Record of this sport goes back at least to 1583 where mention is made (see below) of oyster shells as well as stones. Oyster shells, however, are not permitted according to 1972 Winter Rules Committee Rule I, section 3aiii. Tradition holds that the sport was begun by an English king who skipped sovereigns across the Thames. George Washington is thought to have popularized it in America by skipping a stone across a river.- (True, legend has it that this was a silver dollar, but George was close with a buck and would never have done such a thing.) The following reports are offered for your edification and were found by Marsha Grimes of the Lake Superior State College Library staff.
DEFINITION FOR THE LAYMEN
Ducks & Drakes – “To make ducks and drakes” with one’s money is to squander it recklessly and foolishly. The allusion is to the custom, with boys, of taking flat stones and throwing them horizontally along the surface of the water in such a way as to cause them to skim along the surface, touching it and then rising from it several times in succession. The first time the stone rises it is called a “duck”, the second time, a “drake”, and so on, alternately. The meaning of the expression is, of course, that the spendthrift uses his money in a reckless way, even as the boys use stones to make ducks and drakes. – Five Thousand Facts & Figures
DEFINITION ALA OXFORD
Ducks & Drakes – (from the motion of the stone over a watery surface.)
1. A pastime consisting in throwing a flat stone or the like over the surface of water so as to cause it to rebound or skip as many times as possible before sinking. Chiefly in phr.,to make a duck and drake, to play (at) duck and drake. (Often in pl)
1583 J. Higins tr. Junius’ Nomenciator (N.), A kind of sport or play with an oister shell or stone throwne into the water, and making circles yer it sinke, etc. It is called a ducke and a drake, and a halfe-penie cake. c 1626 Dick of Devon. i, ii, in Bullen 0. Pl. II. 14 The poorest ship-boy Might on the Thames make duckes and drakes with pieces Of eight fetchd out of Spayne. 1730 Swift Vind. Carteret Wks. 1755 V. II. 188 Scipio and Lelius . . often played at duck and drake with smooth stones on a river. 1829 Nat. Philos., Hydrostatics i. 2 (U.K.S.) The common play of making ducks and drakes, that is, throwing a.flat stone in a direction nearly horizontal against a surface of water, and thus making it rebound, proves the water to be elastic. 1842 P. Parley’s Ann. III. 15 A shot made a duck- and-drake in the water. b. attrib., as duck-and-drake fashion, sort.
1858 A. W. Drayson Sport. S. Africa 304 Some- times with a duck and drake sort of progression they (fish) skipped along over the top of the pool. 1893 Boy’s Own Paper Jan. 183/2 A cannon ball….came Skipping at a long range over the water ‘duck and drake’fashion.
2. fig. In phrases: To make ducks and drakes of or with, to play (at) duck and drake with: to throw away idly or carelessly to play idly with; to handle or use recklessly; to squander.
c 1600 Tirnon v. v, I will make duckes and drakes with this my golde . .. Before your fingers touch a piece thereof. 1768-74 Tucker Lt. Nat. 1852) II. 164 A miser has it in his power to make ducks and drakes of his guineas. 18 1 0 Wellington in Gurw. Desp. VII. 32 His Majesty’s Government never intended to give over the British army to the Governors of this Kingdom to make ducks and drakes with. 1872 Tennyson Last Toumanent 344 Ye . . grew So witty that ye play’d at ducks and drakes With Arthur’s vows. 1883 Stevenson Treas. lsl. 1. vi, Finding the money to play duck and drake with ever after. b. Idle play, reckless squandering.
1614 J. Cooke Tu Quoque in Hazl. Dodsley XI. 212 This royal Caesar doth regard no cash; Has thrown away as much in ducks and drakes As would have bought some 50,000 capons. a 1678 Marvell Poems, Char. Holland, Nature . . Would throw their land away at duck and drake. Hence DUCK-AND- DRAKE v. trans., to make ‘ducks and drakes’ of; to throw away idly.
1700-32 Gentl. Instructed 18 (D.) I would neither fawn on money for money’s sake, nor duck and drake it away for a frolick. Ibid. 116 Is it then no harm… like children, (to) duck and drake away a treasure able to buy Paradise? – OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY