Even the earliest word scholars were, by nature, given to taxonomy and classification. In the 17th and 18th centuries, dictionaries of slang, invective and other impolite terms began popping up. Probably the most famous, Mitchell says, is Francis Grose's 1785 book, "Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," later published in a paperback edition called "Lexicon Balatronicum."
In 1673, an author by the name of Richard Head published a guide called "The Canting Academy, or, The Devil's Cabinet Opened" -- a rather tongue-in-cheek dictionary of underworld terminology. The full title of the book is worth lingering over: "The Canting Academy, Or, The Devil's Cabinet Opened: Wherein is Shewn the Mysterious and Villainous Practices of that Wicked Crew, Commonly Known by the Names of Hectors, Trapanners, Gilts, Etc., to which is Added a Compleat Canting-dictionary, Both of Old Words, and Such as are Now Most in Use, with Several New Catches and Songs, Compos'd by the Choicest Wits of the Age, a Book Very Useful and Necessary to be Read by All Sorts of People."