Living Picture of London, for 1828 and Stranger's Guide Through the Streets of the Metropolis

Bee, Jon




Is the general term for those rogues who, in like manner with the last, pick up soft-looking people in the streets, by pretending to stoop down and find some valuable commodity, close to their feet, which they generously propose to share with the person to be done. As the article so troven, most commonly assumed to be a gold ring, the term


has been extended to the whole series of frauds, which consists in finding supposed valuable articles, wrapped up with a bill of parcels, stating their prices at very high sums. Formerly, the same species of tricksters, for a similar reason, had the title of


employing, no doubt, the false or counterfeit coin of that time. In , we read of them as infructuously carrying on their knaves' tricks at night:-

Who can the various city frauds recite, With all the petty rapines of the night ? Who now the guinea-droppers' bait regards, Trick'd by the sharper's dice, or juggler's cards ? As soon the sharper pounces upon his


As soon as the sharper pounces upon his


he cries remarks a bystander, one of the crew, Not



unfrequently, this third person comes in for his third share; but is content to take some half- adozen shillings, for his quota of a parcel of trinkets, perhaps, that contains an invoice, with printed head and receipt for as many pounds. At the public-house, all these previously arranged proofs are laid forth, with appropriate comments, a call for drink, mutual pledges, &c. The receipt has a regular stamp, with the name of some popular jeweller, to support the validity of the transaction, and the intrinsic value of the goods, which may consist of gold seals, gold necklace, brooch, shirt-pin, bracelets, &c. &c. either of which stands the proof of acids, and which the sharpers artfully send out to purchase at a druggist's, and for better assurance, the dupe is sent along with the messenger. This test being applied, and the gold proved, the dupe now takes to the goods, giving whatever money he may possess at the time, to the amount of half the invoice, (if possible,) or a third; but if this cannot be obtained, a fourth is adopted, or less, and then, even then, he finds himself swindled; for, upon submitting his bargain to betterjudges, he finds the internal or body of his God-send is base metal, of the same ductibility as the gold employed, and over which the thin gold has been spread, at the flatting-mill, previous to its being cut out and worked up into form. Gold trinkets such as these form a series of articles of great consumption in London, and on board ships out-



ward-bound, among seamen, who may have received their

three months' advance on board,

or silly passengers, who imagine they shall find ready sale, and new dupes

across the Bay,

or on the other side the Atlantic ! who will take in all they say for gospel, and look upon their glittering toys as gold. Here, mark, reader! the metal we have been speaking of is not the ordinary

jewellers' gold,

so called, of which various small articles, such as those enumerated and others, are manufactured, nor the imitative-gold, called petit-or (or little gold). but real gold, equal to standard, that lies thin as leaf-gold upon the surface of thick brass. All over town, are goods of this description pressed upon the acceptance of strangers, by Jews, Jewish shopkeepers, and itinerant vendors; but deal not with such trashytradesmen, nor any where for articles apparently gold, unless the shopkeeper warrants the metal to be gold, before a witness, or makes out a bill-of-parcels, in which the same is expressed at length, when this becomes your guarantee, or warranty against imposition. Any deception in this respect, being punishable by the statute, the purchaser may rest tolerably secure that he possesses the genuine metal: the larger articles, as watchcases, &c. must be stamped with the usual Hall-mark, as having paid the duty.

Of the first-mentioned, or deceptions gold articles, that will stand the test, it remains to



be told that, in the year , an entire family of manufacturers, in Clerkenwell, contrived to palm off, upon the wary pawnbrokers, all over town, a great number of chains for the neck, (then much in vogue,) at thrice their real value. The pawnees took umbrage at being over-reached, and joined in the prosecution of the pawners. The main point left for the jury to decide turned upon the words used at the time of pawning: Did the prisoners say they had brought

chains of gold

or not?

that was the question.

The pawnbrokers'


their assistants, for the most part, swore hard, of course, that they did thus misrepresent; but in the midst of the argument, up jumped

Coke upon Littleton,

with the discovery that the pawns were still liable to redemption, the twelve months allowed by law being yet unexpired, and the Williamses went free. Women, as well as men, become dupes of the ring- droppers' arts, occasionally, and then a single ring, or a diamond shirt-pin, is employed as the bait.