The Secrets Of The Great City
Edward Winslow Martin
Part 8 out of 8
At the corner of Twenty-third street and Fourth Avenue, is one of the
most beautiful edifices in the city. It is built in the pure Gothic
style of the thirteenth century, and the external walls are composed of
variegated marble. It has an air of lightness and elegance, that at
once elicit the admiration of the gazer. The interior is finished with
white pine, ash, mahogany, oak, and black walnut in their natural
colors; no paint being used in the building. Schools of art, a library,
reading room, lecture room, and the necessary rooms for the business of
the institution, occupy the first and second stories. The third floor
is devoted to the gallery of paintings and the sculpture room.
An annual exhibition is held during the winter months, when the public
are admitted at a small charge. Only the works of living artists are
The hospitals and benevolent institutions of the city are numerous, and
are conducted in a liberal manner. Visitors are admitted to all of them
at stated times, and much instruction and profit may be gained from an
examination of the system upon which they are managed.
The General Post-office of the city is located on Nassau street,
between Cedar and Liberty streets. It was formerly the Middle Dutch
Church, and was built long before the Revolution. It was in the old
wooden steeple of this building that Benjamin Franklin practiced those
experiments in electricity, which have made his name immortal. When the
British occupied the city, during the War for Independence, they
occupied this church for military purposes. The building was very
greatly injured by the rough usage to which it was put, by its
sacrilegious occupants. The pews and pulpit were broken up for
firewood, and the building was used first as a prison, and then as a
riding school. It was repaired in 1790, and again used for religious
services. Some years later, it was purchased by the Government, and
fitted up as a post-office. The growing business of the office has made
it necessary to make so many additions to the structure, that it is
hard at present to distinguish the original plan of the edifice. The
building is much too small to accommodate the business required to be
transacted within its walls, and efforts are being made to secure the
erection of a larger and handsomer building, at the lower end of the
City Hall Park. It is supposed that the movement in this direction will
be successful, though the Government would seem, by its delay in the
matter, not to consider it a matter of much importance to accommodate
the citizens of the metropolis in this respect.
The Post-office being situated so low down in the city, it has been
found necessary to establish branches, called "Stations," in the upper
part of the island. They are distinguished by the letters "A," "B,"
"C," etc. Many persons receive and mail their correspondence here. The
drop letter system places an immense amount of business in the hands of
Street boxes, for letters, are scattered through the city. They are
never more than a block or two apart, in any of the streets below
Fifty-ninth street, and the distances are not very great in the other
portions of the island. Letters dropped in these boxes are collected
seven or eight times during the day, and there is a delivery of letters
and papers by the postman every hour. These are left at the houses of
the parties to whom they are addressed, without additional charge. The
system is excellent, and is a great convenience to all classes of the
By this term we refer to the street vendors of the city, who hawk their
wares through the public thoroughfares. A recent number of the
_Cornhill Magazine_, of London, contains the following interesting
description of this class:
As New York is the largest city in America, we naturally find more of
this class there than anywhere else. It takes a long residence in the
city to become familiar with them, for they vary with the season, and
their occupations change according to circumstances. In many respects
New York city resembles London or Paris. And so would any other town
with a million of inhabitants, surrounded by a cluster of cities, which
swell the united population to almost two millions. It may well be
doubted if there is a city in Europe which presents so many strong
characteristics as the American metropolis. The population of Manhattan
Island is a mixture of all the peoples under the sun, fearfully and
wonderfully jumbled together. About one thousand foreigners a day
arrive in New York from all parts of the world the year round. The
resident American is always coming in contact with Spaniards, Germans,
Irishmen, Frenchmen, Africans, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Mexicans,
Scotchmen, Canadians, Englishmen, Arabs, Prussians, Swedes, and
Italians. The Frenchman is as much at home as in his native Paris; the
Scotchman hears the bagpipes in the City Hall Park, and sees the
shepherd's dog at the Central Park; the Chinaman can find a whole
street devoted to the selling of his teas, his native idols stare him
in the face as advertisements before a Yankee shop door, and all the
ladies on Broadway are toying with his fans; the Irishman rules the
city, and hoists his green flag upon the public buildings; the African
is the most important man in the crowd, and expects soon to colonize
the whites in British America, or somewhere else, while the German has
his sangerbunds and his schutzenfests and lager bier, and runs a
_halle_ and a boarding _haus_. Great is the mystery of New York.
But to the patterers. These are that large class of people who hawk
their wares upon the street, or get a living at a stand. Some of them
do a thriving trade, others barely eke out a miserable existence. Take
them all in all, and they are a very curious class of people,
interesting to study. A large number of them are women, from the oldest
gray-haired grandmother, tottering on her cane, down to the young woman
of sixteen. There are numerous little girls struggling to get a living,
too, from three years old upwards. The women always excite our pity,
and we patronize them in preference to the men.
The women patterers are usually a very ugly-looking set. That is, they
are not handsome. Most of them are Irishwomen, although we now and then
see an Italian or German woman. We never saw more than two American
women patterers in New York, and have no recollection of ever seeing a
Jewess, a Scotch woman, or a Spanish woman. The women and girls sell
flowers, newspapers, candy, toothpicks, fruit, various kinds of food,
turn hand-organs, sell songs, and beg. A woman never sells cigars or
tobacco, and we have never seen one crying gentlemen's neckties. There
is an old woman on Nassau street, not far from the General Post-office,
who sits behind a stocking stall, covered with ladies' hose and
gentlemen's socks, suspenders, mittens (the women always were fond of
dealing in mittens) list slippers, yarns, and such stuff. So far as we
know, this woman is an exception to her sex.
Very few women patterers in New York cry their wares. There is one
ancient dame in the vicinity of St. John's Park, who screeches '_straw-
ab-berries_' in the spring time, following it up in the summer with
'_blackberrie-e-e-s_.' She seldom gets above Canal street, and always
stays upon the west side of Broadway. Her voice has been familiar in
that section of the city for the past five years, at least, and would
be sadly missed if some day she should happen to get choked with one of
her own _berries_, and, turning _black_ in the face, be laid out on a
bier of _straw_ ready for _burial_.
There is a very stout old lady who always sits by the City Hospital
gate, on Broadway. She has been in that selfsame spot, ever since
before 'the late war,' and how much longer we know not. She is
immensely stout, and must weigh at least two hundred pounds. Rain or
shine, hot or cold, there she sits, with a little stand of newspapers
before her--the _Tribune_, _World_, _Herald_, _Times_, and _Sun_. She
only sells morning papers, and leaves when they are all sold. She
always has her knitting-work, or sewing with her, and can often be seen
making her own garments. Now and then she grows weary, the eyes close,
the head falls forward, the mouth opens, the fingers stop, (still
holding on to the knitting work,) and she dreams! What are her dreams?
Possibly of a happy home in a distant land, a long time ago, when she
was a little girl, and had a father to bless her, and a mother to love.
A brace of omnibuses come thundering down the pavement, and she awakes.
If people purchase papers of her while she is asleep they drop the
pennies upon her stand, and pass on. This old body has a daughter who
sells newspapers at a stand directly opposite, upon the other side of
the street. The daughter is not as dutiful as she ought to be, and
sometimes there is a family jar upon the street, not at all to the
edification of those who witness it.
One of the saddest sights in New York is that of a pale-faced, light-
haired woman, middle-aged, who can frequently be seen sitting on a
Broadway curbstone behind a small hand-organ, from which she grinds a
plaintive tune, the notes of which are seldom heard above the thunder
of the street. She always appears bareheaded, and with a small child in
her lap. The little straw hat of the babe is put upon the top of the
organ to catch the pennies and bits of scrip. We are glad to notice
that many men remember her in passing.
City Hall Park, Printing-House Square, Bowery, and Nassau street, are
the great centres for all kinds of patterers. Here women sell ice
cream, lemonade, doughnuts, buns, tropical fruits, and sweetmeats.
Bananas and pineapples are favorite fruits and all forms of chocolate
candies are in great demand. Most of the women who attend stalls grow
very stout, as they get little or no exercise. It is noticed that very
few of them ever partake of the fruits or other edibles which they deal
in. They always bring a lunch with them of bread and butter, cold
soups, and cold tea or coffee, with occasionally a bit of meat. One
evening, opposite the Fifth Avenue Hotel, we saw a young woman,
evidently nineteen or twenty, playing upon a violin. She was blind,
and, as it was a warm, bright moonlight night, her head was bare. The
countenance had a very sad, sweet expression, and the air she played
was a far-away dreamy romance. We never saw her but once.
The poor little girls of New York do a wonderful number of things to
get a living. They sell matches, toothpicks, cigars, songs, newspapers,
flowers, etc. There is a good deal of romance published in the
newspapers, about the flower-girls, which does not exist. The _Evening
Post_ once said they were as handsome as the flower-girls of Paris. If
they are, the Paris flower-girls must be frightful little wretches. The
flower-girls of New York cluster about St. Paul's churchyard and the
Astor House, and can be found scattered up Broadway as high as Twenty-
third street. They sell magnolias, hand bouquets and button-hole
bouquets for gentlemen's coats. They appear on the streets with the
earliest spring violets, and only disappear with 'the last rose of
summer.' A rainy day is a very good one for the flowers, and they sell
better than in fair weather. When the skies are lowering, man wants
something to cheer him, and so he takes a tuberose and a geranium leaf,
and puts it in the button-hole of his coat. The girls buy their flowers
of the gardeners out in the suburbs of the city, and then manufacture
their own bouquets.
