Green’s Dictionary of Slang

thimble-rig v.

[thimble-rig n.]

to conduct a game of thimble-rig n. (1) and defraud the players; also fig. see cite 1863.

[UK]New Sporting Mag. June 89/2: After the race there was the usually popping of Champagne-corks, broaching of beer, eating of sandwiches, beating of drums, [...] tumbling, juggling, thimble-rigging, gambling, &c &c.
[UK]New Mthly Mag. pt. 2 367: As a field for fraud, as an arena for the exercise of robbery, only a little more lawful than that of picking pockets — as a sanctuary for thimble-rigging and ring-dropping upon a grand scale — the race-course is yearly becoming narrower.
[UK]Manchester Courier 29 June 2/3: All the group were engaed in the science of thimble-rigging .
[Aus]Sthn Australian (Adelaide) 24 Mar. 2/5: Witness the following specimen [of slang] which we have culled out of his last article [...] thimble-rigging—black legs— sharp practitioners and swindlers.
[UK]Chester Chron. 25 June 6/6: ‘Charley-pitchers’ are men who frequent fairs and races, and who are versed in the iniquities and mysteries of roulette and thimble-rigging.
[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor (1968) III 111: I never practised thimble-rigging myself for I never approved of it as a practice.
[Aus]Argus (Melbourne) 14 Sept. 5/3: ‘Harry Bryant’ and the other ‘Old Jemmy’ who were regular thimble-riggers, had been caught thimblerigging more than once.
[UK]Preston Chron. 5 Dec. 6/4: From the sleek physician to the money-coining quack, from the fine-tailed professor to the thimble-rigging pill-grinder.
Sporting Life (London) 16 June 2/5: Without ‘thimble rigging,’ ‘pricking the garter,’ and ‘the three card trick’ no ordinary account of a race meeting [...] is considered complete.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 28 Dec. 5/2: At the same time he was working a a little thimble rigging joint, offering extravagant odds that ‘no gent oould spot the little pea.’.
Lone Hand (Sydney) Aug. 439/1: The three-shell game — or thimble-rigging — is operated by sleight-of-hand.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 221/2: Thimble-rig. 1. To defraud in the shell game.