Jazz-age villains of Australia


36 Responses to “Jazz-age villains of Australia”

  1. missjo says:

    These are also in my collection but with other historical crime photos as well.
    Please beware, there are vintage crime scene photos as well;


  2. Anonymous says:

    Some of these “criminals” look like their only offense may have been crossdressing. Esp. the photo of the two people against a wall, with the person on the left smiling sunnily at the camera.

  3. Anonymous says:


    For anyone who wants to read a bit more about him/her.

  4. ViolettVerq says:

    They look different, so they must be a threat. Arrest them!

  5. robulus says:

    Ahhh the jazz age. When man first fashioned crude tools from jazz.

    1. South Australia was colonised by free settlers. Thats where my family is from, South Australians never tire of mentioning it to people on the East Coast, they tire of hearing it very quickly.

    2. To everyone wondering how you tell if an Australian in the 20′s is likely to become a criminal, that’s easy. Check if they’re Irish. At least I’m pretty sure that was the system in place at the time. They don’t call them ‘Paddy wagons’ for nothing.

    • BB says:

      I thought ‘Paddy wagon’ was a reference to the Irish being police officers?

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        No, i think maybe Robulus has this one right: the term was referring to the wagons as being full of “Paddy”s , Irishmen, who had been arrested.

        Like “turnip truck”, or “milk wagon”.

        • BB says:

          Huh, learn something new every day. I love the origins of phrases.
          This was a great link, too. Thanks Cory. The vintage photos are always a pleasure.

  6. BB says:

    The woman at http://www.hht.net.au/whats_on/past_exhibitions/jpm/crooks is positively beautiful. Likewise, the man on the Boingboing jump has a sweet face.

    Were they deciding who would be criminal based on appearances, a history of small infractions, of lesser criminal activity, or a family history of crime? What was the criteria to be in this collection?

    • Anonymous says:

      This is Australia. *Everybody* has a family history of crime. :)

      • Michael Smith says:

        This is Australia. *Everybody* has a family history of crime. :)

        Yes, very funny.

        Having said that the family name Smith seems to be over represented. Back in the days before easy international transport and communication Australia may have been seen as a place to get away from a dodgy past. I have a great grandfather who abandoned his family in the UK, and started another in Australia.

  7. Gronk says:

    The first link in the text, under the word “collection”, points to the article itself (http://www.boingboing.net/2011/03/12/jazz-age-villains-of.html).

    Feel free to delete this comment when you decide to fix this.

  8. igpajo says:

    That guy below the headline looks a bit like Vince Vaughn.

  9. igpajo says:

    And the woman that BB links to…what’s up with that hexagonal pattern on her face? Almost looks like honeycomb a patterned vein structure.

  10. BB says:

    Oh, I hope I didn’t piss anyone off responding to missjo, pointing out specific photos, or posting (too many) links. Sorry, if so.

  11. MarkM says:

    They weren’t kidding about properly scary villains.
    One guy has those eerie colorless irises.
    The other has a massive scar across his cheek.
    You can tell these guys have stories to tell
    just from the angle at which they keep their hats.

  12. Phanx says:

    I see A.Feutrill (crazy name, crazy guy) is in twice: once as a fresh-faced youth, then eight years later in a gang.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I was surprised by the number of women in the photos, they must make up about half of them. ‘A. Cooke’, third from the bottom, has leading lady, Meryl Streep-ish good looks. Those are probably both sexist comments in some way, but oh well.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Because of the sensitivity of the chemicals they used on the glass plates to blue, all the blue-eyed people (like Mr De Gracy there) looked a bit on the scary/creepy side. It was a great exhibition! I’m very glad Doyle spent as much time with the negatives as he did; they were fascinating images.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What? Does it go boiteverte-dangerousminds-boingboing? Geez, get on the stick, Buck Rogers. It’s the twenty-first century.

  16. jonk says:

    here’s a flickr set — i think it’s what they meant to link to, but i’m not sure.


  17. Gavin Rondeau says:

    The “properly scary villain” on the left looks like Bruce Spence’s evil brother.

  18. BB says:

    I looked further at the book and descriptions, and it would appear that these were mug shots taken before trials, as best as I can gather. I wonder what happened to the children.

    Anyway, I am now oddly smitten with Mr. Ellis, he is kind of ‘hawt’.

  19. Anonymous says:

    “individuals they thought were, or were likely to become, professional criminals.”

    No word on what the individuals were suspected of? A few look like drunks and a few have badass scars, but most look normal, kind of like people I know today.

    This guy must had been running a web site that published secret documents of the United States government.

  20. duncan says:

    Those properly scary villains… they’re super:

  21. voiceinthedistance says:

    What stylistically interesting photos to have been taken by police. Current day fine art portrait photographers would be hard pressed to match the combinations of model, pose and environment in many of these.

    Does anybody else feel like our faces have been, to some degree, homogenized in the intervening years, and that they don’t make faces like some of these anymore?

  22. missjo says:

    As a historic researcher these photos are like gold dust to me as they are some of the few photos where people are not posing, where they didn’t put on their best clothes and cleaned up their homes for the photographer.
    It is morbid but somehow death is the only way to see what life was like.

    • BB says:

      I found them absolutely fascinating. I hope my post didn’t come across as a criticism, it wasn’t. I merely meant to highlight that some of the images may have been distressful for some people. They were the most artful crime scene photos I have ever seen, and they were an unvarnished view ‘day in the life of’ (or death) of the time period.

  23. voiceinthedistance says:

    This woman comes complete with a formula (wtf?):

    My favorite character here, though, may be Eraserhead guy:

  24. Ugly Canuck says:

    Those “likely to become criminals”?

    Hmmmm…i wonder if there’s any chance that photos of complainants, or witnesses, have been confounded amongst those taken as “mug” shots , that is, those known to have been taken after an actual arrest and charge.

  25. SonOfSamSeaborn says:

    Anybody else notice Elliott Smith posing as an “E. Falleni” back in 1920?

  26. Jean-Luc Turbo says:

    If the young man above had his shirt off, it’d easily be an Ambercrombie & Fitch store entrance photowall.

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