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I do have a yh half sov I found it the other day but any other value would be great (that a john cooke and sons )

IMG_20230124_0004.jpg

Edited by copper123

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Know your onions'?

To be experienced in or knowledgeable about a subject.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Know your onions'?

The English grammarian and lexicographer C. T. (Charles Talbut) Onions was an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary from 1895 and continued to write reference works throughout a long and distinguished career. His last work was The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, 1966, which was published a year after his death. If I knew as much etymology as he did I could certainly claim to 'know my onions', and it is tempting to assume that this is where the phrase originated.

Know your onionsIf the 'onions' referred to in the phrase is indeed human rather than vegetable, there is another Mr. Onions that could be our man. S. G. Onions (they were strong on initials in those days) created sets of coins which were issued to English schools from 1843 onwards. These were teaching aids intended to help children learn £.s.d. (pounds, shillings and pence). They looked similar to real coins and had inscriptions like '4 Farthings make 1 Penny' or, as in the example pictured, '12 Pence make 1 shilling'. We can imagine that 'knowing your Onions' might be coined, so to speak, in those circumstances.

The first known use of 'know your onions' in print, in the 1920s, tends to argue against either of the above men being involved. While it is true that the phrase originated at a time when C. T. Onions had established a reputation, the match between the phrase and his name is just a coincidence. Know your onions is in fact an American phrase. There are many references to it in print there from the 1920s onward, but none in the UK or elsewhere until the middle of the century; for example, this from Harper's Magazine, March 1922:

"Mr. Roberts knows his onions, all right."

Another example comes soon afterwards, in The Lima News, May 1923:

"The Columbus statement declares that the league is ready to give the Donahey boom every aid and comfort. Of course! Why not? Governor Donahey knows his onions..."

Know your onionsOther phrases that refer to knowing - 'know the ropes', 'doesn't know s*** from Shinola' etc. allude to specific items as the focus of the knowledge. Other 1920s variants of 'know your onions' are 'know your oil/oats/apples' etc. The only one that caught on and is still in common use is 'know your onions'. So, why onions? Well, as the citation above asks - why not? Explanations that relate the phrase to knowledgeable vegetable gardeners, or even to C. T. or S. G. Onions, are just trying too hard. 1920s America was a breeding ground for wacky phrases (see the bee's knees for some examples) and this is just another of those.

See other phrases that were coined in the USA.

 

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LOL    well myth and etymology ...sometimes these things can stick around for decades before they are applied.....  I am going to stick with coins ....even if toys...as the source ....

 

 

I am in need of the half crown and the Crown  and half Sov  well quite a lot of them really LOL  perhaps I shall not bother too much with them....

Edited by DrLarry

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4 hours ago, copper123 said:

Very kind - I accept your offer - I will of course send you back something of about equal value

A pic up from the York coin fair this last weekend - almost certainly a Moore counter issued for use in schools which were starting to take off at this time due to a health interest in education in the 1850's

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the only toy coin I have! the reverse says 12 PENCE MAKE ONE SHILLING

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I think the problem with the other denominations below the 12 pennies make one shilling is the age 1840s and the size shilling is 13mm;sixpence 10mm; groat 8mm; farthing 11.5mm. I am sure they got easily lost.  Rogers says that they are reported to have presented in a wire mesh bag. Page 31 section 09 the reference taken from Magney.  I'm not sure if any examples are extant. 

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16 hours ago, copper123 said:

I do have a yh half sov I found it the other day but any other value would be great (that a john cooke and sons )

IMG_20230124_0004.jpg

They only made the half Sov   John Cooke .....It was an advertising token of sorts I think 

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