Some of the little girls who patter upon the street make a tolerably
good living, if they are industrious and stick to their business.
Oranges and sponges sell well, and often from two to four dollars'
worth are disposed of between the rising and the setting of the sun.
Pattering is only profitable during business hours, which, in New York,
do not commence much before 9 o'clock, and close by 5 P. M. So the
patterer is a gentleman with the rest of them, and shuts up shop at the
same time A. T. Stewart and H. B. Claflin do their marble and sandstone
palaces. There are exceptions to this rule, as there are to all rules.
Those who patter at the Battery, and in the vicinity of South Ferry,
where a constant stream of people is passing back and forth far into
the night, stick by their stands as long as there is any one upon the
street. At midnight, when the thunder of the streets is hushed, and the
moon is rolling beneath a dark cloud, the heads of old men and women
can be seen nid, nid, nodding, from Bowling Green to the Battery wall.
Where they go to when they close up their stalls and crawl away in the
darkness, it is impossible to say.
The most interesting sights in connection with pattering may be seen in
the vicinity of Castle Garden, and on the east side of City Hall Park,
opposite Park Row. At Castle Garden the patterers meet with a constant
stream of freshly arrived emigrants. They have just landed in 'free
America,' and the first thing which greets their eyes after they have
left the officials, and passed the portals of the Garden, is a long row
of patterers behind stalls filled with ginger-cakes, lemonade, tropical
fruits, apples, etc. Many of the poor peasants from the interior of
Europe never saw a bunch of red or golden bananas, they know nothing of
the mysteries of a pineapple, and are unacquainted with cocoa-nuts.
They look with no little astonishment upon these products of the soil,
but hesitate to purchase them. They are shy of the new-fangled American
drinks, but being very thirsty, occasionally indulge in a glass of
lemonade. How their eyes sparkle as the delicious nectar runs down
their throats. Such _wasser_ is unknown to the springs of Germany.
Bread, cakes and apples are readily bought by them, but as they deal in
hard cash, and talk German, and as the old woman they are trading with
speaks Irish-English, and has nothing but scrip, it takes some little
time to conclude a bargain. A great deal of talking is done on the
fingers, and the emigrant goes away satisfied, nay, pleased, at the
great amount of something to eat he is able to buy in America with a
small lot of silver. Besides this, the old woman behind the stall gives
him a variety of paper money, curiously printed. He looks at it, then
doubles it up, and puts it carefully away.
The men patterers are a much larger class in New York than the women.
They are engaged in all imaginable occupations and dog your steps at
every corner. Some of these men are middle-aged, able-bodied fellows,
quite strong and healthy enough to be clearing up land in the West or
laying bricks at five dollars a day. For some unaccountable reason they
prefer to remain in New York, living from hand to mouth, and doing
nothing to improve themselves, mentally, worldly, or financially. We
have one of these in mind now. Sitting on the west side of Broadway,
not far from White street, a young man of about thirty-two or three,
healthy, stout, and quite intelligent looking, employs his time in
tending a small stand, upon which a few gum-drops and chocolates are
displayed for sale. Here is enterprise and ambition for you. We have
passed his stand several times a day for the last year, and we never
saw him selling anything to a man. They are ashamed of his presence on
the street in such an occupation. A girl, or a poor woman, would get
some sympathy, but for an able-bodied man in America, none! The fellow
has a wife, and sometimes she takes place. There is a sad, disconsolate
look upon her face, and well there may be, since she is united to such
a lazy dolt of a husband.
It has been noticed that dwarfs and deformed people often resort to
pattering. Like Gloster, in King Richard III., they are
------'curtailed thus of fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deform'd, unfinished, sent before their time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable,
That dogs bark at them.'
Through these misfortunes they hope to tell upon the feelings of the
public, and thereby secure a larger share of patronage. One of these 4
unfashionable human beings stands on Broadway, with a bunch of carpet
dusters in his hand-leather thongs fastened to a handle. Another poor
fellow in front of the _Times_ office has no arms, and therefore
supports himself by whittling kindling-wood for the benefit of the
public. A dwarf on the sidewalk, not far from the St. Nicholas Hotel,
has an immense head, with ugly and snubbish features, a short body, and
ungainly limbs. He peddles apples.
The other men and boy patterers of New York sell cigars, whips,
neckties, sleeve-buttons, dogs, young bears, watch-chains, resurrection
plants, sponge-cakes, and all the articles sold by women. A man does a
thriving business at the foot of one of the large marble columns of the
Sub-Treasury on Wall street. He keeps fresh home-made sponge cakes,
which sell for five or ten cents each. One of these is enough for a
The dog and bear men lurk in the vicinity of the Astor House. They
always have a basket in which they carry their animals, and during
business hours spend the most of their time scratching their backs with
a comb. These men seem to be a little unsound in the upper regions.
They wear long hair, loose fitting clothes, broad-brimmed hats, and are
perfectly happy whether they sell a dog or not. No one has yet been
seen offering cats for sale. Maps, pictures, and songs are frequently
indulged in by the street patterers. Most of them are horrible prints,
highly colored, representing favorite priests, the Presidents, naval
conflicts, battles, and fires. The maps have the Irish harp in one
corner and the United States flag in the other. The favorite maps are
those of Ireland and New York City.
Since the police have banished the banner-men from the side-walks, the
various trades have taken to representing themselves in odd costumes on
the backs of ambitious patterers. Just now walking awnings, barber's
poles, whalebones, etc., are the rage. Like everything else in a city,
this will be tolerated until it becomes a nuisance, when the police
will take them off to the station-house and they will be among the
things that were.
"The patterers of New York could well be dispensed with. Most of them
deserve none of our sympathy, and should be taken in charge by the
government, and set to work at some useful occupation. This would clear
the streets of a great many disgusting sights, and give the town an air
of thrift and respectability, which it is not likely to have as long as
such a horde of spendthrifts hang about all the corners."
The New York correspondent of a provincial journal, recently published
the following excellent sketch of the lottery business as practiced in
Few persons realize to what an extent American lotteries are patronized
in this city, and in a great many other cities of the country. A
lottery business has been built up within a few years, secret and
silent from general public inspection, which draws thousands of dollars
yearly from the pockets of credulous fools, into the coffers of the
designing men who manage these traps for the fortune-seekers. New York
is the general headquarters for these Southern lotteries, though they
are not drawn here; and in this sketch we will take a look at them.
The regular authorized American lotteries are the 'Kentucky' and
'Missouri.' There are several other branches of these concerns--two or
three off-shoots growing out of a feud between the managers of the old
Kentucky lottery, last winter, but as the side-establishments are not
recognized as legitimate, either by patrons or the lottery board, I
will pass them by in silence.
The two lotteries above named are drawn daily at noon and night. The
'Kentucky' is drawn at Covington and the 'Missouri' at Lexington. The
drawings are made in public. Immediately after the numbers are taken
from the wheel, the telegraph sends them over the country to the
various lottery offices, those for the East coming to the general
headquarters in this city, where they are forwarded to every lottery
dealer in New England and the Middle States.
The lottery schemes are what is known as the ternary combination of
seventy-eight numbers, being one to seventy eight, inclusive; or, in
other words, 'three number' schemes. The numbers vary with the day. To-
day seventy-eight numbers may be placed in the wheel and fourteen of
them drawn out. Any ticket having on it three of the drawn numbers
takes a prize, ranging from fifty thousand dollars to three hundred
dollars, as the scheme may indicate for the day. Tickets with two of
the drawn numbers on them pay an advance of about a hundred per cent.
of their cost. Tickets with only one of the drawn numbers on them get
back first cost. On another day only seventy-five numbers will be put
in the wheel, and only twelve or thirteen drawn out. And so it goes.
The owners or managers of these concerns are prominent sporting men and
gamblers of New York and elsewhere. Considerable capital is invested.
It is said that it takes nearly two million dollars to work this
business, and that the profits average five hundred thousand dollars or
more a year. The ticket sellers get a commission of twelve per cent. on
all sales. The tickets are issued to them in lots, one set of
combinations going to one section of the country this week, another
next; and all tickets unsold up to the hour for the drawing at
Covington, are sent back to headquarters. In this way many prizes are
drawn by tickets which remain unsold in dealers' hands after they have
reported to the agents; and the lottery makes it clear.
Together with the sale of tickets is carried on an extensive game of
gambling known as 'policy.' To 'policy' is to bet on certain numbers
coming out in the drawing, for either morning or evening. Thus, if I
believe 4, 11, 44 will be drawn, I stake a dollar at the lottery
office, or any sum I see fit, up to five hundred dollars, and if all
three of the numbers make their appearance on the drawing, the liberal
managers will give me two hundred dollars for my one. You can take any
three numbers of the seventy eight and policy them. The three numbers
taken are called a 'gig;' two numbers a 'saddle;' four numbers a
'horse'--either of which pays its own rate, which is from two to six
hundred dollars for one; a 'saddle,' however, only giving a small
advance on your stake.
