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April 21, 2022

Amazing Mug Shots of People Posing With Their Hands on Chest in New Zealand From the 19th Century

Mug shots are photographic portraits of arrested suspects and convicted criminals. Since the mid-19th century, they have been used to help form a record of identification for the police. However, they are far from being mundane bits of police paperwork. Rather, mug shots are intriguing images which have a powerful ability to captivate our imaginations. Perhaps this is because of the interesting questions they evoke: What crime did this person commit? Were they guilty? Do they look like a criminal? Do they look normal? What happened to them?


Using the New Zealand Police Museum’s collection of mug shots from the 19th century, this exhibition will start to answer some of these questions, and explore the stories behind these compelling photographs. From the people in the images, to the history of mug shots, to the role of criminal identification in New Zealand Police, these mug shots can provide a window to many fascinating stories of the past.

The New Zealand Police Force was officially established on September 1, 1886, and they began collecting photographs of prisoners that same year. These first photographs look a little different from modern mug shots. This is largely because there were no officially trained police photographers in New Zealand at the time. Instead, the police relied on commercial photographers and amateur camera enthusiasts to take the mug shots. Because of this, the style of early mug shots in the collection of the New Zealand Police Museum vary greatly from photograph to photograph.

One common element in many mug shots, however, is the display of prisoners’ hands. In 1886, the introduction of fingerprinting in New Zealand was still nearly two decades away, so the inclusion of hands in mug shots provided an additional point of identification for police. Missing fingers, scars, and the general shape and condition of the prisoners’ hands could all help in the identification of a suspect.

Here, these images below show a few examples of prisoners with distinctive hands from the 19th century:

Ah Chop (b. 1854, China). Charged with attempted larceny and sentenced to 2 years in gaol on April 9, 1889 (Invercargill). A miner by trade, he is described as being a pagan by religion with a sallow complexion. Photograph taken on June 15, 1889.

Alex Haddlestone alias Fiddlestone/Thomas Edwards/Edmunds/Allan (b. 1861, New Zealand). Charged with larceny and sentenced to 18 months in gaol on October 24, 1886 (Blenheim). Previous charges for larceny and false pretences. Photograph taken on August 18, 1886.

Alfred Hyde (b. 1836, Denmark). Charged with forgery & uttering and sentenced to 3 years in gaol on January 7, 1886 (Auckland). A draughtsman by trade. Photograph taken on April 13, 1886.

Alfred Langley (b. 1837, England). Charged with illegal gaming and sentenced to 1 month in gaol on March 20, 1889 (Christchurch). Described as having a mole on his left knee. Photograph taken on April 19, 1887.

Alick Evan McGregor (b. 1869, India). Charged with larceny and sentenced to 1 month in gaol on April 15, 1887 (Hastings). Describe as a “notorious young thief” with a “freckled face.” Photograph taken on May 5, 1887.

Amy Bock alias Laing (b. 1861, Victoria). Charged with false pretences and sentenced to 1 months in gaol on April 30, 1886 (Christchurch). A teacher by trade, she is described as a “swindler” with a “superior” education. Photograph taken on May 28, 1886.

Andrew Dawson (b. 1865, New Zealand). Charged with larceny and sentenced to 6 months in gaol on March 29, 1888 (Napier). Described as “a race-course spieler convicted of picking pockets in an auction mart with Michael Walsh.” Photograph taken on August 14, 1888.

Andrew Munro alias Richard/Richards (b. 1839, USA). Charged with traveling by steamer without paying his fare and sentenced to 1 month in gaol on January 30, 1886 (Auckland). Photograph taken on February 22, 1886.

Aporo Paerata (b. 1855, Gisborne, NZ). Charged with murder and sentenced to death on June 13, 1887 (Gisborne). This sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment on August 3, 1887. Photograph taken on September 1, 1888.

Arthur Dawson (b. 1853, England). Charged with unlawfully wounding and sentenced to 6 months in gaol on January 5, 1886 (Auckland). A wood carver by trade. Photograph taken on June 12, 1886.

Arthur Morton (b. 1857, USA). Charged with false pretenses and sentenced to 4 months in gaol on February 20, 1886 (Auckland). He is described as a widower who was employed as a journalist before being arrested. Large scar under his chin. Photograph taken on June 12, 1886.

Arthur Robert Howard (b. 1850, Scotland). Charged with attempting to obtain money by false pretenses and sentenced to 2 years in gaol on April 5, 1886 (Christchurch). Photograph taken on April 4,  1888.

Bernard Herman (b. 1836, Ireland). Charged with embezzlement and sentenced to 6 months on February 21, 1889 (Christchurch). Described as having scars on his right leg and his back, and a deformed right little finger. Photograph taken on July 22, 1889.

Charles Cardiff Flanigan (b. 1845, Ireland). Charged with breaking & entering and sentenced to 9 months on October 9, 1885 (Auckland). Described as having a bullet wound his lower right arm. Photograph taken on March 19, 1886.

Charles Fowler (b. 1851, England). Charged with housebreaking and sentenced to 5 years on October 6, 1888 (Dunedin). A cook by trade. Described as having no middle finger on his right hand and missing front teeth. Photograph taken on June 13, 1888.

