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Old 03-14-2016, 01:03 PM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
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Boy, you put down a great deal about the "Black Museum". I can't go into much of it, but I'll try go point out a few things.

Reverend Benjamin Speke disappeared in 1865 and it was what they refer to as a "nine day wonder". The blameless clergyman was the brother of the African Explorer and discoverer of Lake Victoria (he was alone, but his exploration partner James Grant was ill in a tent a few miles back), John Hanning Speke. The explorer had died in a shooting incident (some still suspect it was suicide) when he was about to appear at a debate with his former partner in an earlier expedition, the famous Richard Burton. Burton was a gifted debater (and writer) and probably would have won the debate - but we'll never know. Benjamin Speke was found at the end of nearly two weeks, working as a cattle drover on a country farm. He returned to his home, and died in 1881, possibly a suicide by drowning. What caused the disappearance was never revealed.

Reverend John Selby Watson was one of the few murderers who had his biographical entry in the original Dictionary of National Biography. He was headmaster of a small school in London, and augmented his meager earnings (which were never raised) by translations and learned books that were not big money generators. However, I can vouch that his translation of the Roman-Greek historian Polybius was included in a "Viking" paperback with three other ancient historians forty years back. His last work of scholarship, a history of the Papacy, failed like the other books did. Unfortunately he was now super-annuated, and the Board of Trustees thanked him for his services and replaced him - they did not give him any final gift or annuity. His wife had become an alcoholic, and she confronted him at home and in the course of an argument he bludgeoned her. It actually is a manslaughter, but he compounded the crime by trying to "hide" the body, behind a sofa. When he realized he could not plan a sudden clever burial or dismemberment (he never was the type) he took some poison. A servant found him and got the doctor...and the police. Nobody expected Watson to hang - it was abundantly clear that his crime was tied to cruel poverty and unfeeling employers. While on death row (he was found guilty of first degree murder) several parliamentary members in discussing the case judged the man's ability for translating Greek. The sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. He died in that accident in his cell in 1884.

Maria Clousen is the victim of a case which has annoyed Crime Historians since 1871 when it occurred: the "Eltham Case". A made in a house in Eltham, near London, she had been seeing a great deal of one Edmund Pook, whose family (a middle class one) lived in Eltham, but who (despite being a epileptic) was actually pursuing a career on the music hall circuit. One night in the fall of 1871 Maria was hurrying up with her chores when a fellow servant asked why she was in a rush. Maria explained she had a date with Edmund. She ran out and was never seen alive again (her corpse, attacked with a hatchet) was found in a nearby "lover's lane". Suspicion fell on Edmund, and he was arrested. But soon the case descended into a farce. A solicitor also named Pook (but not a relative, apparently) felt Edmund was being railroaded. This guy did everything to gather a minor dream team to defend Edmund, and to discredit anyone who testified for the prosecution. There was evidence that Edmund's movements that night were suspicious and furtive, but the defense attacked and attacked and questioned everything. Then came the testimony about what Maria had said as she was leaving to the fellow servant. The solicitor named Pook and his barrister partner insisted it was hearsay and not under any exception (it was not given to a figure who had legal right to hear and make note of it - a senior servant or somebody who had the legal obligation to protect Maria). As a result it had to be thrown out. Edmund Pook was acquitted.

There was also a criminal libel trial on the case that resulted in another victory for the Pook family and it's offspring (still using Pook the solicitor!). Then there a last trial - a civil suit that it was a mistake for the Pooks to have pursued. It seems the level of proof needed for evidence in civil suits is far more flexible than in criminal cases. This time Sergeant Ballentine, a prominent barrister of the day, was defending the defendant in the civil case, and when Edmund got on the stand forced him to make revelations he had not been forced to make in the earlier cases...statements showing he had opportunity, motive, and possibly access to the weapon. The jury voted against the Pooks in this case, and the family's reputation was finally destroyed by their over-reaching. They'd gone to the legal water trough once too many times.

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Old 03-14-2016, 07:59 PM
TradeName TradeName is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 589

Thanks, Jeff.

Here's an account of the alleged threat against the Czar's yacht mentioned in one of the Black Museum articles.

The Saturday Review, October 2, 1880, Pages 414-415


Just as the excitement about the Watford dynamite was settling down into the condition which precedes absolute oblivion, a fresh scare of the same kind, and probably not unconnected with the former, came from Glasgow. There, as diligent readers of their newspapers are aware, lies, and has for some time been lying, all but ready for sea, a new yacht built for the Czar by some Glasgow shipbuilders. The Livadia is one of the numerous, costly, and it may be added hitherto not very successful, experiments of the indefatigable Admiral Popoff. Upon a huge raft-shaped hull, like an air-cushion, or rather like an inflated John Dory in shape, rises a short superstructure with straight sides, and then a kind of infinitely magnified deckhouse, arranged rather like a sumptuous palace on shore than a confined and awkwardly shaped sea-home. Whether this queer craft will be nautically a success remains to be seen. But she was intended to be something more than a mere pleasure-boat. Her speed was to bo very great; her capacity as a troop-ship would, in case of need, be enormous; and, though it would be difficult to armour-plate her in any way, her great low-lying platform, based on a sort of life-raft, divided into an immense number of compartments, could very easily have heavy artillery mounted on it, and would, at least in theory, be almost unsinkable by shot. Hence the Livadia would be, if she answered her designer's demands on her, a considerable addition, not merely to the Czar's comfort, bat to the strength of the Russian navy, and she is all the more likely to be the mark of the attempts of the restless conspirators who are ready to strike anywhere at an exposed and vulnerable point. Moreover it was supposed, at any rate at one time, that the Grand Duke Constantine would himself command the Livadia on the voyage to Russia. Thus a remarkable opportunity of killing divers birds with one stone presented itself to the Nihilists, who, it may be added, are also, since the semi-official statement that the dynamite found at Watford had been in all probability lying there for some days, strongly suspected of the attempt to blow Hp the North-Western train. The Livadia, it should be observed, from her peculiar construction, offers a good deal of temptation to the particular form of destructive agency supposed to have been adopted.

Of the main facts there seems to be no doubt; which is a good deal more than can be said for the former attempt. It is said positively that information was received a week ago from St. Petersburg, and also from Geneva, a great haunt of Russian malcontents, that three men had left London with "Thomas" clocks intended for the destruction of the yacht. These ingenious devices, it may be remembered, are named from, and were first employed by, the author of the Bremen explosion. Nitroglycerine is the explosive agent, and in the case is included a piece of mechanism going by clockwork for as many days as may be thought proper. At the conclusion of the time, and not before, a hammer strikes the detonating fuse connected with the nitroglycerine, and the explosion takes place. Although these clocks have been much talked of, it is not to be supposed that many people have been actually acquainted with them; but there is nothing mysterious in their construction, though whether it is possible to obviate the risk of a premature explosion from some chance concussion is indeed not quite clear. In a trading-ship they can of course be concealed very conveniently among parcels of merchandise or passengers' luggage. But a favourite notion as to their use is that they should be concealed among the coals; romance, if not history, going so far as to say that they have been or may be fashioned so as to look like large blocks of the fuel and thus to escape detection. The coal bunkers in the Livadia are in the lowest part of the structure, and therefore excellently situated for the production of the most destructive explosion. Further, it is said that tho three persons indicated actually endeavoured to obtain access to the Livadia, which was naturally an object of great curiosity to Glasgow sightseers. But warning had been received in time, and, on a different pretext, visitors were excluded. Since that time the Livadia has been guarded with a good deal more care than most ships of war off an enemy's coast. Nobody is admitted into the yard without giving ample explanations; detectives wander about the yard and the ship herself; the coal already on board has been taken out and examined, and everything admitted on board in future is to be poked and probed with the assiduity of the most jealous exciseman. Bold as well as wary as the Nihilists have more than once proved themselves, it [sic] not very likely that they will endeavour to elude this vigilance just now. Yet it is only fair to remember that the explosion at the Winter Palace took place under conditions apparently far more prohibitory than any which can apply to the Livadia. An immense number of workmen, sailors, and others must be perforce admitted to the ship for whom it would be very difficult for anyone personally to answer. The examination of the coal more particularly suggests itself as an extremely difficult business to carry out thoroughly. On the whole, it is probable that only those persons who are ardently in quest of a new sensation would care to accept a berth on board the Livadia for the trip to the place whence she takes her name, despite the promise of next to no motion, of lofty courts and halls instead of 6tifling cabins, and even of flower-gardens and other phenomenal luxuries to relieve and contrast with the monotony of the sea.

