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What The Sam Hill Is Going On Around Here?!

 
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Posted 06/21/2014   10:42 pm  Show Profile Check revenuecollector's eBay Listings Bookmark this topic Add revenuecollector to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I wish this were still on the original document, as I'd love to know the context...

The origins of the expression "like Sam Hill" or "What the Sam Hill?" are unclear. The best explanation I've seen posited:

http://www.word-detective.com/080401.html

The explanation of "Sam Hill" is actually pretty simple -- it's an early 19th century American euphemism for "hell" used as an oath. Perhaps due to our Puritan ancestry, Americans have always been especially creative when it comes to inventing linguistic detours around oaths and blasphemies. "Heck," "drat," "darn," "gosh," "jiminy," "gee-whiz" and "goldarn," for example, all started out as euphemisms for exclamations of surprise or rage no newspaper would print and no proper dinner table conversation would tolerate. To digress a bit, I have always wondered whether Walt Disney knew, when he christened his little cartoon creation "Jiminy Cricket," that the name was a rather transparent euphemism for the blasphemous oath "Jesus Christ."

Because the euphemism "Sam Hill" is also a perfectly good real name, many people assume that the phrase must have originally referred to a real person. A reader wrote me several years ago, wondering if he might have uncovered the "original" Sam Hill in the person of Samuel Hill (1857--1931), a lawyer, financier and railroad magnate known in the Northwest U.S. as "the Father of Good Roads." After doing a little checking, however, I can say with certainty that while Mr. Hill may have been famous for many things, he was not the source of this phrase. In fact, "What in the Sam Hill" was in widespread use by 1839, quite a few years before this particular Sam Hill was born.


I'm wondering if the cancel below was a protest against the tax being paid. We'll never know...

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Posted 06/22/2014   07:53 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add I_Love_Stamps to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Probably not but amusing anyway. I love the penmanship and that revenue stamp is great stuff!
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Posted 06/22/2014   08:59 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add stallzer to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'm more curious about what "like " pertains too. I'd assume that Sam Hill might actually be a real name in this case. Where do you find these neat little items ? Great margins too.
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Posted 06/22/2014   09:12 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revcollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Remember, this might not be the complete cancel. We don't know how or when this was used, there might have been more stamps and several more words written.
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Posted 06/22/2014   09:31 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add 3Dadeo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Your idea that it may be a protest against the tax seems plausible.

"You want more taxes from me? Well like, Sam Hill"

Interesting little mystery.
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Posted 06/22/2014   10:20 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Rileysan to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"Like, gag me with a spoon!"

Who knew that 80s valley-girl lingo originated during the 19th century?!?

Brian
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Posted 06/22/2014   11:57 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ikeyPikey to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Darned First Amendment.

Q/ Is it amazing how many philatelic items bear political messages or, considering how much mail has been sent in the USA over the centuries, how *little* mail bears a political message? Is this another Goldilocks Conundrum?

http://goscf.com/t/6603 ... another example: the NOCPLA 'tax' protest stamps

Addressing the Sam Hill'd revenue stamp (above), is it a cancel (applied by a clerk when the stamp was used to pay a fee) or is it a scribble (applied by a person in an idle moment, and disqualifying the use of the stamp to pay a fee)?

If it was a scribble, then we can imagine that there was a block/strip of stamps, and a more complete sentence was written across the group and that, for some reason, the group was severed. Might have been an 'each one gets one' amongst friends, to memorialize the moment or, more likely, a young collector who wanted to keep one & trade the others.

Q/ Say, Rev, do you have other examples of words penned on revenues as part of a cancel?

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey

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Posted 06/22/2014   12:23 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add revcollector to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
"Addressing the Sam Hill'd revenue stamp (above), is it a cancel (applied by a clerk when the stamp was used to pay a fee) or is it a scribble (applied by a person in an idle moment, and disqualifying the use of the stamp to pay a fee)"?

This question shows a common misconception about the use of documentary revenue stamps. Although the stamps were sold in authorized locations, those locations were often the general store or other local business. Only in the relatively few big cities were there actual revenue offices selling stamps. And the stamps were not applied by those revenue office clerks, only by clerks in the general business application of the word; essentially the taxpayer paid for and applied the stamps. So a "law clerk" or some company employee would apply the stamps in a business location, but in a deal between two private individuals the stamps would be applied by whoever was responsible for them.
In addition, technically the tax was paid when the stamps were purchased, placing them on a document only showed what specific tax was being paid with those specific stamps. It did not matter in the least when they were cancelled; precancelled revenues are well known, for example all printed and many handstamp cancels were done in the sheet to help prevent theft and even many manuscript cancels were done in advance. To be legal they were supposed to have the date and the name or initials of the person or entity that produced the cancel, but this was often ignored. Unless they were needed in some kind of legal action and wound up in court, most documents were never seen by anyone except the specific people who created them.
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