Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fence v.

[fence n.1 (1)]

1. to buy and sell stolen property.

[UK]Rowlands Martin Mark-all 38: To Fence property, to sell anything that is stolne. [Ibid.] 43: When we haue tipt the loure & fenc’t away the duds / Then binge we to the bowsing ken / Thats cut the Robin Hood.
Ordinary’s Account 17 Apr. 5: He had long and notoriously been concern'd in Fending, [sic] that is, as those Hellish Linguists understand the Canting word, receiving and putting off stolen Goods.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) 205: Fence, to spend or lay out; also a receiver and securer of stolen goods. Fence his hog, i.e., to spend his shilling.
[UK]Proceedings Old Bailey 11 Sept. 144/2: Now, says he, we will go over the Water, and Fence them.
[UK]Ordinary of Newgate Account of the Malefactors executed at Tyburn 18th March 1740 part II 7: After they had fenced the Loges, &c. which was all carried abroad and disposed of by R---r J-----n, since dead.
[UK]J. Poulter Discoveries (1774) 20: Burk will show you where you may buss a Couple of Prads, and fence them at Abingdon Gaff; that is, Burk, will show you a Couple of Horses that you may steal, and sell them at Abingdon Fair.
[UK]Bloody Register III 171: [as cit. 1741].
[UK]Proc. Old Bailey 15 Sept. 471/2: Dinmore said, Stumpy, where are these things fenced? I said they were at Mailling's.
[UK]G. Parker Life’s Painter 136: I only napt a couple of bird’s eye wipes, which I have just fenc’d to the Cove at that there Ken.
[UK]H. Lemoine ‘Education’ in Attic Misc. 116: With Nell he kept a lock, to fence, and tuz.
[UK]G. Hangar Life, Adventures and Opinions II 60: Those necessary professional accomplishments, such as [...] how to scamp, prigg, floor, [...] mount, lumber, and fence.
[UK]Vaux Memoirs in McLachlan (1964) 81: The stranger observing that he knew where to fence the book.
[UK] ‘Sonnets for the Fancy’ Egan Boxiana III 622: [as 1791].
[UK] ‘The Shickster To Her Dab Had Gone’ Flash Chaunter 14: His Ticker she took care to bone, / His Fogle too, d’ye see? [...] With the bawd she fenc’d them both, / Who has stow’d them away.
[UK] ‘Poll Newry, The Dainty Flag-Hopper’ Gentleman’s Spicey Songster 34: If a gent passes bye, she soon frisks his cly, / And she fences the lob with Sal Carey.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 16 Sept. 3/4: John Napoleon Dillon had taken the horse out of a spree, and fenced his trappings to keep up the lark.
N.Y. Pick (NY) 29 Apr. n.p.: He’s a dabster at fencing.
[UK]‘Ducange Anglicus’ Vulgar Tongue 38: He cracked a case last night and fenced the swag.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 41/2: Tim, if he was ‘sugared,’ would stand for them himself, and afterwards ‘fence’ them in the Lane.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 21 Sept. n.p.: A ‘mob’ of ‘cly-fakers’ [...] ‘fencing the swag’.
[UK]Hotten Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Sydney Punch 1 Oct. 7/2: [He] fences the swag for as much as a finnup and three or four casers.
[UK]W.E. Henley ‘Villon’s Straight Tip’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 176: Fiddle, or fence, or mace, or mack; / Or moskeneer, or flash the drag.
[US]Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) 24 Dec. 12/2: ‘He lifted some stuff from a young gent [...] and before he had time to pawn it they had a “rap” out and he had to go to Baltimore to fence it’.
[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 117: The fat’s a-running boys fenced their swag with a publican at Hoxton.
[US]A.H. Lewis Confessions of a Detective 202: I fenced the fawney for fifty.
[US]F. Packard White Moll 70: Put those sparklers away with the rest until we get ready to ‘fence’ them.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 11 Aug. 15/1: These commidities [i.e jewels & furs] are easily fenced.
[Ire]Eve. Herald (Dublin) 9 Dec. 4/6: ‘Fence’ is the name given to receivers of stolen property, and, as the name implies, they have to ‘fence’ between the ‘screwsman’ (burglar) and the police.
[US]C. Himes ‘Prison Mass’ Coll. Stories (1990) 167: He had driven across town to a garage where he could fence the bus.
[US]B. Frame Crown Jewels are Missing 38: It began to look as though no effort would be made to fence the gems until detectives had given up the search for them.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 121: Lupita fences on the side.
[US]B. Jackson Thief’s Primer 88: When they steal stuff, they usually fence it through him.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 71: I’ve heard that your father took a fall fencing.
[US]N. Pileggi Wiseguy (2001) 14: There’d be a crate of stolen toasters to be fenced.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 73: Too hot to hock [...] Too big to fence.
[UK]N. Griffiths Grits 26: I’ve had [...] policemen on a tip-off that am fencing stolen goods an dealin drugs.
[Aus]G. Disher Heat [ebook] ‘You know anyone able or willing to fence it?’ [i.e. a painting].
[US]D. Winslow ‘Crime 101’ in Broken 72: He fences the rocks, washes the proceeds.
[Aus]A. Nette Orphan Road 57: ‘I’m not entirely sure what Dad did after the war, but it was all illegal. Fencing stolen materials, the occasional armed robbery’.

2. to spend money.

[Ire] ‘Of the Budge’ Head Canting Academy (1674) 12: Then every man to the Boozing Ken / And there to fence his hog.
[UK]B.E. Dict. Canting Crew n.p.: Fence, to Spend or Lay out. Fence his Hog, to Spend his Shilling.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 194: You Darkman-budge, will you fence your Hog at the next Boozen-ken [Night-budge will you spend your Shilling at the next Ale-house].
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Notorious Highway-men, etc. (1926) II [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]New Canting Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Bailey Universal Etym. Eng. Dict. [as cit. c.1698].
[UK]Canting Academy, or the Pedlar’s-French Dict. 118: Friend, will you spend your two-Pence for a Pot of good Ale? Coll, will you fence your Duce for a Gage of Rum Bues?
[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.

3. (UK Und.) to pawn goods with a receiver.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: fence To pawn or sell to a receiver of stolen goods. The kiddey fenced his thimble for three quids; the young fellow pawned his watch for three guineas. To fence invariably means to pawn or sell goods to a receiver.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[UK]‘The City Youth’ in Out-and-Outer in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) IV 139: He fences all his togs to buy her duds.

4. (UK Und.) to hide (stolen goods).

[UK]Swell’s Night Guide 57: schikster: Where’s the plant, cully? gonniff: Fenced in a dunnniken. schikster: What? Fenced in a crapping ken?

In phrases

fenced in (adj.)

(US teen) going steady.

[US]Brooklyn Dly Eagle (NY) 20 Feb. 11/4: A couple going stead is said to be ‘fenced in’ or ‘trolley riding’.