Incredible Album of Vintage Mugshots Auctioned Off

1500 old timey mugshots, from 1905-1920



Earlier this year, Swann Galleries held a photography auction, and hidden amongst the hundreds of books and prints was something remarkable and unusual: an early 20th century book of mugshots.

Running from 1905-1925, the volume contained almost 1500 mugshots from a number of different states. According to the auction guide:

A spectacular mugshot album with nearly 1500 entries, including several depicting members of the International Workers of the World ("Wobblies"), in addition to a cross-section of crimes from across the country, including California, Oregon, Iowa, Arkansas, and New York (and Canada), likely assembled for surveillance and perp identification. Also includes a variety of mugshot formats, including the standard front and side view, as well as the accused standing with a mirror, triple shots, and slender full-length images. Silver and copy prints, often approximately 3x4 inches (7.6x10.2 cm.), and smaller, mounted recto/verso and 3 per page, each entry in a numbered field with a printed form labeled "Criminal Record," and each with a combination of notations, in ink, including the subject's name, their place of origin, their current location, crime, age, identifying characteristics, and a date. Large folio, red leather, worn, backstrip perished. 1905-1920

The Wobblies were an international industrial union in the early 20th century, focused on combining unions between multiple industries.

It's not clear from the website what is the origin of the book, or if it was primarily surveillance information from an important time in the foundation of the American labor movement. But it's an incredible collection of images and information that eventually went for $10,000 under the auctioneer's hammer.

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