Now, perhaps you will say that is simple enough, and a fine chance to
make money. It must be possible to strike three numbers often. Try it.
The lottery, by its large advance on the amount you stake, tells a
different story. A man might play three numbers every day for a year,
and not have the satisfaction of seeing all three come out at one time
on the drawing. Two will come out with a number just ahead or below the
third; and you will pay more money and try again. Why there are men who
are veterans at policy-playing, using all their spare funds, going
without everything which makes life pleasant, and yet it is rarely they
hit the 'gig.'
In this city, where all kinds of gambling flourishes, from the Stock
Exchange to a Fifth Avenue faro 'hell,' a 'sweat' board in Baxter
street, or greasy marked cards in a cellar drinking den--these American
lotteries are sold in no less than six hundred places over and across
the town. They are known by the dignified name of 'Exchange.' Go where
you will, their signs will meet your eye. On Broadway, down town, there
are several large lottery offices, well known, frequented by merchants
and well-to-do business men, where policy is played with high stakes,
where hundreds of tickets are sold daily. There is one near John
street, on Broadway. The front office is a money broker's counter; but
passing through, you come into a long, well-furnished room, all parts
of the day filled with policy players. Here they do a great business in
lottery tickets. There are five clerks employed. Across the wall hangs
a large slate, upon which the drawn numbers are chalked. A little sign
over the ticket desk gives notice that 'plays will not be taken for
over ten thousand dollars.' This is the great office of the city. The
proprietor has an interest in the lotteries, besides making his
commission as seller.
A good many stories are told of this 'Exchange.' A man came in one day
and laid a dollar on the counter before the clerk, and said: 'Here,
give me a ticket that will draw a prize! That dollar is all I have got;
but I dreamed last night that I would draw something big!' The clerk
laughed, and carelessly passed him a ticket taken at random from the
bunch. It was numbered 16, 42, 51. Did it draw the prize, you ask? No,
not that drawing. The man came in at night, read the list of drawn
numbers, turned away without a word, and went out into the street. He
had been gone but a moment before the report of a pistol rang out
clear, sharp, alarming. The people in the policy office hurried to the
door. The unfortunate man had shot himself dead! The next morning what
should come rolling out of the lottery wheel but his numbers--16, 42,
51--a prize of twenty thousand dollars! Tricked by fortune, the man lay
cold and stark at the Morgue.
Another story. A boy came into the office not long since. 'Father wants
to policy two dollars on this gig,' he said, giving the three numbers
to a clerk. That was for the noon drawing. About two o'clock the father
came to inspect the list. He cast his eye down the big slate, and found
his 'gig' there. He had won four hundred dollars! 'I have spent five
thousand dollars on this accursed thing, and this is the first money
that has come back,' he said, as the greenbacks were placed in his
hand. 'Try it again,' said the affable clerk, as an historical affable
spider once said, 'walk into my parlor!' to a foolish policy-playing
fly. The man who was five thousand less four hundred dollars out, did
try it again. He kept trying it. He kept winning as if a good angel
stood behind him dictating the plays. He struck two thousand dollars
one day. He followed it up by bagging thirty-two hundred soon after.
The lottery folks were afraid of him. Before two months was out the man
was 'in' to the tune of twenty-seven thousand dollars. Every third or
fourth play seemed to hit. Did he stop and carry his large gains away
from the fascination of gaming? He became intensely nervous, wild over
his rare fortune. No day but to play. At last the office refused to
receive plays from him. This excited him so much that in raving over it
he fell down in a fit in the very 'Exchange' where he had made his
pile. He was taken to the City Hospital; from there, hopelessly insane,
he was taken to the mad-house, on Blackwell's Island. And the best part
of the story is that a loving wife and mother, who had vainly attempted
to check the husband in his dangerous course, received the money, and,
for the first of several years, is enabled to live comfortably, caring
for the hapless victim on the Island, part of the time, and devoting
the rest to the training of a young son.
Some of the lottery gamblers have a regular system. Their dreams give
them numbers to play. If one dreams of a house on fire, a horse running
away, a ship sinking at sea, a bald-headed man, or a monkey going up a
cocoa-nut tree, straightway he rushes to play the numbers indicated.
You would think they were destitute of brains, if in all other things
they didn't show plenty of sense. When a man or woman gets lottery-mad,
nothing is too absurd for them to do in getting 'numbers.'
The negroes of the city are great policy-players. In every district
where they live you will find dingy little lottery offices, patronized
mostly by them. Some of them make as much as forty or fifty dollars a
week. A negro must play his policy even if bread is lacking at home.
Now and then they make a lucky 'gig,' and win a few dollars. Some are
born with a policy luck, I do believe. One old darkey woman, a kind,
motherly sort of a body, who used to attend to the linen of the house
where I resided, has had a wonderful streak of luck in policy. Out of
four or five years playing she has obtained money enough to set up a
pretty cottage in Harlem, and furnish it well. She says she dreams her
numbers! The sale of lottery dream-books is really immense. One firm on
Ann street sell several thousand a month of these books, wherein every
possible dream is described, and the proper 'policy' attached to it.'
The poverty, the evil, the utter and abominable waste that results from
these lotteries, cannot be realized, save by those who have
investigated the subject. Hard working, sober men, good citizens,
respectable and worthy in every other way, are bound down to this mean
gambling, which always keeps them poor, which continually keeps the
wolf at their doors. And all for what? That a set of rascals may wear
fine linen, and walk Broadway with lofty airs. A man who becomes
infatuated in lotteries, becomes lost almost beyond chance. I can count
up in passing no less than six men who are mad on policy, who save from
food, from clothes, from the family, money, to spend in these lottery
hells. They never draw anything. The next time it is hoped better luck
will come. So they have gone on for years, and are no nearer the prize.
Strange human blindness! They haven't strength enough to dash away from
it all; and drop by drop the very life-blood is sucked out of them.
If you want to see anxious faces, drop into one of these 'exchanges'
about the time the drawings come in. The office will be full. All
classes of men are represented. There is the day-laborer with his tin
pail, the merchant with an unmistakable business air, the gambler
glittering with diamonds, clerks with inky fingers, men of leisure,
cool and vacant looking, and I have even seen very ministerial looking
men, who might have been divines, or dealers in a faro bank; it is hard
to tell one from the other in New York, where, if a man has a very
respectable appearance, he is put down as belonging to one of the two
professions. But there is a marked look of concern on all faces,
'waiting for the verdict' on their plays.
The numbers come in from headquarters. One by one they are called off
and chalked on the slate, so that he who runs may read. One man has
struck something, and his face lights up with joy. It is only a small
amount, and instead of blessing his stars that he has been so
fortunate, he is bewailing his prudence in staking so little. Another
turns away with a dreary sigh, for the slate tells him the same old
story of no luck. Another has just hit it--all but one figure! if he
had played 'seven' instead of 'six,' what a pile he would have taken
in! Yes; but the good managers knew you would play seven, and so were
perfectly willing to offer you two hundred dollars for one. A woman
crowds her way into the throng. Does she invest in lottery tickets or
policy? She has a slip of paper with numbers on, and compares them with
the slate. Now she turns away, and there is no light of victory in her
"Poor fools, waiting, hoping, longing for a prize! The flaring printed
poster on the wall tells of fifty thousand dollars to be drawn to-day.
A fortune to be paid to the lucky holder of the right ticket. Of course
you will all go in for it, lottery maniacs, as you have done many times
before. You will lay out hard-earned money--I pity you, but no urging
can stop you; and all the while the lottery is laughing in contempt at
you; and the radiant managers are flashing costly diamonds in your
faces, and enjoying themselves in splendid mansions up town, living on
the fat of the land--airing themselves in the Park behind blood horses
with famous names--all bought with the dollars you have given them so
freely! Work for more and give them! Starve your family to add to the
spoils! Go ragged yourselves that they may dress richly! Who knows but
that you may draw that tempting prize in time!"
There are more than two thousand persons in the city of New York, who
make their living by conducting gift enterprises. These schemes have
various names, but are conducted substantially on the same plan.
The parties engaged in the swindle open an office in some conspicuous
place in the city, and announce a grand distribution of prizes for the
benefit of some charitable association, such as "The Gettysburg Asylum
for Invalid Soldiers and Sailors," "Southern Orphans' Aid Association,"
etc., etc.; or they announce a grand gift concert, to take place at
some public hall at a given time. The tickets to this concert are sold
at prices ranging from one to five dollars, the former being the usual
price. Directions of other cities are procured, mailing clerks of
newspapers are paid for copies of the list of subscribers to their
journals, and country newspapers are procured for a similar purpose. A
large number of names is thus obtained, and a circular issued, setting
forth the scheme, the list of prizes, and the manner of procuring
tickets. There is scarcely a place in the United States to which these
circulars are not sent. Each of the persons so addressed is requested
to act as an agent; and is promised a prize in the distribution if he
will use his influence to sell tickets and say nothing of the
inducements offered to him, as such knowledge would make others
dissatisfied. The prize is said to be worth a great deal, and the party
requested to act as agent sets to work promptly, and generally succeeds
in getting a number of names and dollars, which he forwards to the
managers of the grand concert. No concert is ever held, and no drawing
takes place. The money is lost to the senders and pocketed by the
swindlers who receive it.
THE BANKERS' AND BROKERS' GIFT ENTERPRISE.
