Punishing Forgery with Death.

William Dodd, an Anglican priest, was imprisoned for counterfeiting and then hanged in 1777. Image Courtesy Getty. Is the death penalty ever acceptable? And, if so, what kind of criminals should it apply to? In early nineteenth century England, legal scholar Phil Handler writes, it was clear to authorities that death was an appropriate penalty […]

Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies.

Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, published from 1757 to 1795, was an annual directory of prostitutes then working in Georgian London. A small, attractive pocketbook, it was printed and published in Covent Garden, and sold for two shillings and sixpence. A contemporary report of 1791 estimates that it sold about 8,000 copies annually. Each […]

“Kindy Kopped”.

Grubby Hartshorne had a real perk going. The Grubs had a swimming pool in his backyard and the water needed to fill it would have cost a lot back in the 1980s (imagine the cost today) But Grubby had a scam which had been suggested by Alex Riley. At night the Grubs would climb over […]

Quicksand,1950.

Quicksand is a 1950 American film noir. It is a crime film starring Mickey Rooney and Peter Lorre. It is a story about a young garage mechanic’s descent into crime after he steals $20 to take his girlfriend on a date. It was directed by Irving Pichel shortly before he was blacklisted by McCarthy’s House […]

The day a young John Monash had a yarn with Ned Kelly.

Photo: General Sir John Monash (1865-1931. Famous World War One Australian General Sir John Monash was once asked to name two highlights of his life, his reply is absolutely fascinating. Sir John  replied that one was when he called a council of war just before we broke the Hindenburg line and he other was when […]

‘They Live by Night’ 1948 directed by Nicholas Ray.

Nicholas Ray’s astonishingly self-assured, lyrical directorial debut opens with title cards and lush orchestrations over shots of a boy and a girl in rapturous mutual absorption: “This boy … and this girl … were never properly introduced … to the world we live in …” A shriek of horns suddenly obliterates all other sound – […]

Alphonse Bertillon, Invented the Mug Shot in 1912.

Pictured: Alphonse Bertillon – Archives of Service Regional d’Identité Judiciaire, Préfecture de Police, Paris via Jebulon on Wikipedia While the photographing of criminals began in the 1840s shortly after the invention of photography, it was not until 1888 that French police officer Alphonse Bertillon standardised the process. Mug shots, which were typically taken after a […]

Laura, a classic whounnit (1944).

I’ve seen Otto Preminger’s “Laura” three or four times, but the identity of the murderer doesn’t spring quickly to mind. That’s not because the guilty person is forgettable but because the identity is so arbitrary: It is not necessary that the murderer be the murderer. Three or four other characters would have done as well, […]

The Bank Burglar’s Outfit, c. 1887.

As long as there is something worth stealing it is probably the case with the human race that what that something is won’t be, and will be stolen. This has been the case forever, and as vigilant as an owner of property might be–whether that bit that stood for labor exchange units was a cow […]

‘Squizzy’ Taylor, Melbourne Criminal 1888-1927.

Joseph Leslie Theodore (Squizzy) Taylor (1888-1927) criminal, was born on 29 June 1888 at Brighton, Victoria, son of Benjamin Isaiah Taylor, coachmaker, and his wife Rosina, née Jones, both Victorian born. The family moved to Richmond and Leslie tried to make a career as a jockey on the inner city pony circuit where he came […]