A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 19, 2012
“Egotism, n: Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen”

"Egotism, n: Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen” has often been incorrectly attributed to Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913), author of the satirical lexicon The Devil’s Dictionary. This authorship is not possible because the New York Times published its first crossword puzzle in 1942—several decades after Bierce’s death. That has not stopped the quotation from being attributed to Bierce on many gift items, such as T-shirts and mouse pads.

A remark about doing “cross-word puzzles with a fountain pen containing indelible ink” was cited in print in January 1925. “A real optimist is one who works out a cross-word puzzle with a fountain pen” was cited in print in March 1928. The word “optimist” was replaced with “egotism” in 1970 and “egotist” in 1972. The incorrect Ambrose Bierce credit has been given on Internet websites since the 2000s.


Wikipedia: The New York Times crossword puzzle
The New York Times crossword puzzle is a daily puzzle found in The New York Times and online at the paper’s website.
(...)
History
While crosswords became popular in the early 1920s, it was not until 1942 that The New York Times (which initially regarded crosswords as frivolous, calling them “a primitive form of mental exercise") began running a crossword in its Sunday edition. The first puzzle ran on Sunday, February 15, 1942; the motivating impulse for the Times to finally run the puzzle (which took over 20 years even though its publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, was a longtime crossword fan) appears to have been the bombing of Pearl Harbor; in a memo dated December 18, 1941, an editor conceded that the puzzle deserved space in the paper, considering what was happening elsewhere in the world and that readers might need something to occupy themselves during blackouts. The puzzle proved popular, and Sulzberger himself would author a Times puzzle before the year was out. In 1950, the crossword became a daily feature

BrainyQuote
Egotism, n: Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen.
Ambrose Bierce

ThinkExist.com
“Egotism, n: Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen.”
Ambrose Bierce quotes (American Writer, Journalist and Editor, 1842-1914)

GoodQuotes.com
Ambrose Bierce Quotes
“Egotism, n: Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen.”

QuotesNSayings.net
Egotism, n: Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen. - Ambrose Bierce

9 January 1925, Cumberland (MD) Evening Times, pg. 22, col. 2:
F. G. announces his discovery of the man whose belief in his own infallibility approaches the sublime. He is the chap who works his cross-word puzzles with a fountain pen containing indelible ink.—Kansas City Star.

4 March 1925, San Diego (CA) Union, pg. 4, col. 6:
A tip to cross-word puzzle fiends:

Never work your puzzles with a fountain pen. Most ink erasers are unsatisfactory.

5 March 1928, Rockford (IL) Republic, pg. 12, col. 3:
A real optimist is one who works out a cross-word puzzle with a fountain pen.

15 November 1928, Morning World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 14, col. 2:
THE LIMIT.
(Michigan Gargoyle.)
“Is he conceited?”
“Conceited! Why, he works cross-word puzzles with a pen!”

21 May 1946, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Main Street Meditations” by Eleanor Clarage, pg. 9, col. 6:
A definition occurs to me, apropos of all this: the height of self-confidence is working a crossword puzzle with a pen, rather than a pencil.

27 May 1946, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Main Street Meditations” by Eleanor Clarage, pg. 11, col. 4:
“Please,” protests Dorothy Miller, who admits being a crossword puzzle fan. “Don’t say that doing a puzzle with a pen is the height of self-confidence. My father, who has watched me do them that way, says I’m merely an optimist.”

19 April 1955, The Plain Dealer, pg. 16, col. 4:
Dear Wes: My definition of an optimist is a person who works a crossword puzzle with a pen.

22 March 1961, The Echo (Richardson, TX), sec. 2, pg. 2, col. 3:
OPTIMIST
“You say that he is real sure of himself?”
“I’ll say he is. he even does crossword puzzles with a pen.”
Mrs. Leonard E. Smith

31 August 1970, Estherville (IA) Daily News, pg. 2, col. 5:
MY HUSBAND CLAIMS “the height of egotism is working a crossword puzzle with a ballpoint pen.”

30 November 1972, Milford (IA) Mail, pg. 2, col. 6:
As Paul says, “Anyone who works a crossword puzzle with a ballpoint pen is an egotist.”

Google Groups: alt.sports.basbeall.cleve-indians
FM
1/6/01
(...)
Egotism, n:
Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen.
Egotist, n:
A person of low taste, more interested in himself than me.
-- Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • (0) Comments • Thursday, July 19, 2012 • Permalink