60 Mugshots That Show 1920s Criminals Looking Like “Rizz Masters” Without Trying


Oftentimes, we think of people from the past as stuffy, stiff, and nowhere near as fun as us. After all, at best, we might have a few old letters and maybe some dusty photographs. But don’t let this fool you, humans over a hundred years ago were just as capable of looking fly. 

New York Times bestselling author Jason Pargin shared his discovery that people in mugshots from over a hundred years ago look absolutely awesome. Bored Panda reached out to Jason via email and will update the article when he gets back to us. 

More info: TikTok

A man on TikTok shared his discovery that folks in 1920s mugshots looked incredibly cool

@jasonkpargin #rizz ♬ Quirky Suspenseful Indie-Comedy(1115050) – Kenji Ueda

We’ve gathered some of the best examples online below

#1

Herbert Ellis 1920

Herbert Ellis 1920

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

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

The term mugshot is somewhat comical, as the word “mug” is a pretty lowly slang word for a face. How it ended up being part of the official label is anyone’s guess. Regardless of the “how,” the term mugshot has been used since the late 18th century, although, as these images demonstrate, the form and standards have changed over time. 

The real question is, why were all these convicts of the past so darn attractive? Is there some correlation between doing crime and physical charisma? Unfortunately, for better or worse, that seems statistically unlikely. Instead, these images simply stood out from the no doubt hundreds of others. 

The fact that they were allowed to pose and even retain their own clothes does mean that this was a sort of “golden age” of mugshots. There is something appealing about the modern iteration, of just a face and side profile, but, as these images demonstrate, certain looks are just no longer possible. 

#8

Frederick Edward Davies. 1921

Frederick Edward Davies. 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’

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

So all in all, take this as an opportunity to explore the criminals and fashion of the past. While it might be a bit strange to take fashion advice from a hundred-year-old image of a convict, one can’t deny that many of them do look downright cool. If you overlook the criminal-elephant in the room. 

#10

Alfred Ladewig Circa 1920s

Alfred Ladewig Circa 1920s

Alfred Ladewig, alias Wallace, John Walker, Atkins; charged on provisional warrant with stealing by trick the sum of 204AUD, at Brisbane, the property of Alfred Walter Thomlinson

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#11

Elsie Hall, Dulcie Morgan, Jean Taylor C. 1920

Elsie Hall, Dulcie Morgan, Jean Taylor C. 1920

The names inscribed here do not appear in police records for 1920-21, and it is likely the women were photographed simply because they were found in the company of known criminals

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#18

Hampton Hirscham, Cornellius Joseph Keevil, William Thomas O’brien & James O’brien. 1921

Hampton Hirscham, Cornellius Joseph Keevil, William Thomas O’brien & James O’brien. 1921

The quartet pictured were arrested over a robbery at the home of bookmaker Reginald Catton, of Todman avenue, Kensington, on 21 April 1921. The Crown did not proceed against Thomas O’Brien but the other three were convicted and received sentences of fifteen months each

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#25

Leslie Louis Bernstein, 29 November 1929

Leslie Louis Bernstein, 29 November 1929

Bernstein (under the alias “L Berman”) was the subject of a warrant issued in early 1929 charged with obtaining a diamond ring value 14 pounds by false pretences from an Oxford Street jeweller

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#26

Nancy Cowman, 21 February 1924

Nancy Cowman, 21 February 1924

Nancy Cowman, 19, and Vera Crichton, 23, are listed in the NSW Police Gazette 24 March 1924 as charged, along with three others, with “conspiring together to procure a miscarriage” on a third woman

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#28

Albert Stewart Warnkin And Adolf Gustave Beutler. 1920

Albert Stewart Warnkin And Adolf Gustave Beutler. 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

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#31

Frank Murray Alias Harry Williams. 1929

Frank Murray Alias Harry Williams. 1929

Harry Williams was sentenced to 12 months of hard labour in March 1929 for breaking, entering and stealing. He ‘disposes of stolen property to patrons of hotel bars or to persons in the street … professing to be a second-hand dealer

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#36

Sidney Kelly. 1924

Sidney Kelly. 1924

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

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#38

Dorothy Mort, 18 April 1921

Dorothy Mort, 18 April 1921

Convicted of murder. Mrs Dorothy Mort was having an affair with dashing young doctor Claude Tozer. On 21 December 1920 Tozer visited her home with the intention of breaking off the relationship. Mort shot him dead before attempting to commit suicide

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#40

Emma Rolfe (Aka May Mulholland, Sybil White, Jean Harris And Eileen Mulholland), 1 April 1920

Emma Rolfe (Aka May Mulholland, Sybil White, Jean Harris And Eileen Mulholland), 1 April 1920

Emma Rolfe better known as May Mulholland (also as Sybil White, Jean Harris and Eileen Mulholland) had numerous convictions in the period 1919-1920 for theft of jewellery and clothing (all quality items: silk blouses, kimonos and scarves, antique bric a brac etc) from various houses around Kensington and Randwick, and from city shops

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#42

Valerie Lowe, 15 February 1922

Valerie Lowe, 15 February 1922

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 Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#43

Thomas Sutherland Jones And William Smith, 15 July 1921

Thomas Sutherland Jones And William Smith, 15 July 1921

Smith and Jones are listed in the NSW Police Gazette as charged with stealing seven packages of twine (value 14 pounds). Jones was further charged with stealing thirty horse rugs (value 15 pounds) and two bales of kapok (value 20 pounds)

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#46

Albert Sing, 31 March 1922

Albert Sing, 31 March 1922

On 1 May 1922, a month after this photograph was taken, Albert Sing was sentenced to 18 months hard labour on three counts of receiving stolen goods, including fountain pens, cutlery and clothing

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#47

Greta Massey, 26 January 1923

Greta Massey, 26 January 1923

Greta Massey was an energetic impostor, forger and ‘hotel barber’ whose aliases included the surnames Gordon, Spencer, Crawford, Robins and Simpson as well as ‘Nurse Campbell’ and ‘Nurse Nicholas’

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#51

George Whitehall. 1922

George Whitehall. 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

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report

#58

Hazel Mcguinness, 26 July 1929

Hazel Mcguinness, 26 July 1929

Hazel McGuinness was charged along with her mother Ada McGuiness with having cocaine (in substantial quantities) illegally in her possession. Police described a raid on the McGuinnesses’ Darlinghurst house during which the mother Ada threw a hand bag containing packets of cocaine to her daughter, shouting, ‘Run Hazel!’

The Sydney Justice & Police Museum Report


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