During the winter of 1867-68, a swindler or set of swindlers opened an
office in the lower part of Broadway, under the title of "The Bankers'
and Brokers' Gift Enterprise." The affair was ostensibly managed by the
firm of Clark, Webster & Co. As many thousand persons were victimized
by these villains, it is possible that some of our readers may be able
to vouch for the statements contained in the following extract
concerning the affair, from the _Missouri Republican_, published in St.
For some months, certain papers, both in the East and West, have been
displaying an enormously large advertisement, of the Bankers' and
Merchants' First Grand Presentation Enterprise, to be commenced on
Thursday, October 24th, and continued for 'one hundred and fifty days
from the date of commencement, at the rate of ten thousand tickets per
day.' The scheme was a magnificent one; every ticket holder was
entitled to such a premium as would fully insure him against loss--that
is, he would draw a prize equal to the money invested, minus five per
cent., and would run a risk of winning an enormous prize, of which
there were several 'on the bills.'
Of course this spread like wild-fire, the cholera, or yellow fever;
hundreds, who should have possessed some discretion, sent their dollars
to Clark, Webster & Co., 62 Broadway, New York, expecting to realize
handsome fortunes. How they supposed that the proprietors could ever
give such premiums, we cannot say; but certain it is they did, and
hundreds and thousands have been most fearfully victimized; how, will
be easily explained.
The enormous prizes were not in money; they were stocks, and the like,
in fancy companies, somewhere--where, we do not know; where a nominal
half a million would not be worth half a dollar.
But it was not in the dollar paid for the original ticket that the
chief swindle lay. Nearly every man drew a 'prize' and was at once
notified, on receiving the sum of five per cent. of the value, it would
be forwarded; and as the nature of the prize was not stated, but only
its nominal value in money, thousands of persons have, doubtless, sent
the five per cent., and will continue to send it, and receive in
exchange some worthless oil stock, or a similar valueless piece of
Even in this city, where the people should read the daily papers, and
be posted in such swindles, a large number have been victimized, two of
whom have furnished us with their experiences, which we give below:
The first is a young man, the son of a well-known politician in this
city, but who requests us to suppress his name. A few days since he
received the following note:
'You are hereby notified that one of your tickets has drawn a prize
valued at two hundred dollars. Five per cent. on this amount will be
ten dollars. This amount of assessed per centage must, in all cases, be
sent on receipt of this notice, with directions by what express you
wish the prize sent. Yours, very respectfully,
'CLARK, WEBSTER & CO.'
The young man, 'green' as he must have been to invest a dollar in the
swindling concern of the fictitious Clark, Webster & Co., was yet too
sharp to send the ten dollars without an investigation, and accordingly
went to a friend, a well-known banker of this city, and requested him
to correspond with reliable parties in New York, and ascertain the
responsibility of the parties, and, on doing so, Mr. Davis received the
'Office of Gwynne & Day, No. 7 New Street,
'New York, _Nov_. 12, 1867.
'Messrs.----& Co., Cincinnati, Ohio:
'Gentlemen: We have received your favor of the 9th, with enclosure as
'In regard to the prize drawn by--------, we went to Clark, Webster &
Co., to see about it. The prize consists of two hundred shares in the
Sand River Petroleum Company. We did not get it, as we do not know the
market value of the stock (and probably never will). We enclose it to
you, as we do not think it is worth ten dollars.
"'GWYNNE & DAY.'"
Another correspondent tells his story as follows:
CINCINNATI, _November_ 15.
Messrs. Editors: Last summer I was foolish enough to place sufficient
confidence in an advertisement of a "Grand Presentation Enterprise of
Merchants and Bankers of New York," that appeared in a Cincinnati paper
a number of times, as to invest one dollar in a ticket. The prizes
consisted of greenbacks, diamonds, watches, sewing machines, etc., to
be drawn October 24. A few weeks afterward I received a letter in which
I was requested to act as their agent in this city, for the sale of
their tickets, promising, in consideration thereof--in case my ticket
drew a blank--they would insure me a handsome present. But I did not
bite this time. Two or three other circulars were sent me after this;
one announcing the postponement of the drawing, to enable them to
dispose of all their tickets; another postponement was announced in
September, because their 'agents had sold more tickets than were
issued, so that now they were compelled to increase the number of
tickets from 1,300,000 to 1,500,000.' All this was announced in staring
In the latter part of October another circular was received, announcing
the commencement of a drawing on October 24th, and that it would take
two or three months to complete it, as they could draw and register but
10,000 per day; and also informing the 'lucky' ones, that upon being
notified that their ticket had drawn a prize, they were to remit
immediately five per cent. of the value of the prize, if under $500,
and ten per cent. if over $500; the money obtained in this way was to
be used to meet the extra expense incurred in printing the additional
tickets and in their distribution.
Soon after this I was notified my ticket had drawn a prize, valued at
$200, and I must remit them five per cent. of this within ten days, or
forfeit the prize. I wrote to a friend of mine in New York, to call at
62 Broadway, and ascertain if such a firm as Clark, Webster & Co.--the
firm name signed to the circular--held forth there, and, if so, to
present my ticket, and claim the prize.
He called, as requested, and writes me that there is no such firm
there. The 'Merchants' and Bankers' Grand Presentation Enterprise' is a
grand swindle, carried on by one Hill, who has been arrested a number
of times for swindling the public in this manner, but has, so far, by
the aid of money, freely used, managed to keep out of the Penitentiary.
When my friend presented the ticket, and demanded the two hundred
dollar prize, they offered him stock in an oil well out West, which
(well) is all a myth. So I concluded to retain the percentage, and
forfeit the 'prize.' In one of the circulars it is announced that a
second 'grand distribution' will take place this winter, and I make
this matter public that none of your readers may be deceived.
"ALMOST A VICTIM."
Complaints from the victims of this infamous swindle, became so
numerous, that the police authorities seized the premises of Clark,
Webster & Co., and all their books and papers. These last comprised six
truck loads, and contained printed or written directories of every city
and town in the Union. No such persons as Clark, Webster & Co., could
be found. A man calling himself William M. Elias, claimed to be the
owner of the books and papers, and endeavored to regain possession of
them by legal process. The Police Commissioners, knowing what use he
intended to make of them, refused to surrender them, and gave bonds.
Elias was arraigned before the Tombs Police Court, on a charge of
swindling, by some of his victims. The Court room was full of those
who had suffered by the grand lottery. The proceedings amounted to
nothing, and as the man left the Court room, he was followed by the
excited crowd, and severely pelted with snow balls, until the police
came to his assistance.
[Illustration: A Gift Enterprise Swindler Snowballed by his Victims.]
Messrs. Reade & Co., who profess to do business at No. 6 Clinton Hall,
Astor Place, are extensive swindlers. The police have made rigid
searches for them several times. They have arrested the clerks and
managers, but have failed to discover the principals, who, doubtless,
have no real existence.
A CLEVER SWINDLE.
Many of these swindlers adopt the following system. They send a
circular to some one in the country, notifying him that he has drawn a
prize in their lottery. The circular used by one of these firms is as
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK.
DEAR SIR: You are hereby notified that ticket No. 5,114, has drawn a
gold watch, valued at two hundred dollars. Five per cent. on the
valuation is ten dollars. The percentage must be paid or forwarded
within twelve days from the date of this notice.
Those receiving prizes, in the preliminary drawing, receive them with
this understanding, that they will either buy tickets in our grand
distribution that takes place in November, or use their influence in
every possible way to sell tickets. Any parties receiving this notice,
who are not willing to assist in our grand enterprise, will please
return the ticket and notice as soon as received.
HALLETT, MOORE & Co.,
Bankers and Financial Managers,
575 BROADWAY, NEW YORK.
By Order of the
NEW YORK JEWELLERS' CO-OPERATIVE UNION.
N. B.--No prizes will be shipped until the percentage is received.
We shall be ready in fifteen days to fill orders for tickets in the
grand distribution of five millions of dollars' worth of goods, the
drawing of which is to take place in the building of the New York
Jewellers' Cooperative Union, November 16, 1868.
By order of the BOARD OF DIRECTORS.
The person receiving this circular well knows that he has purchased no
ticket in the above concern, and at once supposes that he has received
through mistake the notification intended for some other man. Still, as
the parties offer to send him, for ten dollars, a watch worth two
hundred dollars, he cannot resist the temptation to close with the
bargain at once. He sends his ten dollars, and never hears of it again.
Another plan is to notify every one who has bought a ticket that he has
drawn a prize, and demand five per cent. on it. The value is always
stated at two hundred dollars, and the amount asked is ten dollars.
Strange as it may seem, this ruse succeeds in a majority of instances.
The luckless ticket holders are delighted with their good fortune, and
send the assessment at once. They never see their money or their prize.
The scoundrels who carry on these enterprises feel perfectly safe. They
know that their victims dare not prosecute them, as by purchasing a
ticket a man becomes a party to the transaction, and violates the laws
of the State of New York. No one cares to avow himself a party to any
such transaction, and consequently the swindlers are safe from
The post-office authorities of the city state that over five hundred
letters per day are received in this city from various parts of the
country, addressed to the principal gift establishments of the city.
