WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Counterfeit Crank

While Francis Goodchild makes nice inside the church, Tom Idle makes coin dicing amongst the graves outside this week in Plate 3. One could argue Tom is not exactly loafing around: relieving others of their blunt can be hard work, especially if you’re not an honest gambler. That takes some skill and effort. Be it of a questionable nature.

Counterfeit Crank

A general cheat, assuming all sorts of characters; one counterfeiting the falling sickness.

Industry and Idleness, Plate 3: The Idle ‘Prentice at Play in the Church Yard, During Diving Service, by William Hogarth, 30 September 1747, Tate Museum.

From the Tate Museum description:

Idle is shown to be a gambler and a cheat. Clearly at home with the criminal underclass represented by his grotesque companions, he sprawls over a coffin signalling his disrespectful and progressively brutalised character. The skulls and bones scattered on the ground presage his fate and remind us of the biblical ‘Day of Judgement’. At the same time he seems oblivious to the punishment that is about to be served by the man wielding a stick.

From the Wikipedia description:

In this case, Tom Idle is shown doing the exact opposite [of Francis Goodchild]: gambling and cheating with some pence on top of a tomb in the churchyard. The foreground is strewn with spare bones and skulls, and behind him a beadle is about to strike him with a cane for his insolence and tardiness. Curiously, the beadle looks to be winking at the viewer of this work.

Also note that the frame is reversed: Now the mace, etc. are on the left of the engraving.

Proverbs CH: XIX Ve: 29
Judgments are prepared for scorners
& stripes for the back of Fools


Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.


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