To the Editor of the Argus:
Sir – Allow me to point out to your correspondent “J Sibbald” that the derivation of the expression “not worth a tinker’s dam” is this.
In Flanders during the middle ages a “dam” was the smallest coin of the existing currency, and as tinkers in those days were itinerant, and little better than vagrants, their services were generally rewarded by a “dam” and as no other tradesman would take such small remuneration it became the custom to say if anything was of very small value it was not worth a tinker’s dam.
I noticed recently in an article in one of the magazines the expression “not worth a tinker’s malediction” the writer evidently not caring to use the word “dam” for fear of a “swear word” offending some of his readers.
- Yours &c, J. W. THOMAS
Readers are cordially invited to provide suitably colourful explanations for the expressions “flash as a rat with a gold tooth” or “cunning as a shithouse rat”. Or any other expression of your own choice.