Peter Funk n.
1. (US) a fraudulent salesman, often operating in the guise of an auctioneer, who augments the appeal of their third-rate merchandise by intimating that it had in some way been acquired illegally.
|Perils of Pearl Street 51: Peter Funk [...] is the very imp of deception; [...] his name is sometimes used figuratively to signify any thing which is employed for the purpose of deception or as the sharp ones say, to gull the flats .|
|N.Y. Daily Trib. 29 Dec. 2/3: The swindler who played the part of ‘Peter Funk’ and persuaded the stranger to pay $20 to the boy who was running off with the pocket book rather than have the unfortunate loser robbed of his money, finally left the victim standing before a store which he represented as his brother’s while he went for the key to open it.|
|Lantern I 239/1: Petronius Funk, Fictitious Auctioneer. Wylie, Bonnett, Associate Funkers [DA].|
|Mt. Echo 30 Apr. 1/5: The Vermonter examined the watch carefully, and the bidding among the outside Funks assumed an aspect of profound interest [DA].|
|Nature and Human Nature II 387: Why, I won’t act ‘Peter Funk’ to myself, but this I will say ‘Human natur is my weakness’.|
|Emporia News (KS) 21 June 1/5: [headline] How Peter Funk Does Business.|
|Americanisms 299: Peter Funk [...] designates the person who aids in getting up so-called mock auctions, sales held for the sole benefit of inexperienced countrymen, at which more or less worthless articles, imitation jewelry, watches of gilt copper and the like, are offered; where unwary purchasers are forced to take a large quantity while they only bid for a very small portion.|
|Sl., Jargon & Cant II 125/2: In New York City for nearly a century all kinds of petty humbug, deceit and sham, especially in business, has been characterized by a mythical character named Peter Funk.|
|New Dict. Americanisms.|
|(con. mid-19C) Sucker’s Progress 182: These latter gentry [i.e. fake ‘auctioneers’], commonly called Peter Funks, were themselves a source of great annoyance [...] and many unsuccessful attempts were made to stop the sales of shoddy and worthless merchandise.|
|(con. 1900s) in Hellhole 165: She remembers the Peter Funkers, the mock auctioneers, forceful and sage in their way.|
2. in fig. use of sense 1.
|Morn. Call (SF) 24 Jan. 3/2: The Nicaraguan scheme [...] was an attempt to canonize a new St Peter - the ‘Peter Funk of legislation.’ It was the glorification of the Cheap Johns of Congressional work.|
3. attrib. use of sense 1.
|G’hals of N.Y. 31: Those baubles [...] are mere Peter Funk affairs, which, if pocketed, are of no value.|
|Artemus Ward, His Book 230: Then advisin him to keep away from the Peter Funk auctions of the East, and the proprietors of corner-lots in the West, I bid him farewell, and went away.|
|Dly Bulletin (Honolulu) 10 Oct. 1/1: [advt] No Peter Funk stock here.|
|Portland Intelligencer 21 Feb. 3/4: When he returned at 2 o’clock the same night he had $64 in cash and 27 peter funk watches to show for the large sum he had started out with [DA].|
a form of swindling.
|N.Y. in Slices 33: But the Peter Funk is the sublime of mercantile swindling the result of the commercial principle carried to its ultimates. [Ibid.] 34: You may find the red flag of Peter Funkism flying in Pearl-street and other ‘heavy’ quarters, where it is generally supposed that transactions are bona fide and dealers responsible.|