Nearly all of these letters contain various sums of money. Last winter
these mails were seized and opened, by the Post-office Department, and
some of the letters were found to contain as much as three hundred
The profits of these swindlers are enormous. Those which are well
conducted realize half a million of dollars in three or four months.
Instead of resting satisfied with this amount, the rogues close up
their business, and start a fresh enterprise.
From this description the reader will see how the various gift
enterprises, under whatever name they are presented, are managed, and
how certain he is to lose every cent he invests in them. The
description applies also to the various Manufacturing and Co-operative
Jewelry Associations, and all schemes of a kindred nature.
JEWELRY ASSOCIATIONS OR UNIONS.
A recent publication contains the following clever description of the
way in which these associations are managed.
No doubt these enterprises are of the purest benevolence--at least such
is the impression their projectors seek to convey. That everybody who
wants a gold watch for a dollar may know how to get it, we copy the
following extract from the advertisement--without charge, on this
'One million certificates, bearing upon their face the names of the
articles as above enumerated, are each inclosed in plain envelopes, and
sealed, undistinguishable one from another, mixed and placed in a
repository, without choice, and they are drawn as ordered. The sealed
envelopes, containing certificates marked with the name of the article,
description, and marked price it entitles the holder to, will be sent
by mail to any address at twenty-five cents each; on receipt of the
certificates, the purchaser ascertains the exact article he is entitled
to, which he can obtain upon the return of the certificate and one
dollar to the office of the Association.'
Not wishing, however, to encourage too sanguine hopes, we would add an
account of the success of an experiment made last year by an
incredulous individual, who was so curious as to find out how it was
these people made money by selling gold watches for a dollar. He spent
a hundred dollars for the 'certificates' above referred to, and found
himself the lucky possessor of a lot of paper tickets purporting to
represent property to the value of two thousand one hundred and fifty-
three dollars, and this property he was entitled to receive on the
further payment of four hundred and fifty-eight dollars. Not wishing,
however, to impoverish these rashly-benevolent Samaritans, and
reflecting, perhaps, that he had already spent one hundred dollars, for
which he had as yet received nothing but 'certificates,' he selected a
hundred of those that promised the most valuable articles, and sent
them for redemption--paying another one hundred dollars for the
articles. He received a lot of watches, jewelry, gold pens, etc., of
which the nominal value was five hundred and ninety-nine dollars.
Very good investment of two hundred dollars, was it not? But stop a
minute. We said _nominal_ value. As the articles were all gold and
silver--at any rate, professed to be--it was easy to ascertain their
actual value; so they were sent to the United States Assay Office,
melted up, and a certificate of the net proceeds returned. And how much
does the ingenious reader suppose this five hundred and ninety-nine
dollars of gold and silver proved to be worth? _Just nine dollars and
sixty-two cents_ ($9.62)! That was what our friend got for the two
hundred dollars cash he had invested. And that is about what anybody
will get who chooses to invest money in enterprises of this kind.
The certificate jewelry business is, in fact, under whatever name
carried on, nothing but a gigantic fraud, extending far and wide over
the country, and causing many innocent but rather green people losses
they can ill afford. During the war, the soldiers were cheated
enormously by it. Millions of dollars have been paid for utterly
But it is not only in bogus jewelry that prizes are warranted. Gold
pens are held out as an inducement. What village poetaster or scribbler
for the weekly journal--enjoying a reputation among his acquaintances
for 'smart writing'--imagining himself a second Byron or another
Sylvanus Cobb, Jr., but what likes to sport a gold pen with 'silver
case' before the admiring eyes of friends or the envious glances of
rivals, as the instrument with which the flow of melody or pathetic
romance in the 'Trumpetown Blower' is produced. By such the circular of
the '-----Gold Pen Co.' sent through the post-office, is warmly
welcomed. A careful perusal, a comparison of the different styles and
prices, and then, of course, a remittance. The pen arrives in a
handsome velvet-lined box. A glance and the possessor is entranced; he
tries it, it writes smoothly, and forthwith it is cleaned, placed in
the pocket and carelessly shown by accident' to friends. Another
trial--alas! the ink sticks; the pen corrodes; the gold comes off; the
silver holder turns black; polishing fails to produce a shine, and
eventually it is apparent that a swindle has been perpetrated and that
the 'cheap gold pen' is, after all, but copper or brass; thousands of
these pens are sent in a week by express to all parts of the country
and as many dupes made to pay fifty times their value to the adroit
swindlers who manufacture them.
"The postmaster at Wakeman, Huron county, Ohio, having heard of this--
Pen Co., sent for a circular, which was at once forwarded. Selecting a
certain pen he remitted the money for it; in reply he received an old
copper pen not worth three cents; he immediately remonstrated in a
second letter, and a third, of which no notice was taken, and the
unfortunate United States official was obliged to consider himself
swindled. This is but an instance of many."
Remember, dear reader, there is no royal road to fortune. Keep your
money, or invest it more sensibly, for there is not one single gift
association in the world in which you will meet with anything but the
vilest deceit and dishonesty. You will be robbed in any and all of
The Dollar Stores of the land are mere humbugs. The articles sold are
dear at the prices asked. The watches are worthless, the diamonds and
other jewels are paste, and the gold is pinchbeck or Dutch metal. An
article for which they ask one dollar is worth in reality about ten
cents. On higher priced articles their profit is in proportion. A few
weeks' use will show the real value of a purchase made at one of these
Those employment agencies whose advertisements may be daily seen in our
city papers, are well exposed in the following experience of a young
man in want of a situation.
I have no trade or profession. My parents were well off in the world,
and; without thinking that their riches might take to themselves wings
and fly away, they considered it of no importance that I should become
master of anything but the graces of society. But misfortune did come
and left them without a dollar in the world, although neither of them
lived long to contend with poverty. I found myself illy adapted to
anything, and was, as you may well suppose, at a loss which way to
I applied to one or two acquaintances; but they could make no use of a
man who knew nothing at all of the ways of trade, or of the arts and
sciences; and so I was treated to not a few very gloomy forebodings.
While glancing over the columns of a daily newspaper, my eye rested on
the following advertisement.
'WANTED, clerks, copyists, collectors, timekeepers, watchmen, potters,
bartenders, coachmen, grooms, two valets to travel. Immediate
It was such a spontaneous affair; so general and so pliable that I
resolved to avail myself of some of its many chances. So I entered the
'office' with great expectations.
I am a good penman and at once resolved to take up the situation as
copyist, and using that as a foundation for future superstructure, to
do my best, early and late. I entered the room. There didn't seem to be
such a rush of applicants there as I had anticipated; in fact, the room
was entirely unoccupied, save by a flashy youth who seemed to be doing
his best to smoke himself out with a very bad segar. I mentioned my
errand to him and he instantly became very polite.
The proprietor was not in just then but would probably be in sometime
during the day. The first thing, however, for me to do, was to register
my name and pay a fee of two dollars, which would entitle me to the
situation I coveted. What was two dollars with a prospect of business
before me? I paid it and was told that I had better call in the
afternoon and see the proprietor.
I called again as he requested. The proprietor had been in, but a man
whose name was down ahead of mine had taken the place of copyist that
had kept my heart up so eagerly, and I should be obliged to wait until
a similar situation presented itself, when, of course, I should stand
first of all, or take up with something else. I asked about clerkships,
but a hasty glance at his book convinced him that everything had been
taken up, and that I had better call to-morrow.
Unwilling to lose my money without some attempt at securing a place, I
called again the next day. The flashy fellow of the day before was not
there, but in his place a black-whiskered man, with keen black eyes, so
small and retiring that you would scarcely be aware of his possessing
such assistants until he turned them fully upon you. This proved to be
the proprietor. To him I made known my wants. He nodded, placed the
book before me, and handed me a pen.
I explained my transactions of the day before, but he said that the fee
for each day encompassed only the chances for that day; that if I
desired to take my chances for this day I must again favor him with my
name and two dollars. This I refused to do, unless he would guarantee
me a situation similar to the ones he had advertised openings for, at
the same time expressing my disgust in warm, if not eloquent language.
But his assurances were so strong that, with his promise to give me a
note to a man who was then desirous of a copyist, I again enriched him
from my scanty stock of money. Taking the letter, I followed the
directions upon it until I was led into the fourth story of a building
on Nassau street. I found a man seated at a desk, whose voice and
general manner was strongly like the flashy individual whom I had met
at the 'agency' the day before. But his whole exterior was changed, and
as he seemed to be very busy over some writing, I did not have a good
chance to verify my suspicions.
He did not wish a copyist, but his friend Brown did, and was willing to
pay handsomely for such services. Unfortunately, however, Brown had
been called out of town on some important business, and would not be in
until the next day; but if I would have the kindness to leave my
address, there was no doubt but he would send for me there at once. I
wrote my address, but told him that I would call myself.
While I was allowing him to bow me out, I made some inquiries relative
to the responsibility of the 'agency,' and he gave it an unqualified
recommendation, speaking in such high terms of Mr. Bucker, the
proprietor, that I almost repented the few hard feelings I had indulged
in toward him. If Mr. Bucker enjoyed the confidence of the leading
merchants, he certainly was a man for me to trust.