It is impossible, taking the facts as stated, to resist the conclusion that the Nihilists are by no means inclined to give up the game, or to abandon their old way of playing it, despite the comparative lull which the iron hand and velvet glove of General Loris Melikoff have together brought about of late in Russia itself. It is, to say the least, unpleasant, and, to say more than the least, somewhat ungrateful, that they should choose England for the scene of their operations. When they were first suspected of the Watford affair, it was stated that the police had with some simplicity requested the best-known Nihilists resident in England to say whether they had had anything to do with it, and had (strange to say) received an indignant denial, couched in terms expressing a very noble sense of English hospitality. Putting the former incident out of the question, this latest attempt does not seem to argue the existence of such a sense in any very lively form. The Nihilists might argue that they only intended to blow up a Russian ship carrying a Russian crew on the high seas. Unluckily, as their inventor found, nitroglycerine clocks are no more certain to keep time than other clocks, and a premature explosion would have at least unpleasant effects on a large number of perfectly innocent people in Messrs. Elder's employ. This consideration, however, is one that rarely deters the Continental, or, for the matter of that, the Irish conspirator. Both are too logical to look at anything but the connexion between the end and the means, and we have no doubt that the horror felt by Orsini's English sympathizers at his waste of innocent blood seemed to his Continental friends as much cant as English sympathy with Irish cattle seems to Mr. Dillon and his colleagues. In such incidents as the Glasgow scare we pay the penalty for being first a hospitable and then a commercial nation. "If you did not build ships for the Czar," the person with the clocks would doubtless say, "I should not blow them up." At the same time it must be admitted that for nervous people these perpetual scares are rather trying. To blow up something is very easy, and dynamite has not the slightest respect for persons. If Mr. Biggar himself had been in the train at Watford, and the fuse had not gone wrong, all his sympathy with Hartmann would not have saved him from a practical experience of the method he recommends. Therefore, on the whole, it will be satisfactory when the Livadia and her crew, and her designer and her commander, and all the rest of her belongings, are well out of the country. At present Glasgow, not an attractive place at any time, may be said to have become less attractive than ever. The incident is a serious, and yet at the same time a half ludicrous, commentary on what is grandly called the solidarity of peoples. We have absolutely nothing to do with the quarrels between the Czar of Russia and his subjects, and it is somewhat trying that the field of battle should be transferred to our railways and shipyards. Foreigners would tell us that we have only to thank the indiscriminateness of our reception of strangers, and the feebleness of our police. But the triumphs of the Continental police itself over determined malcontents well provided with money cannot be said to have been of late years either numerous or convincing. There is, therefore, nothing for it but philosophy and a reliance on the chapter of accidents. The singular duel between the Glasgow police and the three Nihilists will, however, continue to be watched with interest. There is, we suppose, no legal reason for arresting these worthies, and the mere possession of a nitroglycerine clock could hardly be made an offence. But really we have at the present moment quite a sufficient supply of bloodthirsty scoundrels to deal with at home, and it would be obliging of the Nihilists not to make further contributions to the list.


A drawing of the yacht from Google books.

The Engineer, Volume 50, July 16, 1880, Page 48

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Old 03-15-2016, 01:11 AM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Flushing, New York
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Fascinating TradeName. Looking at the picture of the Lividia it did not strike me as so stable a craft as the article suggested. However it was made for the comfort of the Tsar, Alexander II of Russia in 1880. Ironically he would be assassinated by nitroglycerine bombs on the Nevski Prospect in St. Petersburg in March 1881, in a particularly horrible manner (his legs were blown off by the bombs - he was taken back to the Winter Palace to die, in front of his sons and daughters and grandchildren, many of whom would also die violently in the Russian Revolution thirty six - thirty seven years later).

The reference to the "Thomas" clocks is not to the American Seth Thomas clocks from New England. It is connected to the 1875 "Bremerhaven" Dock Explosion that killed between 60 and 100 people who were on a dock or boarding a docked steamer. The perpetrator was one "William Thomas", who was watching the loading (by a crane) of a barrel in which was a specially designed "infernal machine" that was created with a set timer to blow up when the ship was in mid ocean sinking the vessel quickly. Thomas and his associates did not care about casualties (if anyone survived they were fortunate), but it was for the inflated insurance paid out on the items Thomas was shipping - the insurance company would have to pay out because there was no way to check out the wreck.

What happened here was that the crane had not properly bound up the barrel/crate it was lifting, so that it fell back onto the dock's platform. When it did the explosives blew up and caused all the death, destruction, and havoc. Thomas saw this, and went into his cabin on the other ship. He realized no ships would be allowed out of the port until the police investigation was completed, and that soon they'd find his name linked to the barrel/crate and would locate him for interrogation regarding what was inside and why. Shortly a shot was heard in the cabin. Thomas shot himself in the head, but would live a few days (his wife would see him before he died). A note he wrote admitted his guilt, but mentioned nobody else.

It turned out he was a con-man and criminal named Alexander Keith from Halifax, Nova Scotia. His career spanned back to the American Civil War, where he was a southern sympathizer (basically because Canadians did not think highly of the U.S. from historical conflicts like the War of 1812; but he was also quite an opportunist in getting rich quick). Keith soon was involved in blockade running, and smuggling. Frequently his partners being cheated. Some ended up dead - the Bremenhaven incident was not the first suspicious death associated with him, nor his earliest involvement in barratry for insurance. Ironically one of his earlier instances of this tied him with another killer. In 1864 John Wilkes Booth had sent his trunks of theatrical clothing to be shipped to New England by a ship from New Brunswick that Keith was a silent partner in. The Captain was a man who knew Booth in Montreal, and had entertained the actor at his own home. The Captain was lost with the boat which was lost at sea (no cause was ascertained as the ship disappeared). It's cargo had been insured by Keith, so he pocketed the money - it's doubtful Booth ever got a penny for his lost costumes.

Keith's biography is in Wikipedia.

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Old 03-15-2016, 03:59 PM
TradeName TradeName is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 589

Thanks for the information about the "Thomas clock," Jeff.

Here are a couple of articles from 1885 about an alleged handbook for thieves.

Pall Mall Budget, February 20, 1885, Page 15

The Robber's Vade Mecum

A Popular Guide to the Science of Larceny

The quotations and descriptions to be here given from the proof-sheet, of a long promised volume bearing the above title are laid before the public with the one object of promoting the observance of honesty, by exposing the methods of the criminal class, and not as indicating the very smallest patience with the positively dazing purpose of the author. That purpose, according to a prefatory note, is “to supply the young of both sexes with a concise manual of the art of being supported by involuntary contributions to the end that all portable kinds of property may have a more equal distribution and a more penetrating and utilitarian currency.” Nor is it necessary, after quoting this, to refer at any length to the opening chapter of the coming volume, treating of “The Ethics of Dishonour"——presenting an analysis of the various ways in which men of exalted position may commit robberies without breaking the law, and concluding with an almost passionate exhortation against “the eighth deadly sin,” which is described as “being found out.” It will be enough in the way of preliminary to quote a brief passage from the chapter on training:—-

There is no Royal road to the successful practice of dishonesty, and the removalist who has allowed the golden years of his youth to slip away without ever sneaking his father’s Peter (watch) or plucking a brooch from his mother's mom, or, better still, making a secret collection of buttons from the coats of various policemen in his neighbourhood, may find that his liberty is very seriously threatened in the fuller exercise of his calling. The gonoph (thief) who is caught, is caught through clumsiness, and merits the full humiliation that Fate is known to visit upon the wicked and the unsuccessful alike.

