This started innocently enough. Tip Top Liquors at 3012 San Pablo. A cool sign. But – then – without warning – a rabbit hole!
A rabbit hole that turns into a black hole. Oh no! Tip Top. A word. A good word. Let’s see what our friends at OED have to say about tip-top. As a noun, from 1702: “The very top; the highest point or part; the extreme summit.” As an adjective, from 1722: “situated at the very top; very highest; almost always fig. of the highest quality or excellence; first-rate, prime, superlatively good; of persons, belonging to the highest rank or class.”
Fair enough. Good start. I love the OED and its website. I recommend it highly.
That’s what it means. How about how the word was formed? Without getting into the intricacies of linguistics and the dinstinction between morphological reduplication and phonological duplication (spare me!), suffice it to say that tip-top is formed by reduplication, which the OED defines as “a word form produced by repetition of a word or syllable.” I had too much fun gathering and illustrating reduplications – here. What an irrelevant, tangential digression.
Back to Tip Top. I found many many many photos of businesses and products that could not resist Tip Top. Here they are. I present them with a low degree of internal organization and categorization.
Tip Top Bread is a contender for top Tip Top.
There is an Australian Tip Top bread (above), not to be confused with the Ward Baking Company in Brooklyn (below).
Ward gave us Wonder Bread and Hostess Twinkies. Most relevantly, it gave us (a) Tip Top bread and (b) the Brooklyn Tip Tops.
The Tip Tops played in the Federal League from 1914-1915. And then went away.
Afterwards came the Toronto Tip Tops, a softball team that excelled in the late 1940s.
But the bread stayed. I have many images involving Tip Top Bread. For your viewing pleasure:
Another huge contribution to Tip Top material culture is Tip Top Ice Cream from New Zealand. Again, I have many images which you can choose to see or not. Choice is so important. Write the word choice in all uppercase. Hold it upside down and read it in the mirror. What does it say?
And now for all the rest. And there are lots of them.
Tip Top was an irresistable name for comics and magazines.
This magazine featured the photographs of Elmer Batters, today seen as a pioneer in the field of foot fetish. Who knew?
There are many more examples of the comics etc. but I think you get the picture. Tip Top is also popular in the titles of children’s books.
And now for everything else that is Tip Top. Lots of Tip Top!
When I took these photos to show my friend, he looked through them. He was more attentive than usual looking at the Tip Top photos. “You missed one. I know someone, she took me to the Tip Top Del Club Jalisco Lounge in the outer Mission.”
“She used to to by the Tip Top Jalisco Lounge every day on her way home from work. Come to think of it, she took me to at least one show there.”
He paused. “There’s one more you missed.”
I thanked him for the two additions. What, though, about the post?
P.S. For those of you keeping score at home, here is what happened:
Tip-Top Liquors on San Pablo led me to a post on Tip Top. That led me to (1) Tip Top Bread; (2) Tip Top Ice Cream (New Zealand); and (3) Reduplications. (1) Tip Top Bread led me to (a) Tip Top Bread; (b) Tip Top Bread Trucks; and (c) Tip Top Bread Promotions. (3) Reduplications led me to Big Hair/Bad Suits Christian Record Albums.
That, my friends, is world-class digression.