I called the next day, and Mr. Brown was poising his feet upon his
desk, smoking, and soothing his heart in the columns of a newspaper. I
mentioned my name and business. He looked up, and in reply to my
question as to whether or not he was Mr. Brown who desired a copyist,
he said that he had the honor of being a Mr. Brown, but I must be
laboring under some misapprehension, if I supposed that he was in want
of a copyist. The Brown to whom I alluded, in all probability, had gone
to New Jersey, and owing to sundry unsettled accounts he would not be
likely to return so suddenly as he had departed. I explained my
position, but he disclaimed all knowledge of the affair, and would give
me no satisfaction whatever. I went back to the 'agency,' but on
inquiry I found that Mr. Bucker had sold out, and another swindler had
taken up the business of robbing the unwary poor.
I made my case known to the police, but a shrug of the shoulders was
all the consolation I received. Such swindlers do exist, they say, but
owing to the artful manner in which they conduct their business, it is
next to impossible to convict them.
"My object in sending you this for publication is to warn others. I
have since learned that the majority of these 'agencies' are
established on the same principle, and that not one in a hundred who
apply and pay their money ever receive a situation; that the merchants
and those whom they profess to represent have no faith and no
connection with them whatever."
THE PATENT SAFE GAME.
One of the most barefaced swindles ever practiced in New York has now
almost gone out of existence. It is called the "patent safe game," and
was much practiced during the late war, as many of our soldiers can
testify. It was carried on principally in the neighborhood of the
Hudson River Depot, and the complaints of the victims, to the police,
were loud and numerous. The mode of operation was as follows:
A stranger in the city would be accosted by a well-dressed individual,
who would immediately begin a careless, friendly conversation. If the
overtures of this individual are not repulsed in the first instance, he
is soon joined by his accomplice, who professes to be a stranger to
swindler number one.
The accomplice has in his possession a small brass ball or sphere,
which he says is the model of a patent safe, much used by merchants in
China and India. He is trying to introduce it in this country, and
would like to show the gentleman his model. This brass ball is, to all
appearance, solid, but to the initiated it is soon made hollow, by
pressing on a certain inner circle, when the centre of the ball, which
is in the shape of a small cone, drops out. The bottom of the cone may
be unscrewed, when a little chamber is revealed, in which is a long
piece of white paper, carefully folded and secreted. The other end of
the cone, the top of it, can be unscrewed, and a second chamber is
revealed, in which is a second piece of paper, exactly like the first.
Swindler number one takes the ball, examines it, and declares that it
must be solid. The accomplice then presses the spring, and the centre
drops out. He then unscrews one of the chambers, and reveals the paper
to the admiring stranger and swindler number one. The accomplice's
attention is here called away for a moment, and swindler number one,
quietly winking at the stranger, abstracts the paper from the chamber,
screws the lid on, and replaces the centre in the ball. Handing it back
to the accomplice, he whispers to the stranger that he is about to win
some money. He then bets the accomplice a sum which he thinks
proportioned to the means of the stranger, that there is no paper in
the ball. The bet is promptly taken by the accomplice. Swindler number
one finds that he has no money, and asks the stranger to lend him the
amount, offering to divide the winning with him. The stranger, who has
seen the paper abstracted from the ball, is sure his new-found friend
will win, and not being averse to making a little money on the spot,
produces the desired amount, and hands it to his friend. The accomplice
then opens the second chamber, reveals the duplicate piece of paper,
and claims the stakes. The stranger loses his money, and is taught a
useful lesson. He may apply to the police, if he wishes to do so, but
the probabilities are that he will never see either his "friends" of
the safe, or his money, again.
This is a common occurrence in New York, and it is well for strangers
to be on their guard against it.
A gentleman was once standing in front of a handsome show window on
Broadway, gazing at the wares it contained, when he felt himself tapped
on the shoulder. Looking around, he saw a well-dressed man standing by
him, holding in his hand a well-filled pocket-book.
"Did you drop this, sir?" asked the stranger. "I have just picked it up
at your feet."
"It is not mine," said the gentleman, feeling for his own wallet, and
finding it safe.
"Strange," said the man. "It was lying at your feet." As he spoke he
opened it, and revealed several heavy rolls of bills. "There must be
several thousand dollars here," he said.
"What are you going to do with it?" asked the gentleman.
"I don't know," said the man. "I'm a stranger in the city, and I am
compelled to leave town in a couple of hours. This pocket-book will
undoubtedly be advertised to-morrow, and as the amount it contains is
heavy, the reward will be large. Do you stay in town to-day, sir?" he
"Yes," said the gentleman, "I shall be here several days."
"Then I will turn the pocket-book over to you," said the man, after
thinking a moment. "You can advertise it. Give me twenty dollars, and
take the wallet."
"What do you suppose will be the reward offered?" asked the gentleman.
"Not less than fifty dollars. In that case you will make thirty dollars
"Why don't you keep the money?"
"Sir," said the man, sharply, "do you take me for a thief?"
"Not at all," was the reply. "I meant no offence." The gentleman was
thoughtful or a moment, and then drew out his wallet. The fellow, he
reasoned, was evidently an honest man. The owner of the wallet would
certainly reimburse him for the amount he paid the finder, and might
offer more and the contents of the wallet would insure him against
loss. He hesitated a moment longer, and then handed the man two ten
dollar bills. The stranger gave him the pocketbook, and after a few
words more, walked off.
At the first opportunity, the gentleman examined the notes in the
wallet carefully. They were all of the denomination of ten dollars, and
amounted in all to five thousand dollars, _but were each and every one
counterfeits of the very grossest character_. He had paid twenty
dollars for a lot of worthless trash, and the game was now plain to
This method of swindling is still very popular with the rogues of the
The headquarters of this game are in the neighborhood of the City Hall
and Printing-house Square.
"The 'little joker' is a very simple trick, and yet, from its very
simplicity, all the more successful in entrapping the unwary. The
apparatus is (occasionally) a small stand, three brass thimbles and a
little ball, resembling, in size and appearance, a green pea. Often the
former is dispensed with, and the crown of a hat or the knees used
instead. The 'rigger,' in the most _nonchalant_ manner imaginable,
places the ball apparently under one of the thimbles, in plain view of
the spectators, and offers to bet any sum that 'it isn't there.' Our
friend from the country who is looking on, an interested spectator--is
astonished at such a proposition, and looks upon the individual making
it as little better than a fool; for didn't he see the ball placed
under the thimble, and therefore must it not be there still? His idea
on this point is soon confirmed--a bystander takes up the bet, the
thimble is raised, and there sure enough is the ball--just where _he_
knew it was!
"Again the ball is covered, and once more the bet is offered. Eager to
prove his sagacity, our friend produces a 'V' or 'X spot' and covers
the sharper's money. The thimble is raised, a moment of expectation, a
single glance, and _the ball is gone_! A shout of laughter from the
swindler and his confederates standing around, announces the fact that
the gentleman from the rural districts has been 'sold.' Pocketing, not
his money, but his loss, the victim walks away disconsolate, painfully
conscious that he has been 'done,' not only out of his cash, but has
had the wool pulled over his eyes in a (to him) most incomprehensible
SEWING MACHINE SWINDLES.
The country newspapers are filled with advertisements of cheap sewing
machines. From one to ten dollars is the price asked. The men who
insert these advertisements are amongst the most unprincipled swindlers
in New York. The machines they offer for sale are worthless.
A lady living in a neighboring State once sent five dollars to one of
these fellows for his machine, and received in return a flimsy little
instrument, so small that she could put it in her pocket. The needle
could not be used at all, and after turning the handle a few times the
cranks and wheels became bent, and twisted into one confused and
useless mass. The machine was not worth twenty-five cents.
A fellow, some time ago, advertised a machine for fifty cents, and
proclaimed it to the world as "the most perfect ever invented." It was
simply a brass instrument in the shape of a fly, and the only use to
which it could be put was to fasten work to a table. It was so flimsy
that it did not last more than two or three days in this way.
THE POCKET TIME KEEPER.
Almost every reader of this book has seen in some newspaper the
advertisements of the various "Pocket Time-Keepers," manufactured and
offered for sale in this city. The price is usually one dollar. The
article is merely a _pasteboard sun-dial_. The purchaser can make
little or no use of it, and is swindled out of his money.
The day of mock auctions has gone by, but there are still one or two of
these establishments lingering in the city. These are managed in
At some of these establishments a lot of pencil cases, watches, or
other goods, is offered for-sale. The lot generally contains a dozen or
a gross of articles. Bids are started by the "decoys" of the
proprietor, who are scattered through the crowd, and strangers are thus
induced to make offers for them. Each man supposes he is bidding for a
single lot, and is greatly astonished to find the whole lot knocked
down to him. He is told he must take the entire lot, that his bid was
for all. Some are weak enough to comply with the demand, but others
Admiral Farragut, during the war, made a bid for a penknife at one of
these places, and was astonished at being told he must take the whole
gross of the article. The old hero was not to be caught in this way,
however, and he quietly called in a policeman, and gave the auctioneer
in charge for attempting to swindle him.
[Illustration: A Mock Auction--Kicked Out After Being Fleeced.]