In an early part of the volume there is an extraordinary chapter on Police Practice and Regulations, and from this two seemingly important facts are to be derived. In the first place, it is broadly insinuated that the policing of London railway-stations is a preposterous fraud:—-

Thc metropolitan coppers can only enter under certain conditions and restrictions, and the work of the company has to be done by a batch of amateurs, whose main interest is to see that the window-leathers of the carriages are not stolen as shaving-strops, and who naturally do not care for the possessions of the public one single jot. Witness the rich harvest of clocks and slangs (watches and chains) that has been gathered at South Kensington station during the days of the Health Exhibition.

“Of removals from the person” our author says:—-

The happy hunting ground of the removalist is the race meeting. At a recent “Derby” an experienced detective from Scotland-yard was separated from a sum of £10, contained in his right trouser pocket, without cut or tear. Ladies' bags, field glasses and breechpokes (purses) can be gathered like blackberries; but the characteristic take of the racecourse is the “tying up of a Jay," as it is called, a most ingenious and amusing method of clearing off the peter of any suitable mug (victim), and indeed anything else that on him is. The company must consist of at least three, and preferably of four, gonophs (thieves), and the time of action is the moment when the horses are running. The two strongest members of the company take their places to the right and left of the mug to be operated upon; the man who is nimblest in the fingers stands behind, and the fourth confederate, if there be one, places himself in front as a screen. The role of the two side men is boisterous and stupid excitement. They shout and yell, exult and lament, and perhaps make extravagant bets and absurd predictions. And towards the climax of the race, when the Jay is positively mesmeriscd by the spectacle of the steeds flying and bobbing before him, they place their arms under his, and hoist him clean off his feet. The operation is most emphatically successful when Juggins (the victim) is made to believe that his two neighbours are genuinely clumsy and stupid, and when he laughs indulgently at their bucolical enthusiasm. The breeches should be ripped with a razor, and the slang (chain) should be taken with the watch, if possible, by snipping with a penknife the button-hole that it is fixed in. An excellent first stage in this operation of “tying up" is to give the Jay a smart rap on the hat, or even to smash it down like a concertina. It is the instinct of a decently dressed Englishman to throw up his arms if his hat is molested.

The highest and most profitable kind of theft from the person is performed, it appears, by men of cultivation and even of capital—-thieves who are able to await opportunities, and to travel abroad, if need be, after or with their victims. The intending larcenist will strike up a conversation with a likely looking Jay in a public conveyance, a restaurant, or a place of amusement, and win his friendship. Sometimes he will penetrate into a club or boarding-house, and, much more often, into a good hotel where plenty of rich bachelors reside in the season. He will learn where the money and valuables are kept, and miss no opportunity of taking a wax impression of any keys that he may gain access to. He will also get possession of visiting cards, and read and copy private letters and documents; but as a rule he will not commit the actual theft himself. He remains the “guide, philosopher, and friend” of the Jay right to the end of the chapter, and should that Jay be robbed abroad, may possibly lend him a little of his own money to enable him to return to England.

Descending somewhat in the scale of crime, we come to simple “buzzing,” or the picking of pockets. Purses and watches are the almost exclusive haul of the pickpocket, and 90 per cent. of these thefts happen in crowds. Many of the quarrels to be heard in the streets of London are got up entirely for the purpose of collecting crowds for the pickpockets to work in. Some thieves operate simply with their hands, but others use a knife or razor, in order to cut through coats and dresses, and especially to get the purses from ladies. The trouser pocket of a man can easily be emptied in a crowd by slitting down the seam with a razor, hooking the instrument into the aperture, and sawing from within outwards, A thief will often do his work with an overcoat on his arm to hide the movements of his hand; this especially in the omnibus or train. Newspapers and handkerchiefs are also used for this purpose, and with the help of the latter it is common for scarf pins to be stolen. “Excuse me, sir, you have some dust on your neck,” says the thief to the victim, and in pretending to brush off the dust he removes the pin by grasping it through the handkerchief. When a watch is stolen it is generally separated by grasping the instrument itself in one hand, and the ring thereof between the thumb and finger of the other, and then giving a sharp twist, so that a tiny steel pin gives way and falls, the watch being taken and the chain left hanging. There are ways, too, in which a Jay’s possessions may be entirely removed in spite of the most extreme precautions. The following quotation will provide an instance:—-

There is a method of removing watches and chains that is likely to get more and more into favour as time goes on, for it is easy, almost perfectly safe, and always unlikely to be confided to the police. The Jay selected should, if possible, be a stout, prosperous, credulous old buck, with two or more chins, and a rich, jingling walk. The mollhook should have soft, well-bred hands and gloves of crimson silk, not kid, having upon them a small sprinkle of some rare perfume. When the moment for action arrives, she is to clasp her hands over the eyes of the Jay with a rich, tuneful, and modest laugh, and exclaim, “Who is it?" If Juggins should happen to turn upon the siren distrustfully, she may laugh or beg his pardon, allege that she took him for her father or brother, and skip merrily away; but if he does not, the gonoph in front may have a fine time of it. As a rule the jay contents himself at once—-especially if the siren kisses his cheek, which she may do with impunity, for it is not an assault—-and begins deliberately to make guesses. His thoughts go forty years back, and he cries out, “It is Clementina!" “No, sir, it is not,” says the mollhook musically; “you must guess again, you darling old thing.” “Then,” says the hapless Juggins, “it must be little Clara, surely." "Nearly right, but not quite,” says the wench, and so on; until the deluded and denuded mug is permitted to turn and face the blushing and apologising young gentlewoman who has mistaken him for her “dear old dad.” “ Come back, my child; I will adopt you," said an elderly M. P. a little while ago, in a street at Kensington, as he glanced mildly at the curtseying and retreating figure of the only woman who had ever embraced him. “Come! here is my card: I represent South So-and-So in the Conservative interest. May I invite you to one of our picnics?"

From which teaching the moral for worthy citizens is abundantly clear. In a subsequent article the reader shall be initiated, both by quotations and illustrations, into the arts and mysteries of the industry that goes by the name of Burgling. Meanwhile, it is only an act of justice to the author of this “Robber’s Vade Mecum" to say that he sternly deprecates all kinds of violence in his treatise. “The thief is always to remember,” he says, “that a Jay is made of human flesh and blood like himself; and, indeed, even in the extreme instance of burgling, it is to be recognized that the occupant of the house may often have as much right to be there as the burglar has.”


