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Commodity of Brown Paper

(A). Rubbish served as make-weight; worthless stock; goods palmed off on the inexperienced. In most auctions the buyer of a lot has a fair share of the commodity of brown paper. Rubbish given to supplement a loan.

“Here's young Master Rash! he's in for a commodity of brown paper and old ginger, nine-score and seventeen pounds [i.e. 197, a part of the advance being old ginger and brown paper].”

Shakespeare: Measure for Measure, iv. 3.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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