Cart 0

Pre-Order Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties


Pre-Order Now for Delivery from December 2017

Underworld: Mugshots from the Roaring Twenties features intriguing mugshots of police suspects from 1920s Sydney, documenting the denizens of the criminal underworld, from stone-cold gangsters to wayward youths, and providing a remarkable rogues’ gallery of thugs and thieves, prostitutes and pickpockets, white-collar opportunists and blue-collar gunmen.

  • Accompanies the exhibition of the same name opening at the Museum of Sydney from 9 December 2017 - 29 April 2018
  • This stunningly designed book showcases more than 200 duotone images, many never before seen
  • Explores Sydney’s criminal hierarchy of bosses, bruisers, plotters, and petty crims
  • Extended captions draw on fascinating new research to reveal the surprising and poignant stories behind the images

Candid and compelling, these police mugshots capture the colourful and sinister players of the 1920s criminal underworld. Fast times bred new crimes, and illicit markets for alcohol, cocaine and other vices sprang up around the globe. From stone-cold  gangsters to thrill-seeking joy-riders, this remarkable rogues’ gallery exposes the dark side of the Roaring Twenties.

The images are selected from a collection of more than 2500 glass-plate negatives, part of the New South Wales Police Forensic Photography Archive held at the Justice & Police Museum in Sydney. Never intended for public consumption, they are unique among international criminal portraiture. Suspects smile, laugh, snarl, or sneer at the camera and each image is infused with the sitter’s personality.

The accompanying essays ponder the remarkable aesthetic of the images and document the rapidly changing postwar world, exploring how new trends in crime played out on the streets of New York, Paris, and Sydney. The stories of the suspects shine a light on the dark side of the Roaring Twenties in Sydney.

Nerida Campbell is a curator at Sydney Living Museums. She has spent many years interpreting criminal histories.

Luc Sante is a writer and critic based in the USA. He is a longtime contributor to The New York Review of Books, and his publications include Low life, Evidence and The other Paris.

Alastair Sooke is a British journalist and broadcaster. He is an art critic at The Telegraph, contributes a fortnightly column to the BBC’s international website and has written a number of books about art.

Nerida Campbell, with Luc Sante and Alastaire Sooke
December 2017
Hard cover with half dust jacket
288 pages - Over 200 duotone images
235mm x 320 mm
ISBN 9781876991456

Share this Product

More from this collection