Pall Mall Budget, June 5, 1885, Pages 17-18

The Robber's Vade Mecum

A Popular Guide to the Science of Larceny.--(second Notice)

“Of Burgling and Allied Operations.” Such is the solemn heading of the seventh of the ten chapters of the lawless “Vade Mecum ” recently criticised and quoted from at some length in these columns. The previous chapters are all full of a dark interest. They deal with what are conventionally called frauds and confidence tricks. For example, the reader is told how the bags of travellers at railway stations may be safely removed by the process of extinguishing or capping them with a portmanteau that is hollow underneath and provided with inward springs for the purpose of grasping the victimized packages; how the changes are rung, especially in jewellers’ and pawnbrokers’ shops, where brass trinkets are deftly substituted for the real valuables; and how “gonophs” go out “on the fiddle"—-that is to say, how thieves go forth simply to make chance and promiscuous acquaintances in order to swindle them, or perhaps only to make them pay for their dinners. But when the writer comes to burglary, which he describes as a form of “tax collecting with violence or coercion,” and which he avers should only be attempted by “what the astute governor of a London prison has called ‘the aristocracy of crime,’" he is on his mettle. Here is a quotation from the author’s preliminary exhortation:—-

If you burgle, burgle well. Spend capital fearlessly, and play for high stakes. The futility of running risks for a mean and insignificant reward is in no way better emphasized than in some of the cell-wall inscriptions collected by that paragon of misdirected holiness, Mr. J. W. Horsley, the chaplain of Clerkenwell Prison. Think of this:—-

When I get out I do intend
My future life to try and mend,
For sneaking’s a game that does not pay;
You’re bound to get lagged, do what you may.

Or this, “Ten days and ten years for a box of money, with 9s. 7d. in the box.” Or, if you would realize the pathos of penal servitude, and make it an incentive to cautious and reasonable ambition, imagine the weariness of the lone brother who wrote "3,330 bricks in this cell,” a passage that a man who must be a poet as well as a priest has called “a rosary of wan hope.”

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The knowledge of practical housebreaking, it appears, is to a great extent the knowledge of housebreaking implements and their uses. One cannot therefore do better in this place than offer a description of the things that form the usual contents of a burglar's bag. The illustrations in the following page, which of course are not proportionate in dimensions, are given in the eighth chapter of the volume under review. First comes the dark lantern. It is not indispensable, and it seems that many of the best “busters,” or housebreakers, prefer merely to use a small scrap of candle ,others use a common bull’s-eye. Next come the instruments for opening a door which is locked on the inside by manipulating the key through the keyhole. The illustration (fig. 2) explains itself; but it may be mentioned that there are other tools in use for exactly the same purpose, 'notably a contrivance like a crayon-holder, which is made to tighten upon the end of the key by means of a screw and a milled head. The twirl shown in fig. 3 is an instrument needing much patience in its use; but its genuineness and efficiency will be realized when it is said that “deftly employed, the axis of rotation of the key and the axis of rotation of the twirl may be made identical.” “This instrument,” adds the author, “should be made of tough brass or of steel tempered to a deep blue.” The most convenient form of auger for burglarious use appears to be that adopted by “the late Mr. Charles Peace,” who is referred to throughout the work with an affection that is tempered and modified only by a touch of censure regarding his “utterly unprofessional and irrelevant enterprises in the way of love-making.” As to ladders and knotted ropes, it would seem that the run of burglars have used them principally for purposes of exit, but Peace gave a new life to the practice of using them for admission, and went so far as to invent one for his own use (fig. 5). “A highly successful member of our profession,” says the author, “is in the habit of using a ladder of thin, black rope, and placing its sharp hook upon window-sills and porticos by means of a telescopic fishing-rod made of bamboo, and provided with a fork at its thin extremity.” Wedges, we learn, “are most useful when made of new elm or ash, and left rough from the friction of the saw.” They are used in burgling for blocking the inmates of a house in or out of their rooms, according to circumstances; and, it may be added, they must be useful to travellers living in small isolated hotels for the supplementation of ramshackle locks. We now come to the “jemmy ” or “James,” and here is the character that our author gives it:—-

As the lion is king of the forest, so the jemmy is the prince of the burglar’s instrument case. It is the magical “open sesame " that the outraged gonoph utters at the gate of the cave of treasures held by the rich thief who has never broken the law. The jemmy is of many kinds and sizes. A “lord mayor,” which is used almost exclusively for safes, is generally about the height of a “member of parliament"—-by-the-bye, did the reader ever note the blind adoration of height evidenced in the fact that most of these gentlemen are abnormally tall?--and is carried in parts, which are screwed together with hollow circlets like an iron gaspipe. The “alderman ” comes next and the “common councilman" last, although the instrument is sometimes made so small as to be available for the opening of small cash boxes and jewel cases, when it is desired to lighten the bulk of the things to be taken away from a building. Most of these tools are made of worn-out files, for in these we have the very best cast steel. They are soft in their thickest parts, and “tempered spring-hard" at their working points. The uses and varieties of the James will be at once understood when it is explained that it is used as a lever of the third order.

The other things required, it would appear, are a keyhole saw for enlarging holes made with the auger, a strong glazier's knife for taking out windows and stripping off panel beadings, a good collection of skeleton keys and picks, which can be obtained at any locksmith's, a sheet of pitchy canvass to flap against glass that is about to fall, a supply of paper of the colour of any outer door to be broken through, for sticking on the apertures in case of police visits to the rear of the premises, a screwdriver, a bradawl, and a piece of high roast meat, containing a pinch of sulphate of atropia to lull the dog with.

Plus the above articles, and fortified with that knowledge of the structure, the regulations, and the “strength” of the house, which, the author says, can only be obtained by a vast expenditure of time, tact, and capital—-and he adds that there is an owner of public conveyances in London who does not hesitate to spend such a sum as a couple of thousand pounds for such a purpose!-—the burglars, preferably two in number, will , begin their work. The fol10wing are the recommendations of the “Vade Mecum” in this regard:—-

Never touch the front door of a conspicuous or exposed house, especially in London, and be very wary about effecting an ingress by the front area. When anything of the kind is done, a plausible third man should be employed to feign intoxication and delay the march of the nearest policeman, and a fourth to watch the house. This last operator should not whistle; he should signal in some way that is not calculated to excite suspicion, as plenty of good burglars have been whistled by their companions into penal servitude. If the premises are approached from the rear, or side, by a garden wall, it should be noted whether a line of tell-tale cotton has been laid in the way. When the time--which had better be between two and three o'clock—-has been fixed upon, the operators should lose not a moment in getting out of sight of passers by and beyond the range of vision of neighbours’ windows. Unless there are sheets of iron behind the doors and windows (bars are useless, as their fastening in the wood may be destroyed), and sensitive bells hung to them, the process of getting into the house is always the easiest part of the whole burglary. Once inside, the operators will place their boots at a spot where they can instantly be reached in making a sudden exit, and begin work according to their special knowledge of where the people and the goods are. The plate of the pantry and the trinkets of the boudoir are of course the chief things to make for; but it is an excellent rule to institute a collection from the most accessible parts of the house, and prepare them for removal, before running any risk of “a tumble." The fastening of the inmates in their rooms by means of the hooks displayed in fig. 10, or the wooden wedges shown at fig. 6, is an admirable first step in many cases; and it need hardly be added that when the gang are working in a chamber from which it is possible to leave by the window, they should always fasten themselves in.

Enough has now been quoted and described from this “Robber’s Vade Mecum" to show the turn that things are taking in the “ethics, of dishonour”—-to use the author’s own expression—-and also to place the public on their guard against the principal offences that the modern scientific robber is likely to commit. It simply remains that a small taste should be given of this literary burglar’s composition when his mood is flowery and sentimental, as when he writes the following—-the last words of his volume. “ Like the Spartan child," he says, “the exquisitely nurtured bud of a republic, the integrity and happiness of which have been the envy of the centuries, the young thief of to-day must he always learning, always training, and always coveting the possessions of the unjust. If, again, he should love not the memory of Robin Hood and the many saints of the gospel of taking constantly from the rich, and giving—-now and then—-to the poor; if he has no hatred of plutocracy and no adoration of that valorous and eminently practical socialism which does more work in a night than the lecture-room can do in an era, he should fling up the sponge, renounce his noblest aspirations, and adding not hyprocrisy to apostasy, enlist himself as a policeman without further delay.”

