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 November 28, 2012
“Horn broke—watch for finger” (bumper sticker)

"Horn broke(n)—watch for finger” has been a popular bumper sticker slogan since at least 1995. The authorship of the humorous saying is unknown.

While “giving people the finger” is certainly not unique to New York City, it is part of city lore. New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller (1908-1979) famously gave the Rockefinger/Rockefeller Salute to hecklers in 1976.


Wikipedia: Finger (gesture)
United States
Linguist Jesse Sheidlower traces the gesture’s development in the United States to the 1890s. According to anthropologist Desmond Morris, the gesture probably came to the United States via Italian immigrants. The first documented appearance of the finger in the United States was in 1886 when Old Hoss Radbourn, a baseball pitcher for the Boston Beaneaters, was photographed giving it to a member of the rival New York Giants.

14 November 1995, Northwest Florida Daily News (FL), Bill Campbell column, pg. 1B, col. 1:
We’ll close on a lighter note, thanks to a bumper sticker seen by a reader: “Horn Broken. Watch for Finger.”

Google Books
The Million-Dollar Tattoo
By Earl W. Emerson
New York, NY: Ballantine Books
1996
Pg. 133:
There was a motto on the license holder: HORN BROKE—WATCH FOR FINGER.

University at Buffalo (NY)
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 21:10:15 -0400 (EDT)
From: DragonTear Humor List
(...)
Horn Broken.  Watch for Finger.

Google Books
Mountain Bike! Florida:
A Guide to the Classic Trails

By Steve Jones
Birmingham, AL: Menasha Ridge Press
1997
Pg. ?:
I knew I had to drive by a new set of rules when I began seeing bumper stickers like “Horn Broke— Watch For Finger” and “Keep Honking— I’m Reloading!” inside the back windows of cars.

Porsche Club of America
Hysterical Rambings
Howard Wasserman

June, 1997
(...)
Bumper sticker - “Horn broke, watch for finger”

Google Books
Napalm & Silly Putty
By George Carlin
New York, NY: Hyperion
2001
Pg. ?:
Actual bumper sticker: HORN BROKE—WATCH FOR FINGER

Google Books
The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said
By Robert Byrne
New York, NY: Touchstone (Simon & Schuster)
2012
1,665
HORN DOESN’T WORK. WATCH FOR FINGER. —Bumper sticker

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityTransportation • Wednesday, November 28, 2012 • Permalink