Thursday, August 11, 2011

Duelling for Fun in NYC in 1909

spotted at Criminal Wisdom where so many wonderful things reside.

En 1909 à New York des gens s’amusaient à se tirer dessus dans des duels, ils étaient équipés de manteaux en cuir et de masques pour se protéger et les pistolets étaient chargés avec des balles de cire.

I'll give you a hint, "balles de cire" does not mean wax balls.


  1. "balles de cire" are actually a form of paintball. They are made of wax, which is why it says "Wax Bullets".

  2. If I understand correctly, it refers to a kind of color or paint, enclosed in a wax walled capsule or 'ball' type of ammunition, as in cap and ball.

    What a quaint and quirky post, Laci.

    Shall I translate for the readers, or would you like to do the honors?

    In 1909 New York, folks amuse themselves by holding duels; they are equipped with coats of leather (or 'hide') and masks for protection from the blasts of the pistols loaded with / firing waxy paint balls.

    A rough translation on the fly; I usually have to imerse myself back into french to the point of thinking and dreaming in it, to do my best translating.

  3. Yeah, I guess there's another word in french for bullet. In Italian it's pallottola, which has the word for ball right in it, palla

  4. The origins of the word are the same for pallota in Italian, pellota in Spanish for the origins of our word pellet in English.

    1325–75; Middle English pelet < Middle French pelote < Vulgar Latin *pilotta, diminutive of Latin pila ball. See pill1 , -et

    Word Origin & History


    mid-14c., from O.Fr. pelote "small ball" (11c.), from V.L. *pilotta , dim. of L. pila "ball," perhaps originally "ball of hair," from pilus "hair."

    [C14: from Old French pelote, from Vulgar Latin pilota (unattested), from Latin pila ball]

    I can manage reasonably well to read medieval English and French; understanding etymology and a bit of philology helps.

    1920–25; < French < Latin cērātus waxed, equivalent to cēr ( a ) wax ( see cere) + -ātus -ate1

    Cire is a term for a kind of fabric used in fashionista circles, historically; it is a fairly obscure term for the most part, as an example. "Cire" refers not so much to something made entirely OF wax, but rather to a coating or 'skin' or surface of wax. It tended to be used either with paper, or some thin fabric like silk, so I suspect that these 'balles de cire' were actually formed of some kind of wax paper, wrapped around some sort of softer liquid or gelid core, given the period and the available technology.