Gorgeous Vintage Mug Shots


The modern mug shot is not often a work of art. Suspects are often dragged into the station and immediately photographed in whatever sorry state they happen to be in at the time of the crime, and the perfunctory shots are (we imagine) taken with little to no concern for lighting or style. Plus they have to hold up those terrible printed signs. How soulless our modern age! We must admit, however, that we had no idea how beautiful mug shots could be until we came across these gems from Australia’s Justice & Police Museum on designer John Gall’s blog. The photos are haunting and resplendent in their depth, all weathered and written-on, and the faces of the criminals speak untold volumes. Click through for the best photographs of dirty crooks you’ll ever see, and join us in speculating about their crimes.

Never returned that cup of sugar.

Operation of a dog-fighting ring.

Animal cruelty. Also cruelty to passerby.

Criminal mischief in the first degree; to wit, stealing of proper ladies’ undergarments.

General Don Draperism, clearly.

Publicly cavorting with a group of improper, if alluring, ladies.

These ladies.

Directing films of unsavory and indecent quality.

Insider trading.

We have no idea what these two did, but we sure know who the ringleader was.


Public indecency. To wit, revealing himself to a young lady on the promenade.


Absurdly late library books.

Masquerading as a gentleman to gain entry into a government building.

Intentional blindness and public buffoonery.

Gold-digging. And subsequent murder when things weren’t happening quickly enough.

Public indecency. To wit, the hair.

Petty theft; cavorting with ruffians.

First degree murder.

Broke the Mayor’s window with a baseball.

Teaching banned books.

Grand larceny. Why, did you think there was something else?