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criminals, corpses & crime scenes - a vintage collection
October 3, 2007 5:50 AM   Subscribe

Crime and punishment - a curiously compelling and quirky collection of historic crime photos, including unusual mugshots, corpses & crime scenes. A few favorite characters: idle and disorderly persons; "something amazing" about Harry; a cocky quartet; an illicit drug trader who "drives his own motor car and dresses well"; a subject who refused to open his eyes; charged with conspiring to procure a miscarriage; and guilty of unlawfully possessing cocaine.
This is just one of many marvelous vintage image sets from a historical consultant from Amsterdam - a mammoth treasure trove!
posted by madamjujujive (39 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those photos are amazing. The faces, the expressions. I think the one of "Harry" is the most intriguing. What an interesting story. Thanks for sharing!
posted by ForeverDcember at 6:06 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


mjjj: there was a recent exhibition in sydney of old crime photos like this (i haven't confirmed it yet, but i believe they were also used as a backdrop arty slideshow behind uber-awesome aussie jazz trio *the necks* a few years back at the opera house). i'll see if i can dig something up on this tomorrow morning...
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:10 AM on October 3, 2007


I have often wondered: What was that white pen/pencil that was always used in ye olde timeses to write upon photographs?
posted by Brittanie at 6:28 AM on October 3, 2007


This guy is up to something (or was, haha): here.

Why are the mugshots so candid? They look more like portraits in some cases than mugshots.
posted by ForeverDcember at 6:29 AM on October 3, 2007


Why are the mugshots so candid? They look more like portraits in some cases than mugshots.

I have no idea. But it certainly makes a compelling post.

Nice one, madamjujujive.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 6:34 AM on October 3, 2007


ForeverDcember: People do seem much more unguarded. The big old grin on Neville McQuade's face (idle and disorderly person (left)) really caught me. WWII-era Australia doesn't seem like a great time to be an 'out' female impersonator.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:39 AM on October 3, 2007


I don't want to know; I don't want to know; I don't want to know.
posted by Mike D at 6:40 AM on October 3, 2007


I don't want to know; I don't want to know; I don't want to know.
posted by Mike D at 6:40 AM on October 3, 2007


Sorry. Posting while hiccupping not recommended.
posted by Mike D at 6:41 AM on October 3, 2007


This one includes a good explanation for the casual feeling that these pictures have:

This picture is one of a series of around 2500 "special photographs" taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1930. These "special photographs" were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of "men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension". Doyle suggests that, compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, "the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed - perhaps invited - to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seems constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen personal style (haircut, clothing, accessories) and physical characteristics."

It's an amazing set of pictures, so many standing out as really exceptional portraits.
posted by beegull at 7:09 AM on October 3, 2007


ForeverDcember: People do seem much more unguarded. The big old grin on Neville McQuade's face (idle and disorderly person (left)) really caught me. WWII-era Australia doesn't seem like a great time to be an 'out' female impersonator.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:39 AM on October 3 [+] [!]
That photo reminds me of this one by Weegee:
The Gay Deceiver (1939). (Scroll down)

"Rather than hiding her face in shame, as did most of the other people Weegee photographed in the midst of being arrested, The Gay Deceiver makes the most of her appearance before the camera – she lifts her skirt and smiles while stepping daintily out of the paddy wagon."
posted by thewrongparty at 7:17 AM on October 3, 2007


Several years ago, I was rummaging through an antique store in Gunnison, CO, and came across a drawer full of original inmate file cards (circa late 1800's-early 1900's) from a Colorado prison. The cards featured mugshots. To this day, I curse myself for not buying the whole drawer, rather than the two cards I did buy.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:21 AM on October 3, 2007


Wow, really fantastic find. I'd actually buy prints of a couple of these I think.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:42 AM on October 3, 2007


Cool post. I recommend New York Noir for people who don't mind having corpses in their coffee table books.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:30 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Great find! Thanks. Someone should have Olive (Life of) Riley have a look at these. I think she was in Woolloomooloo at some point way back then.
posted by mmahaffie at 10:15 AM on October 3, 2007


Great post! A lot of these people look like they stepped out of a Tom Waits song or something.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:55 AM on October 3, 2007


Another great find, thanks, mjjj!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:06 AM on October 3, 2007


Everything pictures should be.

Thanks
posted by From Bklyn at 11:12 AM on October 3, 2007


OK...who else went through and just looked at all the chicks?
posted by sourwookie at 12:27 PM on October 3, 2007


OK...who else went through and just looked at all the chicks?

And who (else) was fooled by the cross-dressing guys? (If only for a moment)
posted by mmahaffie at 12:48 PM on October 3, 2007


As always, amazing post madamjujujive!

