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Cash on the nail

Posted by ESC on December 27, 2000

In Reply to: Pay on the nail posted by ESC on December 22, 2000

: : Can someone enlighten me as to the meaning and or derivation of the phrase "Cash on the nail"
: : I assume it is related to "cash on the barrelhead" but that is just a conjecture.

CASH ON THE NAIL - "Immediate payment. From the English sea port of Bristol where in 1552 four brass pillars, or 'nails' were placed in front of the Council House for the convenience of merchants exchanging money. Business was discussed and money was laid down and counted on the nail. The same brass nails can still be seen today outside the Exchange in Bristol; other nails exist in the Corn Exchange in Liverpool." From "Salty Dog Talk: The Nautical Origins of Everyday Expressions" by Bill Beavis and Richard G. McCloskey (Sheridan House, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1995. First published in Great Britain, 1983).

This is from a previous discussion:
: Can anyone tell me the meaning and/or origin of the phrase " to pay on the nail ".

: : Down on the nail; Pay down on the nail. In ready money. The Latin ungulus (from unguis) means a shot or reckoning, hence ungulum dare, to pay one's reckoning.

: : In the centre of The Limerick Stock Exchange is a pillar with a circular plate of copper about three feet in diameter, called The Nail, on which the earnest of all stock-exchange bargains has to be paid.
: : A similar custom prevailed at Bristol, where were four pillars, called nails, in front of the Exchange for a similar purpose. In Liverpool Exchange there is a plate of copper called The Nail, on which bargains are settled.

: True, but these were only permanent versions of portable "nails" carried around medieval fairs in earlier Anglo Saxon times in England.

See also: the meaning and origin of 'cash on the nail'.