Under current restrictions, our shops are closed to the public, but we are still processing online, telephone and email orders as normal.


Mysteries and Refinements of Modern Roguery.

By a Private Detective.

London: Irwin, Langley & Co., 1886 Stock Code: 140042
Reserve Ask us a question

"Advice to Strangers" - avoiding the criminal pitfalls of 1880s London

First and only edition of this extraordinary little volume offering practical advice against the thieves and tricksters plaguing the streets of London. The first half of the text is a spotter's guide on pickpockets, "Who they are, and what they are like", with explanations of their methods, the distraction of the "stall", the techniques of the "wire", given in sufficient detail and with such specifics as to suggest that the author genuinely was of the profession claimed.

The second section offers "Advice for Strangers" to the metropolis, illuminating the operations of the "Mysterious Dental (?) Rooms", "swell assignations houses" that thrive on the "carnal weaknesses of casual visitors to the city"; forwards an explanation for "the mysterious disappearances which are almost daily reported", the lure of "a pretty face, snapping black eyes,and red lips", drinks in a café, ending with a "bloated, disfigured swollen corpse" pulled from the river; and looks into the "women and young girls who have a great mania for disappearing". A respectable and highly cultivated young girl in Liverpool taking "short cut through a disreputable part of town" reappears in London, the story never made public but understood to be "horrible in the extreme".

The final sections comprise a short piece on "the Dark Ways of Street-sharpers" and a lengthier description of a rather complicated American scam to illustrate "High Class and Ingenious Roguery on a Grand Style", followed by a brief explanation of cipher writing and reading which concludes with a "Prize Competition 1000 in Prizes" requiring the solution of three ciphered messages. Noting well what has gone before, this has more than a hint of "roguery" to it, but where the catch might have been is beyond our wit to discover.

We have been unable to trace any other publications or enterprises put out over the name of Irwin, Langley & Co. Scarce, just two locations world-wide BL and Harvard Medical School.

Confused? Read our glossary


"Octavo" (180 x 120 mm). Wire-stitched in the original green cloth-backed sanguine printed boards.


"Portrait frontispiece", and 6 other stock portraits to the text, one full-page, illustrations to the text, printed in menacing sanguine throughout.


A little rubbed and soiled, head and tail of spine chipped, hinges with some give to them but sound, staples rusted but intact, text block lightly browned, overall very good.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book