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Old 03-15-2016, 10:03 PM
Pcdunn Pcdunn is offline
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I really enjoyed the articles about the Black Museum. While I don't always read everything that appears here, many offerings are fascinating. Keep it up, all.
Pat D.
Von Konigswald: Jack the Ripper plays shuffleboard. -- Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, c.1970.
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Old 03-31-2016, 08:02 PM
TradeName TradeName is offline
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Thanks, Pat.

Here are some bits about Adam Worth which I may reference later.

New York Sun, February 12, 1888, Page 10, Column 4

Thieves and Their Ways

A Talk with [New York Police] Inspector Byrnes Concerning Criminals


"That reminds me, Inspector. Who is Adam
Worth who is reported living in such great
style in London, somewhat after the fashion
you have indicated?"

Adam Worth is one of the class I have
referred to. He is an American and some of his
people live in this city to-day. He fled the
country on account of a Massachusetts bank
robbery. He took over a large amount of
money and set up an elegant private establishment
in London. His home is in Piccadilly.
It is frequented by the highest class of
English criminals and of American crooks who go
across. He is reputed to have added largely to
his wealth through his shrewdness in disposing
of stolen property from the Continent. He is a
swell, I tell you. He lives and acts like a
gentleman, owns a yacht, and all that sort of
thing. Anybody who goes over there from
here and is known as a 'good man' is sure of
being royally entertained by Adam. Yet his place
is, I assume under the surveillance of the police,
and he is liable at any time to make a slip
that will give them a chance to grab him. His
is no double life in the story and the stage acceptation
of such things. He does not have any
society, except that of his kind. With all his
money, and despite his criminal record, his exile
is said to be a bitter dose for him. He is reported to
have made many attempts and offered large
amounts to make a compromise in the bank
case against him, so that he could return to
this country. Criminal as he is, he still has a
longing to revisit the land of his birth. He is
known to have planned and had carried out
some of the most daring robberies in England
of late years, among them that of the Dover
mail train.



Criminals and Crime: Some Facts and Suggestions (London: Nisbet, 1907), Pages 94-99
by Sir Robert Anderson

Chapter VI

Facts like these failed to convince Dr. Max Nordau when he called upon me years ago. At his last visit I put his "type" theory to a test. I had two photographs so covered that nothing showed but the face, and telling him that the one was an eminent public man and the other a notorious criminal, I challenged him to say which was the "type." He shirked my challenge. For as a matter of fact the criminal's face looked more benevolent than the other, and it was certainly as "strong." The one was Raymond alias Wirth—-the most eminent of the criminal fraternity of my time—-and the other was Archbishop Temple. Need I add that my story is intended to discredit—-not His Grace of Canterbury, but—-the Lombroso "type" theory.

Raymond, like Benson, had a respectable parentage. In early manhood he was sentenced to a long term of imprisonment for a big crime committed in New York. But he escaped and came to England. His schemes were Napoleonic. His most famous coup was a great diamond robbery. His cupidity was excited by the accounts of the Kimberley mines. He sailed for South Africa, visited the mines, accompanied a convoy of diamonds to the coast, and investigated the whole problem on the spot. Dick Turpin would have recruited a body of bushrangers and seized one of the convoys. But the methods of the sportsmanlike criminal of our day are very different. The arrival of the diamonds at the coast was timed to catch the mail steamer for England; and if a convoy were accidentally delayed en route, the treasure had to lie in the post office till the next mail left. Raymond's plan of campaign was soon settled. He was a man who could make his way in any company, and he had no difficulty in obtaining wax impressions of the postmaster's keys. The postmaster, indeed, was one of a group of admiring friends whom he entertained at dinner the evening before he sailed for England.

Some months later he returned to South Africa under a clever disguise and an assumed name, and made his way up country to a place at which the diamond convoys had to cross a river ferry on their way to the coast. Unshipping the chain of the ferry, he let the boat drift down stream, and the next convoy missed the mail steamer. £90,000 worth of diamonds had to be deposited in the strong room of the post office; and those diamonds ultimately reached England in Raymond's possession. He afterwards boasted that he sold them to their lawful owners in Hatton Garden.

If I had ever possessed £90,000 worth of anything, the government would have had to find some one else to look after Fenians and burglars. But Raymond loved his work for its own sake; and though he lived in luxury and style, he kept to it to the last, organising and financing many an important crime.

A friend of mine who has a large medical practice in one of the London suburbs told me once of an extraordinary patient of his. The man was a Dives and lived sumptuously, but he was extremely hypochondriacal. Every now and then an urgent summons would bring the doctor to the house, to find the patient in bed, though with nothing whatever the matter with him. But the man always insisted on having a prescription, which was promptly sent to the chemist. My friend's last summons had been exceptionally urgent; and on his entering the room with unusual abruptness, the man sprang up in bed and covered him with a revolver! I might have relieved his curiosity by explaining that this eccentric patient was a prince among criminals. Raymond knew that his movements were matter of interest to the police; and if he had reason to fear that he had been seen in dangerous company, he bolted home and "shammed sick." And the doctor's evidence, confirmed by the chemist's books, would prove that he was ill in bed till after the hour at which the police supposed they had seen him miles away.

Raymond it was who stole the famous Gainsborough picture for which Mr. Agnew had recently paid the record price of £10,000. I may here say that the owner acted very well in this matter. Though the picture was offered him more than once on tempting terms he refused to treat for it, save with the sanction of the police. And it was not until I intimated to him that he might deal with the thieves that he took steps for its recovery.

The story of another crime will explain my action in this case. The Channel gang of thieves mentioned on a previous page sometimes went for larger game than purses and pocket-books. They occasionally robbed the treasure chest of the mail steamer when a parcel of valuable securities was passing from London to Paris. Tidings reached me that they were planning a coup of this kind upon a certain night, and I ascertained by inquiry that a city insurance company meant to send a large consignment of bonds to Paris on the night in question. How the thieves got the information is a mystery; their organisation must have been admirable. But Scotland Yard was a match for them. I sent officers to Dover and Calais to deal with the case, and the men were arrested on landing at Calais. But they were taken empty-handed. A capricious order of the railway company's marine superintendent at Dover had changed the steamer that night an hour before the time of sailing; and while upon the thieves was found a key for the treasure chest of the advertised boat, they had none for the boat in which they had actually crossed. But, mirabile dictu, during the passage they had managed to get a wax impression of it. We also got hold of a cloak-room ticket for a portmanteau which was found to contain some £2000 worth of coupons stolen by the gang on a former trip. The men included in the "bag" were "Shrimps," "Red Bob," and an old sinner named Powell. But the criminal law is skilfully framed in the interest of criminals, and it was impossible to make a case against them. I succeeded, however, by dint of urgent appeals to the French authorities, in having them kept in gaol for three months.

And now for the point of my story. Powell had left a blank cheque with his "wife," to be used in case he came to grief; and on his return to England he found she had been false to him. She had drawn out all his money, and gone off with another man; and the poor old rascal died of want in the streets of Southampton.(1) He it was who was Raymond's accomplice in stealing Mr. Agnew's picture, and with his death all hope of a prosecution came to an end.

(1) "Shrimps" also found that his "wife" had proved unfaithful. He disappeared, and I heard that he had filled his pockets with stones and thrown himself into the sea. Had the men been in an English gaol they would have communicated with their friends; but in Boulogne prison they were absolutely buried, and their women gave them up.


The Greatest Criminal of the Past Century: Adam Worth, Alias "Little Adam" (New York: 1903), Pages 1-6
by Pinkerton National Detective Agency

ADAM WORTH, alias Harry Raymond, was born in the year 1844 in the village of Cambridge, near Boston, of Jewish parents, who had emigrated from Germany some years before. He was fairly well educated. "Little Adam," in his early school days, was a precocious child, full of mischief; and at that time was addicted to making trades in playthings and various other articles with his school fellows much to their disadvantage.


