This incredible collection of mugshots from the 1920’s in Australia are kept by Historic Houses Trust. Many of the photographs they have collected are accompanied with a description of the person in the photograph and the crimes they have committed and been arrested for. Enjoy!

1) William Stanley Moore, May 1925 – Opium Dealer
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2) Albert Stewart Warnkin and Adolf Gustave Beutler, October 18th 1920

Albert Stewart Warnkin is listed in the NSW Police Gazette of 10 November 1920, as charged with attempting to carnally know a girl eight years old. No entry is found for Beutler, whose picture is inscribed ‘wilful and obscene exposure.

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3) Eugenia Falleni, alias Harry Crawford, 1920

When ‘Harry Leon Crawford’, hotel cleaner of Stanmore was arrested and charged with wife murder he was revealed to be in fact Eugeni Falleni, a woman and mother, who had been passing as a man since 1899. In 1914, as ‘Harry Crawford’, Falleni had married the widow Annie Birkett. Three years later, shortly after she announced to a relative that she had found out ‘something amazing about Harry’, Birkett disappeared.

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4) Thomas Craig, Raymond Neil (aka ”Gaffney the Gunman), William Thompson, FW Wilson, January 25th 1928

This photograph was apparently taken in the aftermath of a raid led by Chief Bill Mackay – later to be Commissioner of Police – on a house at 74 Riley Street, ‘lower Darlinghurst’. Numerous charges were heard against the 15 men and women arrested. It was a house frequented by ‘reputed thieves.

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5) De Gracy and Edward Dalton. circa 1920
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6) Joseph Messenger, February 15th 1922

Joseph Messenger and Valerie Lowe were arrested in 1921 for breaking into an army warehouse and stealing boots and overcoats to the value of 29 pounds 3 shillings. The following year, when this photograph was taken, they were charged with breaking and entering a dwelling. Those charges were eventually dropped but they were arrested again later that year for stealing a saddle and bridle from Rosebery Racecourse. As an adult Messenger was active in inner-Sydney underworld through the 1920s, and he appears in the NSW Criminal Register (16 July 1930 entry no 171) as a seasoned criminal and gang affiliate.

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7) Ah Low, May 31st 1928
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8) William Cahill, July 30th 1923
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9) Gilbert Burleigh and Jospeh Delaney, August 27th 1920

Gilbert Burleigh on the left is identified as a ‘hotel barber’, and Delaney’s picture is labelled ‘false pretences & conspiracy’. A companion photograph makes it clear that in fact Delaney was the hotel barber – meaning one who books into a hotel, boarding house or residential and robs (or ‘snips’) fellow patrons, usually in the dead of night.

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10) Frank Murray (alias Harry Williams), February 4th 1929

Harry Williams was sentenced to 12 months hard labour on March 1929 for breaking, entering and stealing. Although he ‘consorts with prostitutes’ and ‘frequents hotels and wine bars in the vicinity of the Haymarket’, he is described as being of ‘quiet disposition’.

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11) ”Silent Tom” Richards and T Ross, April 12th 1920
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12) Sydney Skukerman, September 25th 1924

An entry in the Supplement to the NSW Police Gazette Sydney for Skukerman, (alias Kukarman, alias Cecil Landan) is captioned ‘obtains goods from warehousemen by falsely representing that he is in business’.

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13) George Whitehall, February 24th 1922

George Whitehall, carpenter, handed himself into Newtown police after hacking to death his common-law wife, Ida Parker on Thursday afternoon 21 February 1922, at their home in Pleasant Avenue, Erskineville. This photo was apparently taken the following morning at Newtown Police Station.

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14) Guiseppe Fiori, August 5th 1924 (Described as a safe-breaker)
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15) Kong Lee, November 27 1922

Kong Lee makes numerous appearances in the NSW Police Gazette as a ‘safe blower’ and ‘thief’, and is noted in the issue of February 1929 as having recently been seen riding trains ‘in the company of card sharpers and spielers’.

