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May 7, 2024

Could This be the 19th-Century Batman?

This photo was taken in 1892 in New York. It is an image of Bill Smith. He was not a rich man, philanthropist or playboy like the fictional characters in comics and movies. He worked in a butcher shop.

Bill Smith began his personal fight against crime at the age of 43: he caught a thief who wanted to rob the store. The scoundrel tried to run away with a leg of lamb over his shoulder, but very unfortunately he caught Smith’s attention and got a good beating. Mr. Smith faced the law for this act, but was released by a sympathetic judge.

This inspired Smith to fight on. At first he suppressed all attempts to rob his store, and then he began patrolling the nighttime streets of New York looking for criminals.

Soon Smith conceived an unusual image for himself and commissioned a menacing mask. He needed it to hide his true identity.

The press reported about the hero: “All the locals have heard of this Batman. He walks the night streets, and gangsters, thieves and drunken vagabonds keep their distance from him.”

Batman. The beginning.

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