26 November 2011

What are "city sevens" ?

I encountered this sentence last night while reading an otherwise unremarkable nineteenth-century science fiction story ("The Clock That Went Backwards," by Edward Page Mitchell, 1852-1927):
"Aunt Gertrude's will left me her bank and gas stocks, real estate, railroad bonds, and city sevens, and gave Harry the clock."
The term is a new one for me.  When I tried to look it up this morning, the search results were cluttered with rugby references, which would not be relevant to this story.  I'm hoping someone reading this blog will have better knowledge of Victorian terminology.

Addendum:  This is just classic - two answers within an hour of my post.  :.)

per snotty: bonds which pay 7% interest (link goes to an archived page of the NYT).

confirmed by Matt, who used a Google Books search to find links to Cincinnati (and other) city bonds.

Thank you, guys.


  1. i'd say: bonds issued by cities which paid 7% interest. cf http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F30F15FB38541B7493C7A91782D85F4C8684F9 the right-hand column has two ads for city sevens

  2. a search on Google Books


    also pulls up banking-related material, this first hit from 1878


    Which mentions not just Sevens, but sixes and fives, for cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh

  3. if the character is religious lots of sevens and cities and buidings got together so perhaps realestate. '7' is also a generalised dozen - so again possibly properties.

    you could try this http://slangcity.com/ask_ac_archive/balling%20_the_%20jack.htm

  4. It would be awesome if you could get 7% on muni bonds these days. They are often tax exempt too.


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