Crooks!

The Justice & Police Museum in Sydney, Australia has archived (and on display) the “rogues galleries”, 6×4-inch glass plate negatives produced in the New South Wales prisons and police stations between 1912 and 1930. 

These “special photographs” (as they are described in the police documents of the period) were taken in the various inner-city police stations by police staff. The objective was to document all likely offenders. The mug shots, often a portrait and a full length shot, include the name of the subject and date taken, written backwards on the emulsion side. 

Sydney researcher and author, Peter Doyle delved into the boxed archive of many tens of thousands of negatives (which includes forensic photographs) of dead-eyes prison convicts and cockier crooks being booked at police stations. You can read his interesting account, Public eye, private eye: Sydney police mug shots, 1912-1930. Scroll through the article for a selection of photographs with explanations on who, where and what. Many are truly fine images (photographers were all police staff) with light, contrast, composition all working well. Others are engaging character portrayals. 
 
The UK’s Daily Mail has a piece with additional photographs from May this year.