Tag Archives: theft

Do You Want That Raise?: 1911

This Grafter Took Our Course

Do You Want That Raise?


The world of graft is always looking for bad men.

Are YOU in on it? By studying daytimes YOU can raise your position from that of a porch-climber, or second-story man or pick-pocket, to a high position in society. The swell hotels and penitentiaries await YOU. We will prove our ability by cheating you. We can point to hundreds of cashiers in Canada who tried our methods. One student climbed from the position of street-car conductor, in which he knocked down fares, to that of the manager of the worst street railway system in the country through our aid.


If you want to rise to a position where you can steal a thousand a week, clip off the coupon below and send it to us, with your choice marked. We will send you absolutely free full information about qualifying for any position. We furnish all text-books, and cheat our students by the installment plan, or any other they desire. Any honest and industrious thief can become an embezzler with a little study.

graft school coupon

Caricature, wit and humor of a nation in picture, song and story, 1911

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Plus ça change…

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

An Ingenious Ghost: 1825

Image from The Spectre of the Hall, British Library

Image from The Spectre of the Hall, British Library


Arthur Chambers was a thief endowed with uncommon address and talent. His adventures were marked by boldness in their object, and ingenuity in their accomplishment, as the following relation will shew:—

He hired the first floor of a house, and agreed with the landlord for fourteen shillings per week. Having been taken for a man of fortune, both from his appearance and expense, a mutual confidence was gradually established. When his plot was matured, he one day entered, with a very pensive and sorrowful look, the apartment of his landlord, who anxiously enquired the cause of his great uneasiness: Chambers, with tears in his eyes, informed him, that he had just returned from Hampstead, where he had witnessed the death of a beloved brother, who had left him his sole heir, with an express injunction to convey his dear remains to Westminster Abbey. He therefore entreated the favour of being allowed to bring his brother’s remains at a certain hour to his house, that from thence they might be conveyed to the place of their destination. His request was readily granted.

Chambers went off the next morning, leaving word, that the corpse would be there at six o’clock in the evening. At the appointed hour the hearse with six horses arrived at the door. An elegant coffin, with six gilded handles, was carried up stairs, and placed upon the dining-room table, and the horses were conveyed by the men to a stable in the neighbourhood. They informed the landlord that Chambers was detained on business, and would probably sleep that night in the Strand.

This artful rogue was, however, confined in the coffin, in which air-holes were made, the screw-nails left unfixed, his clothes all on, and only a winding-sheet wrapped above all, and his face disguised with flour. All the family went to bed except the maid-servant. Chambers arose from his confinement, went down stairs to the kitchen, wrapped in his winding-sheet, sat down and stared the maid in the face, who, overwhelmed with fear, cried out, “A ghost! a ghost!” and ran upstairs to her master’s room. He chid her unreasonable fears, and requested her to return to bed, and compose herself. She obstinately refused, and remained in the room;

In a short time, however, in stalks the stately ghost, took his seat, and conferred a complete sweat and a terrible fright upon all three who were present. Retiring from his station, when he deemed it convenient, he continued, by the moving of the doors, and the noise raised through the house, to conceal his designs. In the meantime he went down stairs, and opened the doors to his accomplices, who assisted in carrying off the plate, and every thing which could be removed, not even sparing the utensils of the kitchen. The maid was the first to venture from the room in the morning, and to inform her master and mistress what had happened, who, more than the night before, chid her credulity in believing that a ghost could rob a house, or carry away any article out of it. In a little time, however, the landlord was induced to rise from his bed, go down stairs, and found, to his astonishment and chagrin, that the whole of his plate, and almost the whole of his moveables, were gone and he had only received in return an empty coffin!

Chambers, after continuing his depredations, and being guilty of numerous acts of consummate art and villany, was at last detected, tried, sentenced, and finished his singular and vicious career at Tyburn. 