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Vintage Mugshots From The 1920s

16) John Walter Ford and Oscar Clive Nash, June 1921
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17) Ernest Joseph Coffey, June 2nd 1922
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18) Walter Keogh, February 9th, 1922

Walter Keogh appears in the Photo Supplement to the 1923 NSW Police Gazette (7 February Group 1 p. 4) identified as a pickpocket, and later in 1928 (26 December, Group 4 p. 15) as a ‘suspected person and bogus land salesman’. Keogh was also profiled in exposes in the newspaper Truth in 1928, as a ‘go-getter’, ie a con man who sells suburban building blocks at grossly inflated prices, by falsely leading the buyers to believe the lots may be promptly resold for a huge profit.

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19) Ernest James Montague, August 29th 1927
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20) Patrick Riley, August 11th 1924

Patrick Riley (alias Matthew Edward Riley) was convicted in October 1924 of making counterfeit coins, and of having a coining instrument (ie a mould) in his possession, for which he was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour.

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21) Masterman Thomas Scoringe, November 29th 1922
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22) Thomas Bede, November 22nd 1928
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23) Walter Smith, December 24th 1924

Walter Smith is listed in the NSW Police Gazette, 24 December 1924, as ‘charged with breaking and entering the dwelling-house of Edward Mulligan and stealing blinds with a value 20 pounds (part recovered)’, and with ‘stealing clothing, a value of 26 pounds (recovered) in the dwelling house of Ernest Leslie Mortimer.’ Sentenced to 6 months hard labour.

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24) Alfred John (or Francis) West, April 7th 1922
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25) Hampton Hirscham, Cornellius Joseph Keevil, William Thomas O’Brien and James O’Brien, July 20th 1921
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26) Harold Price, August 13th 1923

Harold Price was a thief and gunman. This photograph was taken after he was was arrested and charged with committing robbery under arms at a house in Randwick, Sydney, for which he was sentenced to two years hard labour.

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27) Sidney Kelly, June 25th 1924

Details surrounding this particular photograph are unknown, but Sidney Kelly was arrested many times and much written about in newspapers during the 1920s, 30s and 40s. He was charged with numerous offences including shooting, and assault, and in the 1940s was a pioneer of illegal baccarat gaming in Sydney. This image appears in the Photo Supplement to the NSW Police Gazette, 26 July 1926, p. 6 captioned, “Illicit drug trader. Drives his own motor car, and dresses well. Associates with criminals and prostitutes.”

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28) Frederick Edward Davies, July 14th 1921

The handwritten inscription on this unnumbered Special Photograph reads ‘Frederick Edward Davies stealing in picture shows and theatres Dets Surridge Clark and Breen Central 14-7-21′. Police held sneak thieves in particularly low regard, which may account for the decision to photograph Davies in front of the police station’s toilet stalls.

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29) Herbert Ellis, circa 1920

The precise circumstances surrounding this picture are unknown, but Ellis is found in numerous police records of the 1910s, 20s and 30s. He is variously listed as a housebreaker, a shop breaker, a safe breaker, a receiver and a suspected person. A considerably less self-assured Ellis appears in the NSW Criminal Register of 29 August 1934 (no. 206). His convictions by then include ‘goods in custody, indecent langauge, stealing, eceiving and throwing a missile.

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30) Sidney ”Pretty Sid” Grant, October 11, 1921

A picture of Sidney Grant (alias ‘Pretty Sid’) appears in the ‘Criminal Photographs’ section of the New South Wales Police Gazette, 2 May 1923 captioned ‘Confidence man (notes for gold)’. In his landmark sociological work, The Big Con (first published in 1940) David Maurer describes a con trick known as “the hot-seat”, then being practiced in Europe by “such masters of their profession as Pretty Sid, Snowy T-, Kangaroo John, Melbourne Murray, Devil’s Island Eddie, Slab B[rennan] …” It was not unusual then for the most accomplished Australian con artists to seek fresh fields in Britain, Europe (especially France) and North America, where their skills were held in high regard by fellow professionals.

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