Green’s Dictionary of Slang

wiper n.

1. a (cotton) handkerchief.

[UK]Jonson Masque of Owls n.p.: Wipers for their noses [F&H].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[US]J. Blewitt ‘Jim Crow’ [lyrics] I tie a wiper round my neck.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]‘Edmund Kirke’ Down in Tennessee 94: Quick, Leftenant! guv me yer wiper.
[US]W.H. Thomes Bushrangers 284: Hopeful’s remarks were caused by Hackett suddenly stooping and picking up a handkerchief stained with blood [...] ‘It’s her wiper,’ the young man said.
[UK]Morpeth Herald 27 Oct. 5/3: If a thief took a silk pocket handkerchief it was called a ‘solicitor’, but if it was only a cotton one, a ‘wiper’ .
[UK]H. Nisbet Bushranger’s Sweetheart 32: ‘Wiper not so safe though, eh?’ He produced and flourished gracefully his silk handkerchief.

2. a severe physical blow, a harsh verbal attack, anything that will overwhelm an opponent.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 1344/1: from mid-1840s.

3. an impudent boy.

[UK]‘F. Anstey’ Vice Versa (1931) 39: An ill-conditioned young wiper as ever I see.

4. a thug, a person who delivers physical blows.

[UK]G.R. Sims Dagonet Ballads 106: He got slick away, / And we’ve never heard nowt o’ the wiper, not a whisper.

5. (US Und.) a hired killer.

[US]J.L. Kuethe ‘Prison Parlance’ in AS IX:1 28: wiper. A gunman.
[US]Howsley Argot: Dict. of Und. Sl.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad.

6. see wiper-drawer

In compounds

wiper-drawer (n.) (also wipe-drawer, wipe-hauler, wiper)

(UK Und.) a stealer of handkerchiefs; thus wipe-drawing, wipe-hauling.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Wiper-drawer c. a Handkerchief Stealer.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Wiper Drawer. A pickpocket, one who steals handkerchiefs. He drew a broad, narrow, cam, or specked wiper; he picked a pocket of a broad, narrow, cambrick, or coloured handkerchief.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Wipe Drawer. A pickpocket, one who steals handkerchiefs.
[UK]Dickens Oliver Twist (1966) 350: Serve me so again, and us two’ll dance upon nothing [...] or you ain’t a wiper and my name ain’t Bill Sykes.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 61: Doesn’t Bill stand chaff well – out and out – don’t get shirty at all; send I may live, if Billy arnt one of the cleanest wipe drawers as is, and a hout and hout tout for a pall or a mot.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 97: wipe-hauler, a pickpocket who commits great depredations upon gentlemen’s pocket-handkerchiefs.
[UK]E. de la Bédollière Londres et les Anglais 318/2: wiper drawers, filous dont la spécialité est dé faire le mouchoir.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 414: I used to prac-tize wipe-hauling, tail-buzzing, and thimble-twisting.

In phrases

draw a/the wiper (v.) (also bite the wiper, nap…, nim a/the wiper)

(UK Und.) to steal a pocket handkerchief.

[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Nim the Wiper, c. to Steal the Handkerchief. [Ibid.] Nap the Wiper, c. to Steal the Handkerchief [Ibid.] Bite the wiper c. to Steal the Hand-kerchief. [Ibid.] He drew a broad, narrow, cam, or Speckt Wiper, c. He Pickt-pockets of a broad, or narrow, Ghenting, Cambrick, or Colour’d Handkerchief.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) II 202: Bite the wiper c. to Steal the Hand-kerchief.
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Pope Mother Gin 9: The feeding kids that wipers bite (A kid signifies, in the Canting Dialect, a child; and to bite the wiper is to steal the handkerchief).
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Flash Dict. n.p.: drawing a wiper picking a pocket of a handkerchief.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 118/1: Drawing a Wiper picking a pocket of a handkerchief.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.