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Tag Archives: Counterfeiting

Early American Criminals: Henry Tufts in the Castle

Note: This post follows “Henry Tufts’s Partners in Crime.” While living in Massachusetts in 1793, Henry Tufts purchased a silver tablespoon and five teaspoons from John Stewart, who said he found them while clearing out a cellar. Tufts used the spoons until a neighbor recognized them as stolen and reported Tufts to the authorities. […]

Early American Criminals: The Canadian Burglars

On Friday, December 4, 1789, William Mooney Fitzgerald and John Clark were scheduled to appear before the court in St. John, New Brunswick. They were to learn their sentence after being tried and found guilty of burglary the day before. That morning, Rev. Charles William Milton entered their prison cell and later wrote that […]

The American Malefactor’s Dictionary: backer

backer – the person who supplies the genuine dollar bills that are shown to a prospective victim in a greengoods con-game. The greengoods con-game entails the sale of a large quantity of counterfeit money at a steep discount from its face value. In a show of demonstrating the high quality of the counterfeit bills to […]

The American Malefactor’s Dictionary: assay

assay – to commence; to try it. Possibly derived from the phrase “to take the assay or essay,” i.e., to taste wine to prove that it is not poisoned. It may have been brought into use by counterfeit coiners. Image by Greg_e via Flickr Sources Barrère, Albert and Charles G. Leland. A Dictionary of Slang, […]

Early American Crimes: Burglary, Part II

Note: This post continues Early American Crimes: Burglary, Part I. In the earliest days of colonial America, burglary was not considered much of a problem. Most people in the community knew each other, and strangers could be quickly identified. But as more people settled in America and cities grew bigger, burglary became a much more […]