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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from October 14, 2012
“Silence is golden; duct tape is silver”

"Speech is silver; silence is golden” is an old proverb that means that it’s often better to say nothing at all. “Silence is golden, (but) duct tape is silver” is a jocular saying that has been printed on many gift items, such as posters, T-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers, often with the duct tape shown over someone’s mouth. The saying means that one should shut up or be made to shut up.

“Silence is Golden but Duct Tape is Silver” buttons have been cited since at least March 2006. “Silence Is Golden But Duct Tape Is Silver” is the title of a song on the album The Restoration of Chaos & Order (2006), by All Against Authority.

Wikipedia: Duct tape
Duct tapeduck tape, is cloth- or scrim-backed pressure sensitive tape often coated with polyethylene. There are a variety of constructions using different backings and adhesives. One variation is gaffer tape designed to be cleanly removed, while duct tape is not. Another variation is heat-resistant duct tape useful for sealing heating and ventilation (HVAC) ducts, produced because standard duct tape fails quickly when used on heating ducts. Duct tape is generally silver or black but also available in other colors.

In 1942 Revolite, then a division of Johnson & Johnson, originally developed an adhesive tape made from a rubber-based adhesive applied to a durable duck cloth backing. This tape resisted water and was used as sealing tape on ammunition cases during World War II.

Wiktionary: silence is golden
Calque of the Latin silentium est aurum (“silence is gold”), from silentium (“silence”) and est (“it is”) the third person form of sum (“I am”) and aurum (“gold”).
silence is golden

1. Peace and quiet have great value.
2. Often the best choice is to say nothing.

The Phrase Finder
Silence is golden
The first example of it in English is from the poet Thomas Carlyle, who translated the phrase from German in Sartor Resartus, 1831, in which a character expounds at length on the virtues of silence:

“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule. Not William the Silent only, but all the considerable men I have known, and the most undiplomatic and unstrategic of these, forbore to babble of what they were creating and projecting. Nay, in thy own mean perplexities, do thou thyself but hold thy tongue for one day: on the morrow, how much clearer are thy purposes and duties; what wreck and rubbish have those mute workmen within thee swept away, when intrusive noises were shut out! Speech is too often not, as the Frenchman defined it, the art of concealing Thought; but of quite stifling and suspending Thought, so that there is none to conceal. Speech too is great, but not the greatest. As the Swiss Inscription says: Sprecfien ist silbern, Schweigen ist golden (Speech is silvern, Silence is golden); or as I might rather express it: Speech is of Time, Silence is of Eternity.”

That fuller version - ‘speech is silver; silence is golden’, is still sometimes used, although the shorter form is now more common.

OCLC WorldCat record
The restoration of chaos & order
Publisher: Van Nuys, CA : Hopeless, 2006.
Edition/Format:  Music CD : CD audio : Popular music : English
Performer(s): Against All Authority.
Description: 1 sound disc : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
The restoration of chaos & order --
Sweet televised destruction --
All ages show tonight --
Collecting scars --
Radio waves --
Silence is golden but duct tape is silver --

By jnhkrawczyk
Jill N. Hamilton-Krawczyk
This photo was taken on March 19, 2006 using a Nikon D200.
Silence is Golden but Duct Tape is Silver buttons

30 April 2006, Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution, “Sunday Vent,” pg. D2:
Silence is golden; duct tape is silver. Cynthia McKinney should try either or both. They work.

Google Books
Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree:
The Search for My Melungeon Ancestors

By Lisa Alther
New York, NY: Arcade Publishing, Inc.: Distributed by Hachette Book Group USA
Pg. 215:
A bumper sticker on a cranberry Altima parked next to mine reads SILENCE IS GOLDEN, BUT DUCT TAPE IS SILVER.

Google Books
Things Are Gonna Get Ugly
By Hillary Homzie
New York, NY: Aladdin M!X (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)
Pg. 160:
She can’t tolerate the idea of anything about him—his weird T-shirts—today a black one with a skull that says SILENCE IS GOLDEN. DUCT TAPE IS SILVER.

New York (NY) Times
Take Her at Face Value
Published: February 9, 2012
Keep your suspicions to yourself. Remember: Silence is golden and duct tape is silver, in case you cannot trust yourself not to push Baby Sister’s buttons.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • (0) Comments • Sunday, October 14, 2012 • Permalink