The Art of Darkness

Vintage Mug Shots

June 22nd, 2016 by Cobwebs

Mug ShotThe book City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs 1912-1948 is a collection of period mug shots from the early part of the last century. Viewed through the filter of time, the results are haunting. (I don’t know what F. Schmelz there did in 1930 to get himself arrested, but the guy creeps me right out.)

The a time to get site has posted some images from the book, and a bit of googling–I was trying to find out what F. Schmelz did do–also turned up several more images and an essay at SCAN. These latter appear to be taken from the original police files instead of from the book.

These shots are an unusual source of inspiration for art or period photography. A collage of them would be an interesting wall display. I’m sure that in their time many of them were Very Bad People, but at this remove they seem almost ethereal.

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One Response

  1. Witcharachne Says:

    Ooh I have this book. It’s pretty fascinating. Alongside the mug shots there are photos of crime scenes and evidence photos that they submitted in court. They don’t obscure anything either. Murder scenes are shown in full.
    IIRC (I’m not at home atm so can’t check), it gives a small explanation for most of the scene photos but nothing for most of the mug shots or evidence photos, which can be annoying.
    Brilliant coffee table book though.

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