Green’s Dictionary of Slang

prop n.3

[Du. proppe, a brooch, a skewer]

1. a scarf- or tie-pin.

[UK]Flash Mirror 7: [A] light-coloured neck scrag, gold chin prop, turnip and bunch of onions, pinched-in pin covers and Wellington mud-rakers .
[UK]Dickens ‘The Artful Touch’ in Reprinted Pieces (1899) 168: In his shirt-front there’s a beautiful diamond prop.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 41/2: A fancy ‘prop’ that had once been Tommy’s, stuck boldy forward in the scarf of Mr. Timothy Foley.
[US]Memphis Dly Appeal (TN) 12 Mar. 3/3: A breastpin is styled a ‘prop’, a diamond breastpin a ‘spark-prop’.
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 506: Pipe his spark prop.
[UK]‘Dagonet’ ‘A Plank Bed Ballad’ in Referee 12 Feb. n.p.: A spark prop a pal (a good screwsman) and I / Had touched for in working two dead ’uns.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 50: ’E brought ’ome that there yuller prop — the necktie pin.
[UK]Illus. Police News 15 Dec. 10/2: I have sent you a few things [...] three ‘spark’ (diamond) rings, a pearl ‘prop’ (pin), a few odds and ends.
[US]H. Hapgood Autobiog. of a Thief 222: I got next to a Dutchman who had a large prop in his tie.
[Can] ‘Thieves’ Sl.’ Toronto Star 19 Jan. 2/5: STUD Prop.
Jackson Dly News (MS) 1 Apr. 7/3: Crook Chatter [...] ‘A stick-pin is a “prop”’.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 11 Aug. 15/2: Pa’s prop, fawney and red lot are in the top right-hand drawer of the Duchess.
[UK]N. Lucas London and its Criminals 60: Spread out before them on a grimy handkerchief are their day’s ‘pickings’. Several watches [...] three or four ‘props’.
[Ire]Eve. Herald (Dublin) 9 Dec. 4/6: A ‘screwsman’ going to his ‘fence’ would inquire ‘What price a pair of “gypsy gauns,” a “red kettle,” a “white kettle,” a “Newgate tackle” and a “prop”. The ‘screwsman’ is asking what the ‘fence’ will pay for two single stone diamond rings, a gold watch, a silver watch, or gold watch and chain and a tiepin.
[US]H. Corey Farewell, Mr Gangster! 280: Slang used by English criminals [...] Prop – a tie-pin.
[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 254: Props, headlights. Tie-pins.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 164/1: Prop. (Chiefly among pickpockets) 1. A tie-pin.
[UK](con. 1920s) J. Sparks Burglar to the Nobility 8: A proper dandy bloke who sported [...] a lavender satin throttler with a diamond prop-pin in it.

2. a woman’s brooch.

[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. 9/2: Sue flimped a soot bag and a prop. She’s the flyest wire in the mob, and all the family men are spoony on her. Sue stole a reticule and a brooch. She’s the smartest lady’s pocket thief in the company (or ‘school’), and all the thieves are smitten with her.

3. a diamond or other valuable piece of jewellery.

[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 135: The pugilist had been touched to the extent of a very valuable diamond pin [...]. All men are alike to the gun when there is anything to be stolen, and he relieves the pugilist of his ‘prop’ as readily as he ‘reefs’ the leather of a president of a railroad.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 14 Feb. 1/1: A few of his friends purloined the prop [i.e. a silver-headed cane] and ‘spouted’ it for snifters.
[UK]A. Binstead Mop Fair 177: You will find your props as safe [...] as if they had been spiked down.
[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 66: prop [...] A diamond stud originally, now comprehending diamonds in any sense... Example: ‘Any heel gun can get a breech poke, but it takes an A1 claw to grab a prop’.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 150: Prop. – A diamond pin or stud.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 813: prop – A diamond pin or stud.

In compounds

prop-getter (n.)

1. a pickpocket in general.

[US]J. Flynt World of Graft 27: The remaining third of Chicago’s professional thieves are good, bad, and indifferent ‘sneaks’, ‘porch-climbers’, ‘slough-workers’, ‘peter-men’, ‘prop-getters’, ‘shovers of the queer’.

2. (also stone getter) a stealer of diamond and other brooches.

[US]J. Sullivan ‘Criminal Sl.’ in Amer. Law Rev. LII (1918) 890: Thieves who steal diamonds or other precious stones from the person are called ‘prop getters’ or ‘stone getters.’.
[US]Eve. World (NY) 1 May 30/6: One who steals diamonds, ‘stone getter.’ Jewelry-thieves, ‘penny-weighters’.
[US]G. Henderson Keys to Crookdom 414: Pop wires. Pickpockets who steal stickpins. Also called prop-getters. [Ibid.] 420: Stone-getter – diamond thief.
[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 459: Prop getter, A thief who steals scarf pins.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 25: One of the best stone-getters that ever nicked a diamond out of a necktie.
[UK]Framlingham Eve. News 24 Oct. 2: A thief is called a ‘tea-leaf’, while one specialising in stealing scarf-pins is called a ‘prop-getter’.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
prop worker (n.) [worker n.1 (1)]

(UK Und.) a thief specializing in tie-pins or other pieces of small jewellery.

[UK]V. Davis Phenomena in Crime 208: He might be an expert in cutting out hip-pockets, but clumsy as a ‘prop-worker’ (tie-pin thief).