A well-known Broadway auctioneer was brought before the Mayor, some
time ago, on the following complaint. A gentleman, who appeared against
the auctioneer, stated that he had attended his last sale. The
auctioneer put up a box containing twelve silver pencil-cases, and the
gentleman, supposing from his manner and language, that he was selling
them fairly, bid two dollars and fifty cents for the lot. To his
surprise, he was told that he had bid two dollars and fifty cents for
_each_ pencil-case, and that he must pay thirty dollars for the whole
lot. The money had been paid and the auctioneer refused to return it,
insisting that the gentleman should take one pencil-case or nothing.
The Mayor compelled the scamp to refund the money, and warned him that
he would revoke his license if a similar complaint were again made
In some of these establishments, a stranger who attempts to remonstrate
against the swindle fares badly. He is hustled out by the confederates
of the proprietor, and if he attempts to defend himself, is handed over
to the police on a charge of attempting to create a disturbance.
Other establishments sell watches and cheap jewelry. A really good
article is put up, and passed around through the crowd as a sample. It
draws bids rapidly, and is knocked down to the highest bidder. It has
by this time been handed back to the auctioneer, and when the purchaser
demands it, he is given some worthless article, which the dealer and
his assistants swear was the one exhibited to the crowd. Remonstrances
are useless. The bogus article must be taken or the money lost, unless
the victim calls in the police. The city authorities have recently
stationed a policeman at the door of one of these establishments, to
warn strangers of its true character.
A friend of the writer--a "verdant countryman," too--once attended one
of these auctions. A magnificent hunting-case watch was put up, and
knocked down to John, as we shall call him, at the low price of ten
dollars. As the announcement of the sale was made, John, who had his
money in his hand, stepped briskly to the desk.
"Will you let me see that watch a minute?" he asked.
"Certainly, sir," said the auctioneer, handing him the watch.
"That's a magnificent watch," said John, admiringly, "and I think I got
it pretty cheap!"
"Yes," replied the man, "that's the cheapest watch I ever sold."
"Well," said John, putting the watch in his pocket, and laying his ten
dollars on the desk, "I'm very well satisfied with my bargain."
The auctioneer, alarmed for the repeater, which was his own, exclaimed
"We generally give a case with our watches, sir; let us fit one on
"No," said John, quietly, as he turned away, "I'm satisfied with the
watch--I don't want a case!"
He walked leisurely away, but the auctioneer sprang after him.
"That watch is not for sale," said the man, angrily.
"It's bought and paid for," said John, coolly, buttoning his coat
across his breast.
"I don't want your money, I want my watch!" shouted the man.
"It was a fair sale!" said John. "Gentlemen," he exclaimed, turning to
the crowd, "I appeal to you. Was not it a fair sale?"
"Yes!" "Yes!" "Keep the watch!" cried the spectators, delighted that,
for once, the sharper had met his match.
[Illustration: How a Countryman "Bought a Watch."]
A policeman now approached, and John, stating the circumstances of the
case to him, placed himself under his protection. The officer and the
crowd accompanied him to his hotel, which he reached in safety. He left
for home the next morning, taking his prize with him, and to this day
boasts that he was "rather too much for New York, if he was from the
LOST IN THE GREAT CITY.
In a side-room of the main hall of the Central Police Headquarters, on
the second story, in Mulberry street, is a desk at which sits an old
rosy-cheeked, white-headed police officer, named McWaters. McWaters is
famous in New York. He is the theatrical critic of the Police
Department. His opinions on music and the drama are of weighty
authority among members of the force, and, like most critics, he is
dogmatic and forcible.
But, McWaters is at present known to fame as being the officer
detailed, by Inspector George Dilks, to take charge of a department
organized in November, 1867, to supply a great want, and which is now
in successful operation. This department is known as the "Bureau for
the Recovery of Lost Persons." Officer McWaters was formerly in the
City Hall Precinct, under Captains Thorne and Brackett, and is very
well acquainted with the city, so his services have been made available
in this new bureau.
MISSING MEN AND WOMEN.
The manner of investigation in regard to a missing relative or friend,
is as follows: As soon as a person disappears from home, the nearest
relative, on learning of the missing person, goes to police
headquarters, and makes application to the 'Missing Bureau' for
information. The age, height, build--whiskers, if any--color of eyes,
dress, hair, the place where last seen--the habits and disposition of
the person?--are given to the inspectors, and officer McWaters makes
proper entries on his register, which he keeps for that purpose, of all
these facts. The personal description of the missing person is compared
with the returns made by the Morgue every twenty-four hours to the
police inspectors. Should the description answer to the person and
clothing of any person found at the Morgue, word is at once sent to the
relatives of the joyful news. Besides this, another very necessary
precaution is taken to find the person or persons missing. Cards are
printed, five or six hundred in number, and sent to all the police
officers on special duty in the different metropolitan precincts, with
instructions to the captains to have his men make active and energetic
search for the person.
THEORIES ABOUT LOST PEOPLE.
Over seven hundred people have been reported as missing to police
headquarters during the past twelve months. Of this number, a majority
have been found, it is believed, as no record can be kept of those who
are not reported when found, by their relatives or friends, to
headquarters. Occasionally, a person who reports some one missing,
belonging to them, will give all the details about him--but, if found,
will fail to notify the authorities, from a sense of shame, where
domestic difficulties have occurred in families, or from laziness, or a
sense of forgetfulness. Thus, all track is lost of those who have been
found, unknown to the police, and accurate statistics are baffled in
the matter of inquiry.
WHERE AND HOW PEOPLE ARE LOST.
The manner in which missing men are advertised is as follows. A card,
of which the following are fair examples, is circulated among the
OFFICE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF
METROPOLITAN POLICE, 300 MULBERRY STREET
NEW YORK, _January_ 11,1868.
MISSING.--Since Thursday evening last--Mary Agnes Walsh; twenty-three
years of age, residing at 281-1/2 Elizabeth street, five feet high,
medium size, slim built, dark complexion, dark brown hair, dark eyes,
had on a black alpaca dress, black plush coat (or cloak), black velvet
hat. It is supposed she is wandering about the city in a temporary
state of insanity, as she has just returned from the Lunatic Asylum,
where she has been temporarily confined for the last three weeks. Any
information of the above to be sent to her brother, Andrew Walsh,
2811/2 Elizabeth street, or to Inspector Dilks, 300 Mulberry street.
MISSING.--Morton D. Gifford, about twenty-five years of age, light
hazel eyes, brown hair, full beard and moustache same color, height
five feet six and three quarter inches, has lost the two first joints
off the middle fingers of right hand. Had on a light brown cloth suit
bound with black, the vest cut without a collar, a black cloth overcoat
made sack fashion, with black velvet buttons. Was last seen on board
the steamer City of Norfolk, running between Norfolk and Crisfield, in
connection with the Crisfield, Wilmington, and Philadelphia Railroad,
Annamesic line, on the 3d of February, 1868. Had with him a black
leather satchel, containing a full suit of black clothes, hat, linen,
etc. Was a soldier in the Union army, and has recently been in business
in Plymouth, North Carolina. Any person having any information
regarding him will please communicate with Inspector Dilks, 300
Mulberry street, New York.
MISSING--Since Thursday, November 14--John F. McCormack; when last
seen he was on board the steam-tug Yankee, at the foot of Charlton
street; age twenty-four years, eyes and hair dark brown, height five
feet four inches, heavy eyebrows. He was dressed in a brown sack coat
and brown vest, black pants, flat-crowned black hat. Any person knowing
his whereabouts, or having seen him since the above date, will please
call at the residence of his uncle, Robert McCormack, No. 12 Talman
street, Brooklyn, or on Inspector Dilks, police headquarters, 300
Mulberry street. November 30, 1867.
FIFTY DOLLARS REWARD.--Missing from Bay street, Stapleton, Staten
Island, since Wednesday, November 25, 1868, Willy Hard grove, a boy
eight years of age, medium size, dark hair, dark, clear complexion,
blue eyes; has a recent scar on his cheek, made by the scratch of a
pin; dressed in a dark striped jacket and pants; the pants button on
the jacket with light bone buttons; old, strong boots, no hat. He is
rather an attractive boy and very familiar with strangers. It is feared
he has been abducted, from the fact of his musical abilities. He can
sing in a good tenor voice any tune he may hear once played, but can't
speak plain. The above reward will be paid by his father, Terence M.
Hardgrove, Stapleton, for such information as will lead to his
recovery. Information may be sent to Inspector Dilks, police
headquarters, 300 Mulberry street.
MISSING.--Annie Hearn left her home on Monday last. She is ten years of
age, dark blue eyes, black hair cut short, has a slight scar on her
left temple. Was dressed in a dark alpaca frock, black woollen sontag
with white border, black velvet hat, no-trimming, high laced boots,
striped stockings. Any information relative to her will be gratefully
received by Richard Burk, 217 Madison street, or Inspector Dilks, 300
LEFT HER HOME, at Hyde Park, Scranton City, Pa., on Monday June 14,
Sarah Hannaghan, aged fifteen, tall for her age, short brown hair,
light eyes and fair complexion. Had on a tan-colored dress, light cape,
drab hat, trimmed with ribbon of the same color. Had with her a dress
with a yellow stripe, made short. Information to be sent to Inspector
Dilks, 300 Mulberry street, New York, or to James Hannaghan, 152
TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS REWARD, will be paid for information that will lead
to the arrest or recovery of Henrietta Voss, aged sixteen years. She
left Seacusus, Hudson county, New Jersey, Tuesday, July 21, about 7 A.
