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 September 11, 2017
“What kind of musical instrument can you use for fishing?"/"The cast-a-net.”

"Castanet” (a percussion instrument) has nothing to do with fishing, but the “cast-a-net” pun was used in the New York (NY) Daily Tribune in 1850. “With what musical instrument would you catch fish? Castanet (cast a net)” was printed in many 1852 newspapers.

A popular form of the fishing riddle that uses the pun is:

Q: What kind of musical instrument can you use for fishing?
A: The cast-a-net.



Wikipedia: Castanets
Castanets are a percussion instrument (idiophone), used in Kalo, Moorish, Ottoman, ancient Roman, Italian, Spanish, Sephardic, Swiss, and Portuguese music. The instrument consists of a pair of concave shells joined on one edge by a string. They are held in the hand and used to produce clicks for rhythmic accents or a ripping or rattling sound consisting of a rapid series of clicks. They are traditionally made of hardwood (chestnut; Spanish: castaño), although fibreglass is becoming increasingly popular.

In practice a player usually uses two pairs of castanets. One pair is held in each hand, with the string hooked over the thumb and the castanets resting on the palm with the fingers bent over to support the other side. Each pair will make a sound of a slightly different pitch.

Chronicling America
4 January 1850, The Daily Crescent (New Orleans, LA), pg. 2, col. 4:
A GOOD PUN—The N. Y. Tribune, speaking of the custom prevalent among German fishermen, who attach small bells to their shad fishing nets, says that our own fishermen in the spring will try the cast-a-net system, as the one most likely to be successful.

11 February 1852, Morning True Democrat (Cleveland, OH), pg. 3, col. 3:
With what musical instrument would you catch fish? Castanet (cast a net).

10 June 1852, The Maine Farmer, “Conundrums,” pg 4, col. 5:
With what musical instrument would you catch fish? Ans. Cast-a-net.

Google Books
Historical Sketches of the Angling Literature of All Nations
By Robert Blakey,
London, UK: John Russell Smith
1856
Pg. 158:
With what musical instrument, would you catch fish ? — Castanet (cast a net).

Google Books
February 1868, Arthur’s Home Magazine (Philadelphia, PA), “Conundrums,” pg. 121, col. 2:
What musical instrument invites you to fish?—Cast-a-net (castanet).

Google Books
1700 Conundrums Worth Knowing
By Edith B. Ordway
New York, NY: G. Sully
1915
Pg. 161:
What musical instrument invites you to fish? Cast-a-net (castanet).

Google Books
Biggest Riddle Book in the World
By Joseph Rosenbloom
Illustrations by Joyce Behr
New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.
1976
Pg. 39:
What musical instrument from Spain helps you fish?
A cast-a-net (castanet).

24 December 1997, The Sun. (London, UK), “Your Xmas crackers,” pg. 6:
Which musical instrument is used for fishing?
The cast-a-net.

Google Groups: alt.humor.puns
Puns of the Weak 07-18-03
Stan Kegel
7/18/03
(...)
What musical instrument from Spain helps you fish?
A cast-a-net (Joseph Rosenbloom)

Google Books
The Good Sports Joke Book
By Paul M. Miller
Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing
2004
Pg. 87:
What Spanish musical instrument helps you fish? A cast-a-net [castanet].

Twitter
Bollywood Sargam‏
@bollywoodsargam
Fishing jokes - 4911 Joke: What kind of musical instrument can you use for fishing? The cast-a-net. .... http://tinyurl.com/l3ujyn
4:30 PM - 8 Jul 2009

Twitter
Lucky Score‏
@LuckyScoreNet
What kind of musical
instrument can you
use for fishing?
The cast-a-net.
#Joke from #FishingJokes in #Jokes, #Humor and #Satire
2:49 AM - 12 Jul 2017

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMusic/Dance/Theatre/Film • Monday, September 11, 2017 • Permalink