Green’s Dictionary of Slang

mace n.

also macing
[ety. unknown; poss. link to mason n.1 ; SE mace, a club, but the violence is only fig.; or ? SE face]

1. a swindle, a fraud, confidence tricks.

Ordinary of Newgate his Account 13 Jan. 35/2: The Mace is perform’d by Confederacy, one or two Persons take a House, and then get what quantity of Goods they can with Credit, and then go off with them.
[UK]London Chronicle 15–17 Mar. 258/1 n.p.: They have almost reduced Cheating to a Science; and have affixed technical Terms to each Species; three of which are the Pinch, the Turn, and the Mace.
[UK]New Cheats of London Exposed 56: Swindling and the Mace are the newest methods of deceiving .
[UK]W. Perry London Guide 56: I answered that I myself was mace, but I could come it the cue. Here the bon mot consist in turning the tap-keeper’s noun mace into the verb mace, to cheat.
[UK]Egan Life in London (1869) 321: [note] It is a rather curious coincidence, that the name of the proprietor of All-Max should be Mace, which is a slang term for imposition or robbery!
[UK] ‘Six Years in the Prisons of England’ in Temple Bar Mag. Nov. 535: Macing means taking an office, getting goods sent to it, and then bolting with them; or getting goods sent to your lodgings, and then removing.
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 502: The following people used to go in there [i.e. an underworld public house] — toy-getters (watch-stealers), magsmen (confidence-trick men), men at the mace (sham loan offices), broadsmen (card-sharpers), peter-claimers (box-stealers), busters and screwsmen (burglars), snide-pitchers (utterers of false coin), men at the duff (passing false jewellery), welshers (turf-swindlers), and skittle sharps.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 95: Those of the High Mob were the flourishing practitioners in burglary, the mag, the mace, and the broads, with an outer fringe of such dippers —such pickpockets — as could dress well, welshers and snidesmen.
[US]K. McGaffey Sorrows of a Show Girl Ch.x n.p.: One old frump that must have been tramming a mace in the Roman Hanging Gardens got a yen that was doing imitations.
[US]Lincoln (NE) Daily News 2 Aug. 3-A: I figger dat he’s a fall-gink f’r de Jav’ t’ing, an’ so I slips him wot I call de Mocha mace.
[UK] in G. Tremlett Little Legs 195: mace or macing confidence trickery.

2. a confidence trickster, a swindler, ‘a rogue assuming the character of a gentleman, or opulent tradesman, who under that appearance defrauds workmen, by borrowing a watch, or other piece of goods till one [that] he bespeaks is done [swindled] ’ (Grose, 1785).

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 34: The Mace is a man who [...] borrows one [a watch] and steals another, so the tradesman is two watches out of pocket.
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: The mace is a rogue assuming the character of a gentleman, or opulent tradesman, who under that appearance defrauds workmen, by borrowing a watch, or other piece of goods till one [that] he bespeaks is done.
[UK]Satirist (London) 28 Aug. 166/1: When he has thrown in five or six times, the ‘Mace’ generally becomes apprehensive that his dice may be detected ; and therefore, under the specious pretence that he has exhausted their luck, calls for fresh dice.
[UK]Sam Sly 5 May 1/1: Our artist has depicted above one of the spoonies we have referred to playing with the mace, whilst his adversary chuckles at his certainly coming victory.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 61: MACE, a dressy swindler who victimises tradesmen.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].

3. (UK Und.) credit.

[UK]J.J. Connolly Viva La Madness 362: Everything is bail or mace — credit — in the wholesale game; everything is done on good faith.

In compounds

mace-cove (n.) (also mace, macing cove) [cove n. (1)]

1. a confidence trickster, a swindler.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Mace Cove. A swindler, a sharper, a cheat.
[UK]W. Perry London Guide vi: [...] to say nothing of mere cheats, mace-coves, and such like.
[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 116: The mace-cove is he who will cheat, take in, or swindle as often as may be.
[UK]Taunton Courier 18 June 3/3: The splendid mace-coves, swindlers [...] who confederate in divers schemes of plunder, are all to be traced to the King’s Bench or Fleet Prison.
[UK]R.B. Peake Devil In London I iii: We’ve our mace coves, and our big wigs, and everything regular, I can tell you.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]Dly Dispatch (Richmond, VA) 1 Nov. 3/3: When you hear of a ‘mace cove’ put the man down as a false pretence man or a swindler.
[Aus]C. Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 48: Mace Cove, a fellow who lives by swindling.
[UK](con. 1835–40) P. Herring Bold Bendigo 200: Either the horses have gnashed their leading strings and bolted, or some mace coves have prigged the prads.

