Between 1910 and 1930 photographers at New South Wales Police Department took a series of around 2500 "special photographs". These pictures were mostly taken in the cells of the Central Police Station, Sydney, and are, according to curator Peter Doyle, of "men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension". He also says that compared to ordinary mugshots "the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed - perhaps invited - to position and compose themselves for 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".
Here come a few of these photos. I really like them for being such personal pictures, that really shows the character of these people. And it really looks as if they have been staged. I guess criminals are good posers...
|Eugenia Falleni, alias Harry Crawford, 1920.|
When "Harry Leon Crawford" was arrested and charged with wife murder, it was revealed "he" was actually Eugenia Falleni, a woman and mother who had been passing as a man since 1899.
|Group of Criminals Central 1921.|
|Hayes, early 1920s.|
|Isabella Higgs, 21 February 1924.|
|E.A.R Cavendish, 31 May 1926.|
|William Cahill, 30 July 1923.|
|Mrs Osbourne, around 1919.|
|"Silent Tom" Richards and T Ross, alias Walton, 12 April 1920.|
|Guiseppe Mammone, 15 February 1930.|
|Agnes Smith, 15 August 1923, Long Bay's Women Reformatory.|
|Albert Stewart Warnkin and Adolf Gustave Beutler, 18 October 1920.|
|Alfred Fitch, 18 August 1924.|
A few of the things written in this man's record are:
8...may be described as an unscrupulous criminal, who will lend his hand to any unlawful undertaking, irrespective of it's nature, and invariably assaults, or endeavours to assault, police effecting his arrest.
9. Addicted to drink, a constant companion of prostitutes, frequents houses of ill-fame, wine bars and hotels in the city and its immediate surroundings, generally Surry Hills and Darlinghurst particularly.
|B. Smith, Gertrude Thompson and Vera McDonald, 25 January 1928.|
|Daphne Barker, 26 April 1923.|
|Eileen May Burt, 3 January 1924.|
This eighteen year old girl was sentenced to seven days hard labour for stealing, but released under the first offender provisions of the Crimes Act, and charged to be of good behavior for twelve months. Twelve months of good behavior!!! Oh dear...
|Eileen Kreigher, 13 July 1923.|
|Frank Murray, alias Harry Williams, 4 February 1929.|
It says about this thief and second-hand dealer that although he "consorts with prostitutes" and "frequents hotels and wine bars in the vicinity of the Haymarket", he is of "quiet disposition". Check out the hair!!!
|Greta Massey, 26 January 1923.|
Greta Massey were an impostor, forger and "hotel barber", with several aliases, including the surnames Gordon, Spencer, Crawford, Robins and Simpson, as well as Nurse Campbell, and Nurse Nicholas.
|Guiseppe Fiori, alias Permontto, 5 August 1924.|
|Neville McQuade (18) and Lewis Stanley Keith (19), early June 1942.|
These girls were charged of being idle and disorderly persons, having insufficient means of support, and with having goods in their possession - including a military uniform and an American dollar bill - believed to be stolen. After a week in custody, both were released on bonds. McQuade later told a correspondent to the newspaper Truth: "We were bundled out of the police cell, and snapped immediately. My friend and I had no chance to fix our hair or arrange our make-up. We were half asleep and my turban was on the wrong side". Poor girls...Of course you would want some time to fix your hair and makeup before a mugshot!
If you want more of these - or other old photos from the Sydney Police Department - check out the Historic Houses Trust.