After participating in several robberies through the East, and in fact all over the country, Worth became associated with a gang of bank burglars, consisting of "Big Ike" Marsh, Bob Cochran, (now dead) and Charles Buliard, alias "Piano Charley" (now dead). In looking over the country for work, they visited Boston, Mass., and there Worth discovered that there was a barber shop adjoining the Boylston Bank on Washington Street. He rented this shop, stating that he was the agent for a new patent bitters, and started to fill the front of the shop and windows with his wares and at the same time built a partition across the rear of the shop. The bottles served a double purpose, that of showing his business, and preventing the public from looking into the place. The wall of this shop was next to the wall of the Boylston Bank. A careful measurement of the bank and of the shop adjoining showed the burglars just where to commence their work. They worked during the night for nearly one week, piling the debris in the rear of the shop and keeping the front of it clean. When they were prepared to enter the vault, which they did, they found therein three safes, which they tore to pieces and removed the contents, amounting to nearly one million dollars in money and securities. With this they fled to New York, where they were followed by Boston detectives, and, being advised through intimate friends of the presence of the detectives who were looking for them, they fled to Philadelphia, from which city Bullard and Worth sailed for Liverpool, while Marsh went to Baltimore and boarded a steamer for Queenstown. Before going they divided the booty. [...]

Bullard and Worth went to Liverpool, Bullard registering at the Washington Hotel under the name of Chas. Wells, and Worth, for the first time, assuming the name of Harry Raymond, after the noted editor of the New York Times. Bullard was inclined to live fast and dissipate, and became greatly infatuated with a barmaid in the Washington Hotel, who was known as Kittie Wells. Bullard afterwards married her under the name of Wells, and she became quite famous in Europe and America as a beauty.

Worth was not idle in Liverpool. He looked around for something in his line, and found a large pawnshop in that city which he considered worth robbing. In Europe, at that time, they did not put the safeguards over their property that they did in America, and he saw that if he could get plaster impressions of the key to the place he could make a big haul. After working cautiously for several days he managed to get the pawnbroker off his guard long enough to enable him to get possession of the key and make a wax impression; the result was that two or three weeks later the pawnbroker came to his place one morning and found all of his valuable pieces of jewelry abstracted from the safe, the store and vaults locked, but the valuables gone. The property stolen was valued at about ,£25,000. Worth then went to London, and Bullard, his partner, went to Paris. Bullard, under the name of Charles Wells, opened the first American bar there was in Paris, at 2 Rue Scriebe. This resort was fitted up in palatial splendor, something like $75,000 worth of oil paintings adorning its walls. The bar was fitted up with fine glass-ware, looking-glasses, and everything which an American bar had in those days. The Parisians were astonished by its magnificence. The place soon became a famous resort and was extensively patronized not only by Americans, but by Englishmen; in fact, by visitors from all over Europe. They made a specialty of making and serving American drinks, which, at that time, were unknown in Europe. The second floor of the house was fitted up as a club room, where files of American papers were kept, and which all Americans were cordially invited to use as a congregating place and many received their mail at this noted house. Later on, Bullard, alias Wells, who was an inveterate gamester, opened a gambling house on the American style, the club room being located on the second floor of the building, importing from America roulette croupiers and experts at baccarat. Mrs. Wells was a beautiful woman, a brilliant conversationalist, who dressed in the height of fashion; her company was sought by almost all the patrons of the house. The fact that gambling was carried on soon reached the ears of the police. They had made two or three raids on the house, but never succeeded in finding anything upstairs, except a lot of men sitting around reading papers, and no gambling in sight. About that time, in the Winter of 1873 or 1874, Mr. William A. Pinkerton arrived in England in pursuit of the men who had robbed the Third National Bank of Baltimore, Md. This gang had been located in an English seaport, and while waiting for extradition papers to arrive,—-it being impossible to arrest them without papers, especially in England, where, at that time, burglary was not covered in the treaty,—-they suddenly became alarmed, and fled the country, possibly on account of Mr. Pinkerton having met two of the gang in Lombard St., London, by accident. Mr. Pinkerton had gone to Paris to endeavor to get trace of them, and, suspecting they would visit Well's bar, kept a close watch there. Then for the first time the Paris police learned who Wells was. They said they knew there was gambling going on in the house, and had made several ineffectual raids to catch them at it, but on reaching the second story found only a number of men sitting around reading papers, with no gambling implements in sight. Mr. Pinkerton explained to the police, that when they approached the place to raid it, the bartender, or "look-out" on the first floor touched an electric button connecting with a buzzer in the gambling rooms, and gave the alarm. The suspicion of the French police had been attracted to the house from a robbery which took place in the barroom. The place was finally raided by the police and Wells and others were arrested charged with maintaining a gambling house, but were admitted to bail. In France, burglary was at that time covered by extradition treaty, and Wells, being held on a charge of gambling in heavy bonds, fled to England, leaving the house in custody of Raymond. One day, shortly after Wells left, a diamond dealer, who had frequented the place showing his wares, called in with a bag of jewels, which he carelessly placed on the floor at his feet. He requested Raymond to cash a check for him, and while the diamond dealer was being accommodated, Raymond attracted his attention. Instantly the bag containing the jewels was picked up, and a duplicate of it substituted, and the thief, who was Joe Elliott, a noted American crook, then in Paris, succeeded in escaping with the bag, which contained £30,000 worth of diamonds. The robbery startled all Paris, and was the means of attracting suspicion to the house, and after the gambling raid took place, the house lost prestige, soon went to pieces, and was afterwards purchased by an English bookmaker, who continued the bar for several years. It was eventually closed.

Bullard moved his wife to London, and she had in the meantime born to him two beautiful girls. Later on he ventured to the United States, where he was arrested in New York City, taken to Boston, and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for the Boylston Bank robbery. He remained in prison several years, from which he escaped. Meanwhile, his wife had obtained a divorce from him, and married a very wealthy planter, and by him had one child. Bullard drifted into Canada, and was later arrested and convicted of stealing chains from a jeweler's shop window in Toronto. He was sentenced to 7 years in the Kingston Penitentiary, and died in poverty shortly after his release.

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Old 03-31-2016, 09:20 PM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
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Location: Flushing, New York
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It's late so I won't be writing too much tonight. But there are one of two points regarding Adam Worth (as his name is now spelled - not "Wirth") to mention.

His theft of the celebrated portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire from the gallery owned by the Agneu brothers in 1876 was a point that was made by several scholars in Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle - as one of the reasons for considering Worth, with his London West End residence, and his home where well known crooks gathered for conferences and discussions, as the model of Professor James Moriarty, Holmes' best known antagonist - and the only one who "dies" with him in their fight at the Reichenbach Falls in "The Adventure of the Final Problem" (1893). Moriarty's background is based on others (no doubt Dr. Selby Watson, the teacher and scholar turned wife murderer is one of them) but in the novel "The Valley of Fear" (1915) the Professor is described by a Scotland Yard Inspector as having a fine portrait behind his desk, which is that of a woman by the French painter Horace Vernet. It is mentioned by Holmes that the Professor (who spent the interview with the inspector explaining how a lunar eclipse worked) owns a painting that is worth like 3,000 pounds, and that he could not possibly afford it in his supposed salary as a professor and occasional writer.

Worth died almost broke in the early 20th Century, and his last success was negotiating (through William Pinkerton) for the return of the Gainsborough painting to the Cavendish family. A biography on Worth entitled "The Napoleon of Crime" (a tip of the hat to Holmes'/Conan Doyle's description of Moriarty in "The Final Problem") was written about a dozen years back. In the early 1970s George Segal and Eliot Gould did a comic film about two 19th Century criminals, "Harry and Walter Go to New York". In it, Michael Caine appeared as Adam Worth.

