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don't take any wooden nickels


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circa 1930s. Depression-era expression relating to privately minted wooden tokens which resembled coins but were used as commemoratives or promotional items.


don't take any wooden nickels

  1. (US, dated) Do not permit yourself be cheated or duped; do not be naive.
    • 1938, "Macy's College Shop" [display advertisement], New York Times, 14 Aug, p. 19:
      For conversation pieces . . . the whacky necklace called "Don't take any wooden nickels!" at $1.83 (designed by Martha Sleeper).
    • 1951, "Folklore in the News: Cliché Strip," Western Folklore, vol. 10, no. 1 (Jan), p. 84:
      H. T. Webster's comic strip, "The Timid Soul," in the Oakland Tribune of September 10, 1950 used the tendency to repeat worn phrases as the subject for the hero's good intentions. The following are recorded: . . . Don't take any wooden nickels.