[PW] Quotation: There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper . . .

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Thu May 21 09:09:21 PDT 2020

Back on February 15, 2015 Claudia Suzanne sent an inquiry to the
Project Wombat list about a quotation attributed to the famous English
art critic John Ruskin. Several list members participated in the
discussion thread. Now, the Quote Investigator website has an article
on this topic available here:


The central result in the QI article is a new citation dated February
1901 in “Profitable Advertising: The Advertiser’s Trade Journal”.
Based on this citation, a correspondent named J. A. Richards is the
top candidate for creator of the target quotation. He sent a letter of
disagreement to the journal editor who had advocated the display of
prices within advertisements. Richards believed that a focus on prices
was undesirable for the sellers of quality goods.

[ref] 1901 February, Profitable Advertising: The Advertiser’s Trade
Journal, Volume 10, Number 9, Section: From “P.A’s” Point of View,
(Excerpt from a letter to the editor written J. A. Richards of New
York), Quote Page 636, Boston, Massachusetts. (HathiTrust Full View)


[Begin excerpt]
While you talk about the quality of your wares, you have your cheaper
competitor where he cannot touch you. The breach between you is longer
than his arm. When you begin to talk about prices, you are absolutely
at his mercy. There is hardly anything in the world that some man
cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people
who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey. This is the
doctrine of commercial foreordination, against which it is useless to
[End excerpt]

Additional details are available within the QI article.
Feedback welcome,

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