Why "jimmy a lock?"--(was: Jimmies in NY?)

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Jul 7 14:50:23 UTC 2004

Here are two early citations for "jemmy" from NYC newspapers:

1834:   [A burglar had] instruments . . . for breaking open stores and houses, and among them an instrument called a London Jemmy (a short crow bar). . . .
New York Daily Advertiser, January 20, 1834, p. 2, col. 5

1843:   [thieves force] the lock of the front door with a "London Jemmy," or short crowbar found in their possession.
New-York Daily Tribune, October 4, 1843, p. 2, col. 5

HDAS: (under "jimmy"), 1848 (2nd 1848 quote has "London Jimmy")


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.


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