Haunting Mugshots From The 1920s

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We've all seen what mugshots look like. A man or a woman either in their street clothes or a bright orange jumpsuit, typically wearing a grim or sullen expression while holding up their slate. Well when law enforcement officers first started taking mugshots during booking, they looked very, very different. We recently found an incredible collection of vintage, black and white mugshots from the Historic Houses Trust. These high-quality images depict a much different time, with mugshots that look much more haunting than the ones we see today.

Masterman Thomas Scoringe (November 1922)

While the earliest photos of prisoners taken for use by law enforcement may have been taken in Belgium in 1843, mug shots weren't widely used in the U.S. until the late 1850s and even then, they didn't look quite as good as this collection of Australian portraits. Wearing fancy hats, ties and waistcoats and staring fixedly back at the camera, these men could have easily been posing for a family snapshot. Masterman Thomas Scoringe here was a housebreaker who actually escaped custody in the mid 1920s after this photograph was taken. Following his escape, Scoringe conducted  a crime spree targetting in particular the residences of Chinese people in Sydney.