Wonderful, evocative images that capture the characters and time so well. Some odd contrasts. Granny coke head. Interesting the looks of different emotions. The elegant outfits! Love that bentwood chair. Extraordinary portraits and interesting composition. aww. These guys look like original Sopranos types, radiating deep smug. Yikes.

That particular Flickr member, juffrouwjo, has some other amazing Flickr sets.
posted by nickyskye at 1:16 PM on October 3, 2007


UbuRoivas: The exhibit was called City of Shadows, held at the Police Museum. There's more about it here. It's rather unsettling that a large part of the associated records for the photos have been lost, and we'll never know more than we can see with our own eyes. I don't know if it makes it worse or better, Mike D, but I'm pretty sure the story of the overturned pram is lost to history.
posted by zamboni at 2:59 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


These are astounding, but some of the other sets posted by the Flickr member are equally stunning: the series of Dutch cartoons/illustrations from the Nazi era, and the propaganda postcards are fascinating.
posted by jrochest at 3:43 PM on October 3, 2007


It's a good thing I can't view flickr at work, or I would have wasted the entire day!
posted by snsranch at 4:11 PM on October 3, 2007


This one includes a good explanation for the casual feeling that these pictures have:

This picture is one of a series of around 2500 "special photographs" taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1930. These "special photographs" were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of "men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension".


uh, ok. that means that some or all of these are from the fascinating City of Shadows exhibition, as identified by the notorious sydney identity "mo" zamboni (no known aliases).

in case you missed it, there's a nice large-format art book, which you can buy online from the Historic Houses Trust (see zamboni's link, above) or, if you really must, from Amazon.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:32 PM on October 3, 2007


right, i'm awake now.

i think every photo from #16 (Alfred Ladiwig) onwards is from the aforementioned exhibition & book.

and heh - View of the Entrance of Newtown Station - this is where I live! the station entrance still looks pretty much like this...
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:41 PM on October 3, 2007


Seconding the recommendation for New York Noir, which sits on my coffee table as I type this. Gruesome but undeniably fascinating.
posted by Rangeboy at 5:45 PM on October 3, 2007


amazing!
posted by growabrain at 10:44 PM on October 3, 2007


That's Newtown station all right!

/former Newtown resident, right opposite the park behind the cemetery
posted by Wolof at 12:45 AM on October 4, 2007


*ahem* - you mean the park above the cemetery, right? you know it used to take up the entire park, and that when they reduced it to the walled area around the church, they moved the headstones but left the bodies in the ground?
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:34 AM on October 4, 2007


Yeah, but was referring to current circumstances. Used to look through the front window for ghosts on moonlit nights, entirely without success.
posted by Wolof at 4:12 AM on October 4, 2007


Corner of Roberts St and Federation Rd, I think. No. 46 Roberts, from memory.
posted by Wolof at 5:10 AM on October 4, 2007


Used to look through the front window for ghosts on moonlit nights, entirely without success.

nah, only junkies going into the cemetery to shoot up, or goths, to have sex.

roberts & federation, hey? i know church, on one side, and australia on the other. you must've been on the northern side, where ppl walk their dogs. that'd be about five blocks from my place :) - convenient to the courty & the carlisle castle, too...

posted by UbuRoivas at 5:28 AM on October 4, 2007


Buy you a beer next time I am up there.
posted by Wolof at 5:35 AM on October 4, 2007


Can also introduce you to The Necks. Old friends.
posted by Wolof at 5:36 AM on October 4, 2007


no wai! you'll shout me a ticket to Berlin to meet Tony? btw, love Lloyd's work on the SMH letters-to-the-editor page. only ever cracked that one once, but can't say i tried for too long.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:54 AM on October 4, 2007


(afterthought: i have actually chatted with Chris & Tony - at Space 3 Gallery on Cleveland St, where they were performing in the Now Now Festival)

bringing this chit-chat back to topic, "people who appreciate the City of Shadows photos might also be interested in The Necks, who apparently used the photos as a backdrop for their concerts a couple of years before the exhibition was held..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:01 PM on October 4, 2007


First I was riveted by the portraits, and disappointed when they segued into crime scenes... then I started looking at the crime scenes and became totally absorbed. Each one of them is just incredibly poignant and haunting. I'm feeling a little surreal here.

Interesting note in the deep smug photo nickyskye mentions: The Crown did not proceed against Thomas O'Brien but the other three were convicted, and received sentences of fifteen months each.

Ol' Tom must have ratted the others out.
posted by taz at 2:13 AM on October 8, 2007




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