A-one, a-number one –first class, exceptional—1846—This one surprised me. I always thought A-1 was a 20th century phrase, but apparently not. It seems to have been used through much of the century, as in “She was the a number one apple pie baker in the county”
I wrote all of these up at the beginning of the year, but since I keep studying I find out new things. I may be doing a few of these update. . .or add some words here and there.
Synonym to A Number One–Crack: first-rate; exceptionally good; fancy high-class. . . A crack hotel, a crack boat. Apparently first used around 1791, but seems to be part of regular (slang) language from about 1841 on.