Ernest Cassel? Bernard Baruch? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: There is an entertaining quotation about the changing labels that were applied to a famous financier. He was successively called a gambler, a speculator, and a banker, although he did not significantly change his methods. Do you know who crafted this humorous description of transformation?
Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI was published in a 1944 book titled “Bernard Baruch: Park Bench Statesman” which was a biographical work about the prominent investor, businessman, and presidential advisor. Baruch attributed the quotation to Ernest Cassel who was a merchant banker and confidant of King Edward VII: 1
…Baruch would quote Sir Ernest Cassel as saying, “When as a young and unknown man I started to be successful I was referred to as a gambler. My operations increased in scope. Then I was a speculator. The sphere of my activities continued to expand and presently I was known as a banker. Actually I had been doing the same thing all the time.”
That comes pretty close to being Baruch’s favorite quotation.
Ernest Cassel died in 1921; hence, the attribution in 1944 occurred rather late. Baruch popularized the quotation, and he included an instance in his 1957 autobiography as shown further below. Yet, QI is uncertain where Baruch obtained the comical remark. Perhaps future researchers will locate an earlier citation.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.