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April 16, 2022

Mug Shots of Criminals Posing With Hats in Calgary, 1920

A mug shot is a photographic portrait of a person from the shoulders up, typically taken after a person is arrested. The original purpose of the mug shot was to allow law enforcement to have a photographic record of an arrested individual to allow for identification by victims, the public and investigators.

After the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871, the Prefecture of Police of Paris hired a photographer, Eugène Appert, to take portraits of convicted prisoners. In 1888, Alphonse Bertillon invented the modern mug shot featuring full face and profile views, standardizing the lighting and angles. This system was soon adopted throughout Europe, and in the United States and Russia.

These photos of 1920s criminals absolutely fascinating, partly because mug shots make for really interesting candid photographs, but also because of the variety of different hats worn by the men in these photos. They were all taken in Calgary, Canada in 1920.


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