M. She is tall, slim built, and a little stooped; brown hair, blue
eyes, long thin pale face. Dressed in a full suit of black. The
gratitude of a father, who desires to save his daughter, will be added
to the above reward. JOHN Voss.
TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS REWARD.--Missing, an insane man, named Frederick
Liebrich, native of Germany, speaks English, German, and French.
Supposed to lodge at night in the police station houses about the lower
part of the city, is very stupid looking, and clothed in rags. Was last
seen in Washington market, about the middle of last November. He is
about thirty-eight years of age, eyes and hair black, large regular
features, and very dark complexion, about five feet ten inches high,
stout built, straight and well made. The above reward will be paid for
his recovery, or direct evidence of his death; by Frederick Cummick, 82
Washington street, Brooklyn. Information to be sent to Inspector Dilks,
police headquarters, 300 Mulberry street.
"Hundreds of 'Lost Children' bear testimony to the carelessness of
mothers and nurses who are more intent on other business, when their
charges stray off to be found afterwards in out of the way places by
stray policemen. Quite often a pedestrian will notice, on going along
one of our side streets, a young child, its eyes bubbling over with
tears, and red from irritation and inflammation, who has strayed from
its parents' residence. Sometimes it will have a stick of candy in its
infantile fists, or else an apple, or a slice of bread, butter, and
molasses to console it in its wanderings. It is very seldom, however,
that these children do not find their way back to their parents, unless
that there is foul play, as in such instances where a child may be
kidnapped by people who are childless, or through their agency, for the
purpose of adoption in barren families. The practice of baby-farming
has not as yet attained, in America, the height that it has reached in
England, and therefore the lives of children are not yet so endangered
as they are across the water. It is calculated that at least one
thousand children are missing every year in this city, but they are
nearly all returned before the close of the day on which they are first
THE DENS OF MIDNIGHT.
"If the thousand and one noisome crannies, nooks, and dens of this
great city could be exposed to view, day after day, the bodies of many
a missing man and woman might be found festering and rotting, or their
bones bleaching for want of decent burial. Where do the bodies come
from that are fished up, bloated and disfigured, night after night, by
the harbor police, in haunts of the docks and from the slime of the
Hudson? It is fearful to think of men influenced by liquor, who, with
their gold watches, pocket-books, and other valuables exposed in the
most foolish manner, are to be seen, night after night, in the dens and
hells of this great, sinful city. Many of these men are from far off
country villages and happy homes, and when thrown into our streets at
night under the flare of the gas lamps, and among crowds of showily
dressed women, whose feet are ever downward into the abyss, it becomes
almost impossible for them to resist the thousand and one meretricious
temptations that are placed before them."
THE HORROR OF A BREAKING DAWN.
"Instances may be related of how men disappear and are never heard of
to be recognized. A well-to-do person from Ohio, who had never visited
New York before, pays a visit to this city, and, stopping at a down-
town hotel, sallies out in the evening in search of what he has been
taught by his limited course of reading to call 'adventures.' He
believes, in his Ohio simplicity, that he will meet with a beautiful
and rich young lady in New York who, struck with his rural graces and
charms, will at once accept his hand and farm. Well, he takes a look at
the 'Black Crook,' or 'White Fawn,' or 'Genevieve de Brabant,' and
returning late to his down-town hotel is struck by the beauty and grace
of a female form that glides before him on his way down town. Pretty
soon she makes a signal to him that cannot be mistaken, and our Ohio
friend, rather astonished at the freedom of the aristocratic and well-
bred ladies of the metropolis, but nothing loth, hastens to her side,
and accompanies her to her richly voluptuous mansion in Bleecker,
Green, Mercer, or Crosby streets. In the watches of the night he
awakens to find the aristocratic lady fastened on his throat, and a
male friend of hers, with a villainous countenance, poising a knife for
a plunge in his neck. The work is done quickly, a barrel well packed,
or a furniture chest, placed in a carriage at night, can be taken up
the Hudson River road and there dropped in the river, and after a day
or so the head of another dead man will be found eddying and floating
around the rolling piers near the Battery, his face a pulp, and no
longer recognizable. The sun shines down on the plashing water, but the
eyes are sightless, and never another sun can dim their brilliancy or
splendor. It is only another missing man without watch, pocket-book, or
money on his person."
MISERY, SHAME, AND DEATH.
Another missing instance. A beautiful maiden, born in a village on the
Sound, where the waters of that inland sea beat and play around the
sandy pebbles of a land-locked inlet, is reared in innocence and virtue
until she reaches her seventeenth year. She is as lovely as the dawn,
and her life, peaceful and happy, with no greater excitement than the
Sunday prayer-meeting, has never been tainted by the novelty of desire.
At seventeen, she visits New York for the first eventful time in her
life. She is dazzled with its theatres, its balls, its Central Park,
the Broadway confuses and intoxicates her, but opera has divine charms
for her musical ear, and she is escorted night after night by a man
with a pleasing face and a ready tongue. She is yet pure as the
undriven snow. One night she takes a midnight sleigh ride on the road,
and they stop at a fashionable-looking restaurant in Harlem Lane or on
the road. She is persuaded to take a glass of champagne. She is finally
persuaded to drink an entire bottle of champagne. That night the world
is torn from under her feet. She has tasted of the apples of death. She
returns to her peaceful home by the silken waves of the Sound a
dishonored woman. To hide her shame she returns to New York, but her
destroyer has gone--she knows not whither. Then the struggle begins for
existence and bread. She is a seamstress, a dry-goods clerk, but her
shame finds her out when an infant is born to her, unnamed. One night,
hungry, and torn with the struggle of a lost hope, she rushes into the
streets and seeks the river. On a lone pier she seeks refuge from her
'lost life.' The night-watchman, anxious about the cotton and rosin
confided to his charge, does not hear the cry of 'Mother' from a
despairing girl, or the plunge into the gloomy, silent river below. She
is not found for days after, and then her once fair face is gnawed
threadbare with the incisors of crabs, and the once white neck, rounded
as a pillar of glory, is a mere greenish mass of festering corruption
She is not recognized, and thus fills the page devoted to missing
people. [Footnote: New York World.]
Our task is done. We have told, as far as we are capable of telling,
the secrets of this great and growing city. Our purpose has been two-
fold, to satisfy a reasonable curiosity on the part of those who never
have seen, and probably never will see New York, and to warn those who
design visiting the city, of the dangers and temptations which await
them here. We warn them earnestly to confine their visits to the
numerous harmless and innocent attractions of the Metropolis, and to
shun those other, darker quarters of the city, which are but so many
gateways to the paths that lead down to ruin and death.
And How they Lived, Fought and Died for the Union,
WITH SCENES AND INCIDENTS IN THE GREAT REBELLION
_Comprising Narratives of Personal Adventure, Thrilling
Incidents, Daring Exploits, Heroic Deeds, Wonderful
Escapes, Life in the Camp, Field and Hospital,
Adventures of Spies and Scouts. Together with
the songs, Ballads, Anecdotes, and Humorous
Incidents of the War._
Embellished with over 100 Fine Portraits and Engravings.
* * * * *
There is a certain portion of the War that will never go into the
regular histories, nor be embodied in romance or poetry, which is a
very real part of it, and will, if preserved, convey to succeeding
generations a better idea of the spirit of the conflict than many dry
reports or careful narratives of events; and this part may be called
the Gossip, the Fun, the Pathos of the War. This illustrates the
character of the leaders, the humor of the soldiers, the devotion of
women, the bravery of men, the pluck of our heroes, the romance and
hardships of the service.
From the beginning of the war the author has been engaged in collecting
all the anecdotes connected with or illustrative of it, and has grouped
and classified them under appropriate heads, and in a very attractive
Prominent among the sparkling contents of this work, and which give to
its four departments their peculiar attractiveness, may be named:--
Striking Instances of loyalty to the flag, and valor in its defence;
Bravery on the Battle-Field and Quarter-Deck; Examples of Youthful
Courage in the storm of Combat; Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry in line
of action--the tramp and onset; extraordinary fortitude under
suffering; undaunted heroism in death; the roll of fame and story.
Reminiscences of victory and disaster of Camp Picket, Spy, Scout,
Bivouac and Siege, with feats of Daring, Bold and Brilliant Marches,
Remarkable Cases of Sharp-Shooting, Hand-to-Hand Encounters, Startling
Surprises, Ingenious Strategy, Celebrated Tactics, Wonderful Escapes,
Comical and Ludicrous Adventures on Land and Sea; Wit, Drollery and
Repartee, Famous Words and Deeds of Women, Sanitary and Hospital
Scenes, Prison Experiences, Partings and Re-unions, Last Words of the
Dying, with affecting illustrations of the home affections and
mementoes of the tender passion; final scenes and events in the great
Drama, and all those momentous hours, acts and movements, the memory of
which will live in letters of blood before the eyes, and burn like fire
in the hearts of those who participated in them. These, sifted like
gold, are here presented in all their attractions. Thus the rank and
file, as well as the superior officers, both North and South, are made
illustrious in these pages by whatever of valor, skill or achievement
personally distinguished them.
Amusement as well as instruction may be found in every page, as graphic
detail, brilliant wit and authentic history are skilfully interwoven in
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