City of Shadows

Australia had gangsters, hoodlums and malcontents????

If you cannot tell, I love old photographs.  One of the blogs I favor, twistedsifter, recently shared these and I wanted to pass them on, they are amazingly clear.  Glass slide negatives hold their clarity perfectly, the digital of today cannot compare to the chemical reactions of old photography. I hope you enjoy these, they come from the ‘City of Shadows‘ exhibition being put on by The Sydney Justice & Police Museum

criminals1

F. Roland, F Roberts, J O’Donohue, Cecil Rickets, J Vincent, Special Photograph number 342, c1921,

Central Police Station, Sydney

The inscription on this negative, O’Donohue’s Trainees, is ripe with suggestion. But none of the names have been found in police records or newspapers of the time, save for Cecil Rickets (or Reckitts), who accrued convictions in 1921 for house and warehouse breaking in Paddington and the city.

F Roland, F Roberts, J O’Donohue, Cecil Rickets, J Vincent, Special Photograph number 342, c1921, Central Police Station, Sydney

criminals2

Mug shot of William Munro, 17 September 1924, Central Police Station, Sydney.

Special Photograph no. 1313. Munro is listed in the NSW Police Gazette, 1924 as charged, along with Harris Hunter, with receiving stolen goods to the value of 536 pounds 4 shillings and 1 penny, the property of Snow’s department store.

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”.

Mug shot of B. Smith, Gertrude Thompson and Vera McDonald, Central Police Station, Sydney, 25 January 1928.

Mug shot of B. Smith, Gertrude Thompson and Vera McDonald, Central Police Station, Sydney, 25 January 1928.

This photograph was apparently taken in the aftermath of a raid led by CIB 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.  

Lessee Joe Bezzina , pictured in a recent post,was charged with ‘being the keeper of a house frequented by reputed thieves’, and some of the others were charged with assault, and with ‘being found in a house frequented by reputed thieves’. The gallery was packed with friends of the accused, who loudly jeered the prosecution and police witnesses.

Rosie Steele

Rosie Steele, Crooks Like Us mug shot

Rosie Steele was a drug runner for East Sydney cocaine trafficker Harry Newman.

She was fined £30 in 1928 after she and another woman were arrested with a number of ‘five shilling sniffs’ in their possession.

criminals3

Mug shot of ‘Ah Num’ and ‘Ah Tom’, ca 1930, Central Police Station, Sydney. NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums.

Special Photograph no. D158/D159. The ‘D’ prefix on the serial number indicates that the photograph was taken on behalf of the Drug Bureau, which in the late 1920s consisted of two men, Detectives Wickham and Thompson. ‘Ah Num’ and ‘Ah Tom’, which may be approximate renderings of these men’s names, do not turn up in the records of the time, and the expectation that they were to be released may account for their obviously elevated mood.

Mug shot of Valerie Lowe, 15 February 1922, Central Police Station, Sydney. NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums.

Mug shot of Valerie Lowe, 15 February 1922, Central Police Station, Sydney. NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums.

Special Photograph no 744. Valerie Lowe and Joseph Messenger 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 were 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. In 1923 Lowe was convicted of breaking into a house at Enfield and stealing money and jewellery to the value of 40 pounds.

Guido Calletti, Special Photograph number 1912, circa January 1930, Central Police Station, Sydney

Guido Calletti, Special Photograph number 1912, circa January 1930, Central Police Station, Sydney. NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice and Police Museum.

Short, thickset, foul-mouthed and illiterate, Guido Calletti was for two decades Darlinghurst’s most famous bludger, razorman and standover artist. From his criminal debut aged ten until his death from gunshot wounds in 1939, Calletti appeared in court 56 times, mostly for violent assault and robbery. Typically he assaulted and robbed pub patrons with whom he had struck up a temporary acquaintance. He was reputed to be an expert shot and extraordinarily fast with a razor and a knife.

Although Calletti was never charged with murder, police believed he was responsible for at least four killings. He remained an independent operator, never strongly aligned with any of the inner-city gangs. He was married to prostitute Nellie Cameron, and later had a long-running affair with famous consort of gangsters, Dulcie Markham.

The photographs reproduced here, the circumstances of which are unknown, catch Calletti in a relaxed, self-assured mood.

This is a must read:

Eugenia Falleni, alias Harry Crawford, Special Photograph number 234, probably 1920 in Central Police Station, Sydney.

Eugenia Falleni, alias Harry Crawford, Special Photograph number 234, probably 1920 in Central Police Station, Sydney. NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums.

When ‘Harry Leon Crawford’, hotel cleaner of Stanmore was arrested and charged with wife murder he was revealed to be in fact Eugenia 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. Crawford told neighbours that she had run off with a plumber. In 1919 Birkett’s young son, who had remained in Crawford’s custody, told an aunt of attempts made on his life by his drunken stepfather. The aunt contacted police. A charred body which had been found in Lane Cove in 1917 was belatedly identified as Birkett’s. ‘Crawford’s’ astonished second wife, when finally convinced of Falleni’s true gender remarked: “I always wondered why he was so painfully shy …”

Not guys you would want following you in an alley!

Mug shot of De Gracy (sic) and Edward Dalton. Details unknown. Central Police Station, Sydney, ca.1920.

Mug shot of De Gracy (sic) and Edward Dalton. Details unknown. Central Police Station, Sydney, ca.1920. NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums.

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