E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Pickers and Stealers.
The hands. In French argot hands are called harpes, which is a contracted form of harpions; and harpion is the Italian arpione, a hook used by thieves to pick linen, etc., from hedges. A harpe dun ohien means a dogs paw, and Il mania très bien ses harpes means he used his fingers very dexterously.
Rosencrantz. My lord, you once did love me. Hamlet. And do still, by these pickers and stealers.Shakespeare: Hamlet, iii. 3.