The Terrific Register, 1825

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil hopes that this anecdote is new to her readers; it is rather an old chestnut and was told about a number of criminals, named and unnamed. Arthur Chambers was something of a legend in the London Underworld. An unsavoury character trying to lure the hero into a life of crime, states:

“Not know who Arthur Chambers was !” exclaimed Master Blake in surprise; “ well, that is a go! why, Arthur Chambers was the very prince of prigs [thieves]; the downiest diver [most cunning pick-pocket], the rummest [foot] pad, the kiddiest [most fraudulent] scamp, the prettiest cheat, and the most dexterous filch upon town.”

A footnote adds:

‘This prince of prigs was the most dexterous pickpocket of his own or any other day. He was of low extraction, and, according to Captain Charles Johnson, commenced pilfering even while he was in petticoats. He was a perfect master of slang in all its varieties, from the maunders’, or beggars’, cant, to the Romanee, or gipsy patter, and Newgate flash of the light-fingered gentry. Many curious stories are related by Johnson of Arthur’s proficiency as a cheat: one in which he got himself conveyed into his own lodgings as a dead man, and, in the character of a ghost, contrived, during the night, to rifle the house, is really dramatic, and might almost form a farce. After a long career of roguery in all the lower walks of his profession, for Arthur never aspired to the dignity of a housebreaker or highwayman, and being confined in Bridewell and many other prisons, he was detected in a street robbery, found guilty, and, some time before the birth of our hero, suffered the usual fate of such offenders at Tyburn.

The Life and Adventures of Jack Sheppard, Lincoln Fortescue, Esq., 1845, p. 42

The term “Newgate flash,” above, refers to a type of slang. It also reflected a certain admiration in society for the roguish criminal who could carry off an imposition like the one above with such panache.

At one time there was a brief passion for polished steel; and among the slang refinements of the day was the application of that metal to a watch-chain of long links, imitating fetters, and called “the Newgate flash,” indicating the sympathy that existed for the numerous felons who were then weekly being hanged at the Old Bailey. Bentley’s Miscellany, 1852, p. 621

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Bracelet Thief: 1770s


An Adroit Thief

One evening, as Marie Antoinette sat quietly at her loge at the Theater, the wife of a wealthy tradesman of Paris, sitting nearly vis-à-vis to the Queen, made great parade of her toilet, and seemed peculiarly desirous of attracting attention to a pair of splendid bracelets, gleaming with the chaste contrast of emeralds and diamonds. She was not without success. A gentleman of elegant mien and graceful manner presented himself at the door of her loge; he delivered a message from the Queen. Her Majesty had remarked the singular beauty of the bracelets, and wished to inspect one of them more closely. What could be more gratifying? In the seventh heaven of delighted vanity, the tradesman’s wife unclasped the bracelet and gave it to the gentleman, who bowed himself out and left her—as you have doubtless divined he would—abundant leisure to learn of her loss.

Early the next morning, however, an officer form the department of police called at this lady’s house. The night before, a thief had been arrested leaving the theatre, and on his person were found many valuables, among others, a splendid bracelet. Being penitent he had told, to the best of his recollection, to whom the article belonged, and the lady called upon was indicated as the owner of the bracelet. If Madame possessed the mate to this singular bracelet, it was only necessary to intrust it to the officer, and if it was found to compare properly with the other, both would be immediately sent home, and Madame would have only a trifling fee to pay. The bracelet was given willingly, and, with the stiff courtesy inseparable from official dignity, the other took his leave, and at the next café joined his fellow, the gentleman of elegant mien and graceful manner. The bracelets were not found to compare properly and were not returned.

