate."

The placard that won the most admiration and of which the innocent merchant was particularly proud was an oblong affair in gorgeous colors. It read:

Gold plated brushes, 5 cents
Diamond studs, 2 cents
Collar buttons, $10 each
All pocketknives, free

A few minutes after the signs had been put into place an old sailor was trying to buy two quarts of Cape Ann boots for $1, and the Italian was getting black in the face trying to make him understand that the boots were "Four dol' a pair." Many similar scenes were witnessed. Finally a sympathetic friend exposed the fraud to the victim, and the pasteboards were removed. — New York Recorder.

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