#118 Christene Mayer

Christine Mayer (Abt. 1847-????), aka Kid Glove Rosie, Mary Scanlon,  Rosa Rode–Shoplifter

From Byrnes’s text:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-nine years old in 1886. Born in Germany. Married. Housekeeper. Slim build. Height, 4 feet 11 inches. Weight, about 125 pounds. Dark brown hair, dark blue eyes, dark complexion.

RECORD. Kid Glove Rosey is a well known New York shoplifter. She is also well known in several other Eastern cities. She was arrested in New York City, in company of Lena Kleinschmidt, alias Louisa Rice, alias Black Lena (119), on April 9, 1880, charged with stealing from the store of McCreery & Co., corner of Eleventh Street and Broadway, two pieces of silk containing 108 yards, valued at $250. The property was found in their possession, together with some other property which had been stolen from Le Boutillier Brothers on West Fourteenth Street, New York City. Mayer was tried, convicted, and sentenced to five years in the penitentiary on Blackwell’s Island on April 30, 1880. Kleinschmidt, who had been bailed, left the city, but was re-arrested, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to four years and nine months on the same day by Recorder Smyth.

Mayer’s sentence expired on November 30, 1883, and Kleinschmidt’s on September 30, 1883. “Rosey’s” picture is a good one, taken in April, 1880.

Because of her evocative nickname, “Kid Glove Rosie” has gained in notoriety over the decades as one of the premiere shoplifters of the nineteenth-century. Although she was, in likelihood, a repeat offender, her documented offenses boil down to three arrests and three prison terms, all taking place in a fairly short succession in New York City.

The first offense took place in May, 1875, when she was arrested under the name assigned by the New York Times as “Christina Mayer, alias Marks, a notorious shoplifter.” There are no prior references to arrests under either of those names. She was caught taking eighty yards of blue silk from the Lord & Taylor store. She was sentenced to one year on Blackwell’s Island, the city penitentiary.

In May of 1877, the incident that gave Rosie he nickname took place in a store that specialized in gloves:


Although the math is difficult to figure, the final charge against Rosie was for taking 20 dozen pairs of gloves…in one visit. She was able to hide 240 pairs of expensive kid gloves in hidden pockets in her skirts. This crime earned her a three and a half year sentence to Blackwell’s Island.

The third known arrest of Kid Glove Rosie–accompanied by Black Lena Kleinschmidt–took place in April, 1880, when the pair was caught purloining expensive goods from the store of James McCreery. Both women were German immigrants, with Rosie several years younger than Lena. This incident may explain other, non-specific, references to the fact that Rosie/Christine shoplifted with an older woman described as her mother.

In this case, Rosie was sent to Blackwell’s Island on a sentence of four years and nine months. The three prison terms between 1875 and 1885 took away what should have been her prime years as an adult. She was not heard from again.

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