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Back in the 70's: Duluth, MN meterologist Jack Mckenna got himself into trouble during the evening forecast with "I'm not saying how cold it's going to get, but if you have a brass monkey in the backyard, you might want to cover him with a sheet." Windchills running between -40 and -50 below. Help Mr. Wizard! I don't want to live in Minnesota anymore!!! Just kidding :) It separates the wheat from the chaff :)
 

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YES I brought my Brass Monkey in last night...It was Damn cold...
 

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Wait until tonight Two Dogs. I can't believe the weather forecast for Sunday ... it can't be a shoot at Crumlin. Bill Malcolm
 

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HM...That's why in this kind of weather you need to put a little cup on him...LMAO..
 

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JON O Close, but it wasn`t adhesion . The brass contracted faster than the iron balls causing the balls to roll off the monkey in cold conditions.

Tommy Terex
 

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From Naval History & Heritage Command:

It has often been claimed that the "brass monkey" was a holder or storage rack in which cannon balls (or shot) were stacked on a ship. Supposedly when the "monkey" with its stack of cannon ball became cold, the contraction of iron cannon balls led to the balls falling through or off of the "monkey." This explanation appears to be a legend of the sea without historical justification. In actuality, ready service shot was kept on the gun or spar decks in shot racks (also known as shot garlands in the Royal Navy) which consisted of longitudinal wooden planks with holes bored into them, into which round shot (cannon balls) were inserted for ready use by the gun crew. These shot racks or garlands are discussed in: Longridge, C. Nepean. The Anatomy of Nelson's Ships. (Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press, 1981): 64. A top view of shot garlands on the upper deck of a ship-of-the-line is depicted in The Visual Dictionary of Ships and Sailing. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1991): 17.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the colloquial expression. For other uses of the term, see Brass monkey (disambiguation).

The phrase "cold enough to freeze the balls off (or on) a brass monkey" is a colloquial expression used by some English speakers. The reference to the testes (as the term balls is commonly understood to mean) of the brass monkey appears to be a 20th-century variant on the expression, prefigured by a range of references to other body parts, especially the nose and tail.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, small monkeys cast from the alloy brass were very common tourist souvenirs from China and Japan. They usually, but not always, came in a set of three representing the Three Wise Monkeys carved in wood above the Shrine of Toshogu in Nikko, Japan. These monkeys were often cast with all three in a single piece. In other sets they were made singly. Although three was the usual number, some sets of monkeys added a fourth, with its hand covering its genitals. Old brass monkeys of this type are collectors' items.[1][2] Michael Quinion, advisor to The Oxford English Dictionary and author of World Wide Words says "It’s more than likely the term came from them".[3]
 

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I remember reading the Brass Monkey booze ads in the Playboys I swiped from my old man in the early 1970s. Every month had a different explanation of what the term meant.
 

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I can understand the anatomical issues associated with monkeys. When it's this cold, though, you need to start thinking about your pool tables.
 

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The platform on the bottom must have been made of brass. But why call it a 'monkey'?


brass_monkey.jpg

 

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The pyramid display of cannon balls was just that, a display, often found in front of the gates of naval and military bases. They were for show only, no one but a blithering idiot would stack cannon balls on a ship. The first time the ship pitched or rolled, the watch on duty would be ankle deep in rolling 18 pound or heavier cast iron spheres. Only 18 pound and heavier cannon balls were kept in racks. Nine pounders and lighter were kept in shot garlands (think hammocks) that were tied to the ships' rails.

The C. Nepean mentioned above was Secretary to the English Lords of the Admiralty during the Napoleonic Wars
 

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The upper item in the photo is very similar to the devices used for carrying heated shot from the heating furnaces to the guns but I have never seen one before with 12 depressions. Heated shot was shot heated until it was just under the red-hot or melting stage, then loaded and fired at wooden ships in the hopes that the shot would lodge in the timbers and set the adjoining wood on fire. The furnaces could only be utilized on shore obviously. The middle photo is a gun deck, note the cannon balls stored in the racks adjacent to the ladder leading down to the next deck. The cannon shown in the lower picture was called a "carronade" or "smasher" and they were big-bore, short-range weapons firing cannon balls up to 54 pounds. It is interesting to note that the gun deck shown has never been painted, most of them were painted blood red to match the blood flowing from the carnage that ensued when two ships battled. The policy was for two ships to range alongside each other and both fired until the other struck its colors, sometimes taking 12-14 hours of continuous firing. The casualties were horrendous with blood flowing out of the scuppers down the sides of the ships involved.
 

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The upper item in the photo is very similar to the devices used for carrying heated shot from the heating furnaces to the guns but I have never seen one before with 12 depressions. Heated shot was shot heated until it was just under the red-hot or melting stage, then loaded and fired at wooden ships in the hopes that the shot would lodge in the timbers and set the adjoining wood on fire. The furnaces could only be utilized on shore obviously. The middle photo is a gun deck, note the cannon balls stored in the racks adjacent to the ladder leading down to the next deck. The cannon shown in the lower picture was called a "carronade" or "smasher" and they were big-bore, short-range weapons firing cannon balls up to 54 pounds. It is interesting to note that the gun deck shown has never been painted, most of them were painted blood red to match the blood flowing from the carnage that ensued when two ships battled. The policy was for two ships to range alongside each other and both fired until the other struck its colors, sometimes taking 12-14 hours of continuous firing. The casualties were horrendous with blood flowing out of the scuppers down the sides of the ships involved.
 
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