Charles Johnson (b. 1863, Germany). Charged with breaking & entering and sentenced to 4 months in gaol on January 4, 1887. Previous charged for being illegally on board a yacht. Photograph taken on August 18, 1887.

Charles Le Fobel, alias Le Fauvre/Fable/Foubel/French Charley (b. 1834, France). Charged with vagrancy and sentenced to 1 month in gaol on March 24, 1887 (Woodville). A cook by trade, described as having a sailor, flag, anchor and female tattooed on his right arm, and four flags, a star and a shield on his left arm. He also has two bullet wounds on his right thigh, and previous convictions for vagrancy, larceny and sheep stealing. Photograph taken on April 6, 1887.

Charles Stevens (b. 1861, Ireland). Charged with larceny and sentenced to 6 weeks on March 7, 1887 (Woodside). Described as a traveler, with his left hand contracted. Photograph taken on April 6, 1887.

Charles Thomas Harris (b. 1843, England). Charged with larceny and sentenced to 12 months on October 3, 1887 (Christchurch). Photograph taken on December 12, 1888.

Charles Rowland (b. 1840, England). Charged with conspiring to cheat and sentenced to 2 years on January 5, 1886. Photograph taken on July 30, 1887 at the Lyttleton gaol.

David Howard Mancroff Ogilvy alias Stuart M Ogilvy (b. 1840, Scotland). Charged with forgery and sentenced to 3 years on April 4, 1884 (Christchurch). Occupation listed as a “linguist” and described as having a “superior” education. Large scar down left eyebrow and cheek. Previous charges for larceny. Photograph taken on July 2, 1886.

David Kirk Rhodes (b. 1847, England). Charged with 9 counts of embezzlement and sentenced to 3 years on April 4, 1887 (Dunedin). Photograph taken on July 11, 1889.

David Mills (b. 1844, Ireland). Charged with being a rogue & vagabond and sentenced to 6 months on October 22, 1887 (Auckland). Previous charges for vagrancy, larceny, and obscene words. Photograph taken on March 29, 1888.

Dennis Collins, alias Murphy/Weston (b. 1852, Ireland). Charged with larceny and sentenced to 6 months on February 3, 1887 (Napier). Previous charges for larceny, vagrancy and horse stealing. Photograph taken on April 6, 1887.

Douglas Hampton, alias Hamilton/Walter Johnston (b. 1860, England). Charged with false pretenses and sentenced to 12 months in gaol on June 8, 1885 (Napier). Previous charges for larceny, willful damage and false pretenses. Photograph taken on March 4, 1886.

Edward Albert Maiver (b. 1870, Tasmania). Charged with larceny and sentenced to 18 months on August 25, 1886 (Invercargill). Previous charges for larceny. Photograph taken on February 20, 1888.

Edward Charles Roberts (b. 1853, England). Charged with cattle stealing and sentenced to 9 months on August 25, 1886 (Invercargill). A farmer, with half bracelet tattooed on each wrist and a cut on his left eyebrow. No previous convictions. Photograph taken on March 22, 1887.

Edward Hughes (b. 1868, Tasmania). Charged with housebreaking and sentenced to 3 years on October 5, 1885 (Dunedin). Photograph taken on January 19, 1888.

Edward Scott (b. 1838, England). Charged with receiving stolen property and sentenced to 12 months on December 5, 1887 (Auckland). Described as having an English coat of arms, a square and compass on his right arm, and a bracelet on each wrist. Photograph taken on September 13, 1887.

Edwin Hillcock (b. 1860, England). Charged with 2 counts of larceny and sentenced to 12 months on April 24, 1888 (Timaru). A farmer, with a mark of cut on little finger of left hand. Photograph taken on February 14, 1889.

Eli Jones (b. 1866, England). Charged with forgery & uttering and sentenced to 2 years on April 8, 1885 (Christchurch). Photograph taken on October 29, 1886.

Francis Small (b. 1869, New Zealand). Charged with soliciting alms and sentenced to 2 months on November 18, 1887 (Auckland). Previous charges for larceny and drunk & disorderly behavior. Photograph taken on February 17, 1888.

Frank Barker (b. 1857, France). Charged with cutting & wounding and sentenced to 18 months on April 8, 1885 (Auckland). A sailor. Photograph taken on June 12, 1886.

Frank Chaplaw, alias Claplaw/Claphaw/Challis (b. 1866, England). Charged with 5 counts of false pretenses and sentenced to 3 months on each charge. Both hands crooked. Photograph taken on June 28, 1889.

Frank Eustice Allan (b. 1847, USA). Charged with forgery & uttering and sentenced to 12 months in 1888 (Christchurch).

Frederick Austin alias Frances DeMaurier (b. 1868, Jersey). Charged with breaking & entering and sentenced to 9 months on January 4, 1887. A tailor. Photograph taken on August 18, 1887.

Frederick L Flint (b. 1830). Charged with false pretenses and sentenced to 1 month on July 7, 1887 (Christchurch). A journalist. Photograph taken on July 30, 1887 at the Lyttleton gaol.

(Photos: New Zealand Police Museum)




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