That pseudonym of "Harry Raymond" is supposedly based on the editor "Henry Raymond", the original editor of the New York TImes in 1851 until his death in 1869. Raymond was a staunch Whig and Republican, and supported the Union cause in the Civil War (and was a large critic of the presidency of Andrew Johnson). He was such a major Republican "voice" that he was a leading Republican national committeeman. His death is still a matter of controversy. Raymond died of a stroke (it was called "apoplexy" in 1869), but a rumor (that still crops up) insisted he was having an affair with a woman - possibly an actress - and that he died from the results of his stroke after seeing her. This has little to do with Worth, but it is of some interest to us.

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Old 04-07-2016, 08:23 PM
TradeName TradeName is offline
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Posts: 589

Thanks, Jeff.

Arthur Brisbane in 1921 recalled the 1888 Sullivan/Mitchell fight, mentioning the presence of the American criminal Billy Porter. In his contemporary coverage of the aftermath of the match, Brisbane mentions that an associate of Porter's, William Raymond, initially attempted to flee from the French police who rounded up the participants and spectators.

I wonder if William Raymond could have been Adam Worth, who used the alias Henry (or Harry) Raymond.

The June 27th Sun article below mentions that Porter was associated with a fence named Johnson, who had lived in Piccadilly and owned a steam yacht. This matches what Inspector Byrnes said about Worth in the February 12th Sun article above.

The Deseret News, July 1, 1921, Page 4


by Arthur Brisbane

[...] For instance,
consider the last fight reported
by this writer for Charles A. Dana
between John L. Sullivan and Charley
Mitchell thirty odd years ago [March 10, 1888] on
Baron Rothschild's training quarters
near Chantilly in France.

The men fought with bare fists,
soaked in walnut juice to harden
their skin. They fought on muddy bare
ground in a cold drizzling rain in
mid-winter. They had long sharp spikes
in their shoes, to grip the mud. Once
mitchell drove his spikes into Sullivan's
instep, perhaps accidently, and
Sullivan uttered his famous remark of
mingled rebuke and self-restraint, "Be
a gentleman, Charley, if you can,
you --- --- ---."

No crowd and no gate receipts at
that real fight. It was fought under
London prize ring rules, each round
lasting until one man went down, with
at least one knee on the ground. [...]

Billy Porter, distinguished and
patriotic American bank burglar, who
had killed two or three men, and fled
to England, and subsequently died a
convict in the German salt mines,
stood just outside the ropes in John L.
Sullivan's corner.

He was neatly dressed, silk hat,
beautiful overcoat with velvet collar
and big pockets. Both hands were in
his pockets. Before the fight began
he tilted his hands upward and two
ugly little round points stuck up
inside the cloth.

"I am here to see fair play for
Sullivan," said Porter. "I suppose
you Mitchell men know what I have
got in my pockets."

The Mitchell men first class thugs,
and carefully chosen, knew well that
Porter had his two "guns" and would
use them. They behaved nicely, abandoning
their plan to break into the
ring, if things went badly for their



New York Sun, March 11, 1888, Page 2, Column 3


Some French Soldiers with Big Guns Capture the Tired Sports

PARIS, March 11, 5 A. M. Five carriage
loads of about twenty men were captured by
gendarmes after the fight. The carriages
were foolishly driving in single file back to
Creil, whence they had come, when they were
stopped on the road by three mounted
gendarmes who had been quietly waiting for
them to come back. The gendarmes drew their
sabres and ordered the coachmen to pull up,
and they, with French respect for the law
representatives, obeyed despite the commands
roared by their prize-fighting fares to go right

William Raymond, an American sporting
gentleman brought by William P. Porter,
determined not to be taken, jumped from
the carriage and made a break for the
woods. The gendarmes drew their pistols
and fired. Raymond came back.[...]


New York Sun, June 22, 1888, Page 1, Column 1

American Burglars Caught

LONDON, June 21.-- Billy Porter and Frank
Buck, well-known American burglars, both
with many aliases, have been arrested in this
city by Superintendent John Shore and officers
of his staff on a warrant for burglary committed
in Zurich. The prisoners have been
identified by Zurich officials. To-morrow they
Will be taken to the Bow Street Police Court
for extradition, for which there is sufficient


Billy Porter is well known all over America
as the partner of Johnny Irving, who was shot
and killed by John Walsh during a row in
Draper's saloon in Sixth avenue on Oct.
16. 1883. Walsh was killed at the same time,
and Porter was tried for killing him, but was
acquitted. Porter, who is 33 years old, is one
of the most skilful safe burglars in America.
In 1879 he and his pals secured $15,000 worth
of valuables from a Providence jeweller. In
the same year he escaped from the Raymond
street jail, Brooklyn, in company with Irving.
In 1884 be went to Europe with Sheeny Mike,
and they returned a year later with $25,000
each, the result of many burglaries in England,
France, and Germany. Porter was
arrested later for robbing the jewelry store of
Emanuel Marks & Son at Troy of $14,000 worth
of goods. He was acquitted on this charge, but
Sheeny Mike, who was arrested in Florida, was
convicted. Later, Billy Porter again went to

Frank Buck is best known as a clever bank
sneak. He has worked with Horace Hovan,
I. W. Moore, Johnny Price, and other notorious
bank sneaks. He was arrested in 1881 for the
larceny of $10,050 in securities from a broker's
office in Philadelphia. For this crime he served
three years in the Eastern penitentiary in
Philadelphia. Since 1885 he has spent a good
deal of the time in Europe.


New York Sun, June 23, 1888, Page 1. Column 1


London, June 22. Billy Porter, alias Morton,
et cetera, the notorious American burglar,
who accompanied John L. Sullivan on his trip
to Europe,
and his colleague, who has lived
under many aliases, including those of Frank
Buck, Bailey, and Allen, were brought up at
Bow street police court this morning, on an
extradition warrant charging them with burglary
at a jeweller's shop in Zurich. It is
alleged that property of the value of £50,000
was stolen. The prisoners did not look at all
nervous or anxious, and appeared to take an
intelligent but not personal interest in the
proceedings of the court.

Buck, or Bailey, is of middle height, rather
stout. He has a red and shaven face, and his
bead is bald on top. with thick silver-gray
hair round the sides. He has the general
appearance of a benevolent and opulent paterfamilias.

Porter, although not quite so genial looking,
is not at all like Bill Sykes. He is of about the
same size as the other, but is younger, and he
has dark brown hair and moustache. Both
were dressed like respectable English citizens
--silk hats, black. tall coats, &c.

An English detective, who knew the prisoners
by sight, stated that he had arrested them
in the Cafe Monico last night. He also stated
that both of them had houses in the suburbs of
London, which were stocked with every kind of
burglars' tools and with so much jewelry and
other plunder that the police had not yet had
time to make an inventory of it.

Swiss witnesses were then called, and one of official in the Police Bureau of Zurich,
gave the particulars of the burglary. He said
that on the night of Sunday, April 30, two
thieves entered the open door of a large building
in the centre of Zurich, which contains a
dwelling house and jeweller shop, proceeded
upstairs, forced open the door of a storeroom,
and descended thence through a hole which
they made in the floor into the shop beneath.
From the shop window they carefully selected
everything of value, principally diamonds, and
retired with the plunder. They left behind,
however, the handles of two files and a piece
of oil-cloth for wrapping-up goods, which a
shopkeeper of Augsburg, whence the prisoners
departed on the preceding Saturday for Munich,
declared he had sold to them.

The magistrate remanded them until Friday
next, ordering the police to produce on that
day an inventory of the things found in the
prisoners' dwelling. The prisoners retired
with dignity and calmness to the seclusion of
their cells.

