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What is the origin of "matchstick men" for con artists, as in the title of the new Nicholas Cage movie?

Question #38840. Asked by tjoebigham.

Answer has 4 votes
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20 year member
2091 replies

Answer has 4 votes.

Currently voted the best answer.
I've yet to find a reference but I can only think of one connection at this minute.

I don't think they exist anymore (perhaps rarely) but there used to be street sellers, usually war veterans and blind, (because of their war experiences) that would sell matches from a tray suspended with a strap around their neck. The archetypal movie "blind street seller" would have a tin mug sitting on the corner of his tray, be wearing dark glasses, a white cane over his arm and perhaps a sign hanging from the front of the tray saying "3 chilren and a wife to support".

The con artist side of this is easy to picture.
Get dressed up in similar clothes, dark glasses, white stick etc and pretend to be the blind war hero.

Sep 16 2003, 5:15 PM
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