2. (UK Und.) a housebreaker.

[UK]W. Perry ‘Vocabulary’ in London Guide x: Mace Cove, Ding Cove, are 1. a cheating fellow; 2. a robbing fellow.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 9/2: Kino, the macing cove, kidded on a dollymop where the bloak’s got a swag of sheen. Kino’s cocum, and he’s stagging to crack the crib. Kino, the housebreaker, enticed a servant-girl (to keep his company) where the master has a quantity of plate. Kino’s wary, and he is watching to break into the house.
maceman (n.)

1. a confidence trickster.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum.
[UK]Westmorland Gaz. 6 June 3/5: Tho’ poor, the sire of Henry Broom (My father, Broom, by trade a ‘mace-man’).
[UK]Western Times 8 Aug. 3/3: The Mace-Man shouts no more in glee [...] Convinc’d his end is come!
[UK]G.A. Sala Twice Round the Clock 153: We have plenty of rogues in our body corporate yet. [...] the nightside of London is fruitful in ‘macemen,’ ‘mouchers,’ and ‘go-alongs.’.

2. an élite criminal.

[UK]Daily News 5 Jan. 5, col. 2: The victim appears [...] to have been at once pounced upon by two macemen, otherwise ‘swell mobsmen’ [F&H].
[UK]Clarkson & Richardson Police! 260: Nearly 200 were first-class thieves or ‘swell-mobsmen;’ 600 ‘macemen’ and trade-swindlers.

In phrases

on the mace (also upon the mace)

1. (UK Und.) living as a swindler.

Ordinary of Newgate his Account 13 Jan. 35/2: He [...] proposed to go upon the Mace.
[UK]New Cheats of London Exposed 57: The most artful deception of the swindlers [...] is what is called going upon the mace.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Mace Cove. A swindler, a sharper, a cheat. On the mace; to live by swindling.
[UK]Bell's Life in London 3 Oct. 3/1: The New Police was nothing more nor less than thieves in disguise — he meant coves what had been ‘on the mace,’ and now turned their noses on their companions.
[US]Whip & Satirist of NY & Brooklyn (NY) 14 May n.p.: How long have you been on the mace, / And studied how to do?
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.

2. on credit.

[UK]G. Parker View of Society II 32: A Dining-room elegantly furnished upon the Mace receives you whenever it is necessary to admit your visits.
W.T.Moncrieff Heart of London ii I: He’s been working on the mace [F&H].
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. 61: ‘Give it to him (a shopkeeper) on the mace,’ i.e. obtain goods and credit and never pay for them, also termed ‘striking the mace.’.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict. [as cit. 1859].
[UK]P.H. Emerson Signor Lippo 100: When a regiment is coming home or a ship is to be paid off. He’ll go aboard and let the skates have a watch, nine carat gold chain coloured up to eighteen carat, letting ’em have the super and slang on mace, for he gets to know their account, and he puts the pot on ’em settling day. The Tommies he works by weekly instalments.
strike the mace (v.)

to persuade a shopkeeper to sell one goods on credit, although one has no intention of ever making that credit good; to borrow from friends without intending repayment.

[UK]Vaux Vocab. of the Flash Lang. in McLachlan (1964) 252: mace: to mace a shopkeeper, or give it to him upon the mace, is to obtain goods on credit, which you never mean to pay for; to run up a score with the same intention, or to spunge upon your acquaintance, by continually begging or borrowing from them, is termed maceing, or striking the mace.
work (on) the mace (v.)

to swindle.

[UK]W.T. Moncrieff Heart of London II i: He’s been working on the Mace – doing it up very blue, and so they’ve lumbered him for a few moons.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 154: He did not vulgar thievery: he never screwed a chat, nor claimed a peter, nor worked the mace.