The Atlantic Vol. 5 1860

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil is well aware of the pretensions of the nouveau riche in Trade as she was once in the unfortunate position of serving as a lady’s maid to a so-called “Dollar Princess.” That young person possessed ample resources , but her taste, which was far less excellent than her father’s letters of credit, required extensive moulding.  She lacked the calm insouciance one finds in a family who came over with the Conqueror, knows its pearls are genuine, and does not feel called upon to demonstrate the fact by carelessly leaving the jeweller’s bill where anyone may notice it. Still, one can say this about the meat-packing classes: they (or rather, their money) have been rather useful in saving and restoring many fine stately homes. Consuelo Vanderbilt’s dowry, for example, was used to restore Blenheim Palace to its former splendour.

As to the unfortunate lady whose bracelets were so cleverly purloined, one regrets the loss, but Mrs Daffodil suspects that the following week the tradesman’s wife reappeared at the theatre with a still more lavish set of bracelets.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,”where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes


Saturday Snippets: 20 July 2013: Butter colour poison, 1910 tattoo removal, coffins on a shaving mug, a blighted bride, refreshing summer drink receipt.


Saturday Snippets for a Sultry Saturday

Saturday Snippets for a Sultry Saturday

The following laconic epistle may be seen in the window of a London cofeeshop: “Stolen from this window a china cup and saucer; the set being now incomplete, the thief may have the remainder at a bargain.” Brooklyn [NY] Eagle 11 April 1863: p. 4


Medical man. “Come, come, my dear madam, there is evidently something wrong; make a confidant of me.”

Blighted bride: “Well, doctor, it was always my great ambition (sob) to be the wife of a dry-goods (sob) merchant, and now I have thrown myself away upon a hardware (sob) dealer, and, although the dear fellow is as kind as he can be, (sob) and brings me home any quantity of scissors and files, and door-knobs and things, yet what are these to the (sob) wounded spirit that expected oceans of brocade and point lace?” (sob, sob, sob.)The Alleghenian [Ebensburg, PA] 9 August 1860: p. 1

Coffins on His Shaving-Cup

A young man in want of a shave recently went into a little barber-shop in Harlem, sat down in a chair, leaned back, and was about to shut his eyes to keep the lather out, when they fell upon an array of wonderfully decorated shaving-cups. On one was the picture of a hearse flanked by two upright coffins; on another was a dummy engine standing on a section of the elevated road, and others displayed pictures of a milk-wagon, a tombstone, a saw or a trowel. The barber explained that the hearse-and-coffin cup belonged to an undertaker with an eye to business, who had got enough custom from his novel advertisement to pay his shaving bill for the next ten years. An engineer on the elevated road owned the cup with the dummy engine on it. The other cups belonged to a milk-dealer, a stone-cutter, a carpenter, and a bricklayer. The barber said he had an order for a cup from a neighboring shoemaker which would eclipse all the other cups. It would contain a tiny photography of the shoemaker on a swinging sign bearing his name and the legend, “Repairing Neatly Done.” Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 19 July 1885:  p. 11.

What Bad Butter Color Can Do

Another case of fatal poisoning from swallowing “less than a teaspoonful” of a butter color supposed to contain some preparation of coal tar is recorded. The victim was a 2-year-old boy of Chippewa County, Wis., who was discovered in the act of tasting the contents of a bottle containing the color. It was taken away from him almost instantly, but the mother was not greatly alarmed (supposing that a material sold for use in butter could hardly be dangerous), and did not send for a physician until four hours later, when the child began to vomit. Collapse and coma followed, succeeded by an agonizing death in the afternoon of the next day.  Am. Cheesemaker. Logansport [IN] Pharos 30 August 1898: p. 7


St. Louis, March 6. Claude Chappell has had two square inches of skin covered with tattoo marks removed from the back of each hand at a hospital here. Skin from another part of the body was grafted on the hands. Chappell is an accountant and has trouble in getting work because of the tattoo marks, which were pricked in while he was making the trip around the world in the battleship squadron. Boston [MA] Journal 7 March 1910: p. 4 


From the receipt book of a Western member of Congress.

The following is said to make a pleasant beverage: Take one pint of whiskey, stir in one spoonful of whiskey; add one pint of whiskey and beat well with a spoon.

