I really wanted to write about estuche de monerías, a Spanish expression that literally means a box full of cute things, but I was afraid hardly anyone would read a section so titled. This came up as I was describing our speaker from last Sunday, Anna Freeman, who is a nurse, a graduate student in Public Health, and a two-time volunteer for Doctors without Borders—in the Congo and in Haiti, who also loves to cook and is a homebody. It turns out that estuche de monerías is used to mean jack of all trades, at least in Mexico.
However, jack of all trades is often linked to master of none while this Spanish expression isn't. Wikipedia
has a list of foreign language equivalents, mostly for the semi-positive, semi-negative interpretation. I particularly like: 'Croatian: Katica za sve (Kate for everything)' and that in 'Elizabethan English the synonymous quasi-New Latin Johannes factotum (Johnny do-it-all) was sometimes used, with the same negative connotation that "Jack of all trades" sometimes has today. The term was famously used by Robert Greene in the earliest surviving published reference to William Shakespeare.'
As to the origin of the entire English phrase, Wikipedia tells us:
In 1612, the phrase appeared in the book "Essays and Characters of a Prison" by English writer Geffray Mynshul (Minshull) originally published in 1618 and probably based on the author's experience while held at Gray's Inn, London, when imprisoned for debt. Mynshul uses only the first half of the phrase in the book, which indicates that the phrase was in common usage at the time he wrote his account.
In North America, the phrase has been in use since 1721, typically in its shortened form. The 'jack of all trades' part of the phrase was in common use during the 1600s and was generally used as a term of praise. 'Jack' in those days was a generic term for 'man'. Later the 'master of none' was added and the expression ceased to be very flattering. Today, the phrase used in its entirety generally describes a person whose knowledge, while covering a number of areas, is superficial in all of them, whilst when abbreviated as simply 'jack of all trades' is more ambiguous and the user's intention may vary, dependent on context.