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Victorian Prisoner Mugshots Brought to Life with Color and Motion

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I’m Nick Harris, a photo restorer and colourizer at Photo Restoration Services. I take immense pride in my work and the preservation of memories for future generations. I’d love to share a recent project of mine, of colorized Victorian prisoner mugshots.

They’re fascinating, particularly the method of using a mirror to reveal the prisoners’ side profiles and hands all in a single photo. People are enamored by old photos and I believe these stories and historical photos really deserve to be seen.

Photos post-1890 utilize a shoulder mirror, cleverly positioned to capture the prisoners’ full face and profile in a single shot. They showed their hands to reveal any distinguishing characteristics such as tattoos, birthmarks or even missing fingers, like the unfortunate Joseph Wildsmith.

Joseph Wildsmith jailed in 1887 for theft – perhaps he lost the tip of his finger during the act!
London born Seaman Benjamin Parker was aged 30 in 1890. Living in Hull when arrested for housebreaking, he was sent to Dartmoor Prison.

John Cane was a Labourer from Shropshire. He was jailed for sexual offences in 1888 at the age of 26.

Cane comes alive in the below motion photo, giving a real engaging insight in moments leading up to his mugshot being taken.

Barnsley born Alfred Hirst, a married Coal Miner, was aged 37 in 1890. He served his sentence for theft in Dartmoor Prison.
Hoyland born Nailmaker Isaac Chappell was 46 in 1890. Residing in Barnsley when arrested for theft he spent time in Portsmouth Prison.
Joe Schofield jailed in 1887 for sexual offences
Barnsley born Baker John Wm. Ogden was 27 in 1887. A single man, living in Barnsley, he spent time in Parkhurst Prison for crimes of theft.
Pontefract born Miner James Carey was 46 in 1890. Living in Mexborough when arrested for theft, he spent time in Parkhurst Prison.
Monk Bretton born George Shaw, an unmarried Labourer, was 48 in 1886. He was apprehended for beastiality and sent to Dartmoor Prison.

These colorized mugshots were part of a major exhibition for Barnsley Museums.

You can find more examples of my photo restoration and photo colorizing work on my website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


About the author: Nick Harris is a photo colorizer and restorer based in the UK.

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