Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 21:33:57 -0500 From: "Barry A. Popik" Subject: "Black Fridays" of Finance "When Black Friday comes I'll stand down by the door And catch the grey men When they dive from the fourteenth floor." --Steely Dan, "Black Friday" I'm getting tired of these corrections. They never even get printed. This is from William Safire's "On Language" column, New York Times Magazine, 23 November 1997: Oct. 19, 1987, was called _Black Monday_ on the analogy of _Black Thursday_ of Oct. 24, 1929, and _Black Tuesday_ of Oct. 29, 1929. These were antedated by _Black Friday_ of Sept. 24, 1869, when Jay Gould drove brokers into bankruptcy with his attempted corner of the gold market. "Black Friday" was a financial phrase long before 1869, but at least Safire got the 1929 dates correct. THE TIMETABLES OF HISTORY by Bernard Grun has "'Black Friday' in New York; U. S. Stock Exchange collapses on Oct. 28." October 28th was a Monday. Christine Ammer's SEEING RED OR TICKLED PINK has, on pages 32-33, "...October 29, 1929, which was dubbed _Black Friday_ and is often considered to mark the start of the Great Depression." October 29th was a Tuesday. This is from the Milwaukee Sentinel, 21 December 1916, pg. 6, cols. 5-6: "BLACK FRIDAYS" OF FINANCE Several of the great financial panics of the past have commenced on a Friday, and this has given rise to one of the pet superstitions of the stock exchanges and bourses of the world--that the sixth day of the week is fraught with ill omen for those engaged in financial operations. The original "Black Friday" occurred 171 years ago, Dec. 6, 1745, in London. On that date tidings reached the metropolis that the pretender, Boonie Prince Charlie, had reached Derby with his forces. Londoners immediately made preparations to fly from the city, and a panic prevailed. It was on that occasion that the Bank of England had its closest call in its long history. The citizens were anxious to take their money with them, and the Bank of England was besieged by an army of depositors. The bank escaped bankruptcy only by the expedient of placing "dummies" in the line to impede genuine depositors, and by paying bona fide depositors in small coins, thus consuming much time. The first "Black Friday" of latter day financial history was in 1866, just a half century ago, and was due to the failure of one of London's largest banking houses. Three years later Wall street had a "Black Friday," due to an attempt to engineer a corner in gold. The worst of all financial "Black Fridays" was that of 1873, when, on Friday, Sept. 18, it seemed that the whole financial structure of the new world had crumbled into ruins.--New York World. While Ammer was mistaken about 1929's "Black Friday," she nonetheless has a more interesting discussion than Safire's column about "Blue Monday." George Gershwin wrote a poorly received one-act opera called _Blue Monday_ (1922). It had only a single performance. Two years later, Gershwin did his best-known work, _Rhapsody in Blue_.