Take one gallon of water and let a servant carry it away beyond your reach; then put two spoonfuls of water in a tumbler, immediately throw it out and fill with whiskey. Flavor with whiskey to suit your taste.

When it is to be kept long in warm climates, add sufficient spirit to prevent souring. The Alleghenian [Ebensburg, PA] 9 August 1860: p. 1

 Love may be blind, but no one has as yet discovered that its hearing is impaired. Girls who have given themselves up to the habit of warbling Pinafore airs should line their seal hats with this. Cincinnati [OH] Daily Gazette 2 January 1880: p. 4

 A Few Errata.

  A number of errors crept into the story on the first page of last week’s issue, writes A. W. Bellew, in The Yankee Blade, the printer being intoxicated and the editor being off, that is to say, off on a hunting expedition:

  For “she fell into a river,” read “reverie.”

  For “he wore red headed hair,” read “he was an hereditary heir.”

  For “in front of the mansion he had the bull pup,” read “to pull up.”

  For “darling, this is your nasal morn,” read “natal.”

  For “I never was awfully hungry in my life,” read “angry.”

  For “you say she ate me with a smile,” read “satiate.”

  For “she did not for a moment cease her violent trombone,” read “trembling.”

  For “he gently threw her played out shawl around her, “read “plaid.”

  For “some said it was the spinage meningitis,” read “spinal”

For Herbert, I know you rascal,” etc., read “risk all.”

  For “she saw his lip grip ale,” read “grow pale.”

  For “is it possible! And me owe for board, with nothing to sustain me,” read “overboard”.

  For “he threw both arms around her ancient maiden aunt,” etc.; period after “her.”

  For “but my age must be renumbered,” read “remembered.”

  For “her heart was filled with et ceteras,” read “ecstasies.”

  For’ You are my last darling,” read “lost.”

  For “I am thin, I am wholly thin,” read “thine.” Newark [OH] Daily Advocate  28 November 1888: p. 4


The most impudent occurrence that we have ever yet heard of in the art of robbery is thus related in a Paris paper:—A lady went the other day into a shop in the Rue Richelieu to buy a cashmere shawl, and, having arranged the price, took from her purse a bank-note, and was in the act of handing it to the cashier’s counter, when a man, who had been observed watching her at the shop door, rushed in, struck the lady, and snatching the note from her hand, exclaimed, “I have already forbidden you to buy a shawl, but will watch you, and you shall not have one.” He then went out of the shop, and the lady fainted away. On her revival, the master of the shop began to condole with her on this scene of violence, and regretted she had so brutal a husband. “My husband!” cried the lady, “I never saw the man before.” It turned out that she had been robbed; pursuit was instantly made after the audacious rogue, but it was all in vain; he had got clear off. Ballou’s Dollar Monthly Magazine, Volume 13, 1861

THE latest thing in bon-bons are wink-drops, which appear innocent enough to the uninitiated, but are dainty little sugared receptacles for holding such stimulants as wine, brandy, or French liqueur. It is said that their consumption is growing to an alarming extent, fashionable women being the principal consumers. Godey’s Lady’s Book January 1896

Dog Trained to Steal

A woman was arrested in Paris for shoplifting not long ago, and it was noticed that she carried a bright looking King Charles spaniel on her arm. The police happened to examine the pup rather carefully, and were surprised to find that it was trained to help the woman at her trade. The dog was schooled to snatch a piece of lace in its mouth and then hide its head under the woman’s arm.  Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 22 October 1905: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil fervently hopes that her readers have serviceable fans and cakes of ice to recline upon in this beastly summer heat. Over at the Haunted Ohio blog you will find a suggestion for telling when the weather is about to break by using the Leech Barometer, a handy prognosticating tool which one can make at home. The necessary blood-sucking creatures may be acquired by consulting one’s medical man or by standing bare-legged in a farm pond or lake.