I called on Chief Detective Shaw at Scotland
Yard to-day. He is a man of middle age and
heavy features and of pretentious manner. He
said it would be Impossible for THE SUN's
correspondent to see Porter, but there was no
questlon about the outcome of the trial.

"We have got in that safe," he said, pointing
to a thick iron box in a corner, " early £4,000
worth of the diamonds and jewelry that Porter
stole, and we have got him so tight that there
is no possibility of his escaping this time. His
term will be so long that it is not likely that he
will ever leave prison alive."


New York Sun, June 25, 1888, Page 5, Column 2

Billy Porter's Mishap

He Said He Had Reformed, but Soon After He Turned Up in Jail

London, June 24.--A few weeks apo I was
in the Chatham Hotel, Paris, when a dapper
and well-dresses man came to the table where
I was sitting, shook hands. and asked me how
New York wan getting along. His face was
familiar and his manner more so, but he was
quiet and thoroughly at his ease. He mentioned
the names of a number of men who are
more or loss known about town in New York,
and eventually it flashed across my mind that
he was Billy Porter, the bank burglar. I asked
him If that was so. You are as "right as a
trivet," he said, "but I am out of the business
now for good. I didn't find it out till I went to
prize fights over here, and that recalled me to
my old life. After that I threw away the old
impressions, and have given up that crowd
and everything connected with it tor good.
Straight buslness will do for me for the rest of
my life. I have been the subject of a good
many hard words, but I don't admit the truth
of them."

"Are you going back to America," I asked,
"to carry out your programme of purity?"

"No," said Porter, with a smile, "they are
not as fond of me in America as they might be,
especially in the better classes. I am going
to take life easy, and I think that Paris and
London will do."

He talked a little more about his life, and
then wandered away to join a crowd of men
who received him with the utmost cordiality.
He was evidently rather popular in Parts,
although I doubt if anybody had the least idea
who he was.

Yesterday morning, on my arrival in London,
I learned that this accomplished character
was in the hands of the police, and
with the aid of letters of introduction from Inspector
Byrnes, who ranks, by the way, with the
three or four Americans who are really known
in Europe, I succeeded in seeing Mr. Porter
again. He was in precisely the spirit that
might have been expected. There was not the
slightest change in his demeaner since I saw
him in Paris, but I felt rather nonplussed. I
could not get rid of the memory that while he
was talking to me in the Chatham Hotel he
had, as is alleged, concealed about his person
or in his room a very great many thousand dollars'
worth of diamonds which he had just
stolen in Munich.

"The whole thing is cooked up," he said,
"and I will come out of it in good shape. but
I cannot talk about it as you will readily understand,"
glancing around at the prison officials
and porters.

The case has not aroused the slightest interest
in England outside of police circles. It is
the general impression that this time the noted
crack is bagged. He is guarded with a degree
of vigilance that precludes all chances of escape.

Blakely Hall.


New York Sun, June 27, 1888, Page 3, Column 7

Two American Burglars

Billy Porter and Frank Buck Will be Taken to Switzerland

Their Daring Robbery of a Jewelry Store--Back in England With $20,000 Worth of Plunder--Buck Weds an English Girl

London, June 20. It is certain that the,
Swiss authorities will obtain the extradition of
Billy Porter and Frank Buck, the American
burglars, who were arrested here a few days
ago on a charge of burglary committed in
Zurich. Porter had been shadowed from the
time he arrived in England, in 18B7. The jewelry
robbery at Munich was the most daring
in the annals of the German police. The
robbers forced a side door, cut through two
ceilings, and descended into the jewelry shop by
means of a rope ladder. They left the ladder
in the shop, together with a piece of linen,
which was afterward found to be identical
with a piece of linen found in Buck's house,
and in which some of the stolen jewelry was
wrapped. With the jewels was found a letter'

"Have left you something to go on with."

Buck tried to conceal in the waistband of his
trousers a large packet of loose diamonds.
Both dressed stylishly and frequented American
resorts in London. They were on friendly
terms with Bond, the famous bank burglar,
and a receiver of stolen goods named Johnson,
who owned a steam yacht. The latter formerly
lived in Chambers. Piccadilly, paying a rent of
£300 yearly. Recently he took a mansion at

Not long ago Porter, Buck, and Johnson had
a carouse in Porter's house at Chelsea. Getting
into a fight. Johnson hit Buck on the head
With a fender[???], and Buck floored Johnson and
trampled upon him, smashing his nose. They
were arrested, but each declined to make a
charge against the other. Subsequently the
three men had another carouse, when all were
arrested and fined in the Bow Street Police
Court for drunkenness. On that occasion,
Johnson gave an assumed name.

Porter was present at the fight between
Mitchell and Sullivan, and was the man at
whom the gendarmes fired when the spectators
were trying to escape after the fight.
recently married a respectable English girl.
He bought a fine house in Walham Green, and
purchased a pair of horses and a carriage.

Superintendent Shaw cleverly recovered a
portion of the Munich plunder, consisting of
800 unset stones, bracelets, rings, and other
articles of jewelry, and $4,500 in English and
French bank notes. The total vulue of the
booty recovered is about $20,000. In each
house were found loaded revolvers, disguises,
superb sets of burglars' tools, and scores of
suits of clothes and hats suitable for every
country in Europe.


New York Sun, June 30, 1888, Page 1, Column 3

News of the Old World

Billy Porter and Buck Taylor Again up in Court

London, June 29.--Billy Porter, alias Morton,
&c., and Buck Taylor, alias Francis Bailey
Allen, were again brought up at Bow Street Police
Court to-day under an extradition warrant
charging them with burglary at Munich, particulars
of which were glven in THE SuN last
Saturday. The case to-day was tried by Magistrate
Slr James Ingham, an attenuated and
very old man. The prisoners were dressed as
last week, but did not look quite so fresh and
calm. Porter in particular looked anxious.

The proceedings consisted entirely of an
examination of the jewelry and other goods
found in the houses of the prisoners. The
former included several envelopes containing
a hundred and more loose diamonds, an envelope
full of gold and diamond scarfpins, lots
of gold watches and chains, rings, bracelets.
&c., the total value being about $20,000. A
casket of valuable jewels was also produced
which had been placed by the prisoners at a
safe depository.

Among the other articles found were a heavy
flat piece of iron with a hole in it known as a
"safe persuader," two loaded revolvers, and a
quantity of ammunition, a lot of shirts, collars
and cuffs, which. it is rumored, are to have an
important bearing on the prosecution, and a
piece of coal such, the police say, as thieves
carry for luck.

Eventually the case was adjourned till tomorrow
without much progress having been
made with it.

The court was enlivened by the presence of
the wives of both prisoners. Porter's wife, a
pretty girl, wore an elegant black mantle
trimmed with beads and lace. and a hat
trimmed with yellow roses. She did not appear
much affectced. Taylor's wife also wore
black, with a violet trimmed bonnet. She was
accompanied by her mother and baby. The
mother, who was weeping, held up his baby to
Taylor, who kissed it with a smile which
softened the hard lines in his face.
Porter's wife had a brlef interview with him.
Porter kissed her, and told her to cheer up, and
it would be all right.

The detectives predict a long term of servitude
in Germany for both.


The Daily News, september 7, 1888, Page 7, Column 1

The Police Courts

BOW STREET.--The Munich Burglary.--Frank
Bailey, alias Frank Buck, and William Davis, alias
Billy Porter, were brought up on remand, under the
Extradition Acts, charged with breaking into a
jeweller's shop at Munich, and stealing therefrom
money and property to the value of 90,000 marks.--Mr.
Mead prosecuted for the Treasury; Mr. Besley defended
Davis; and Mr. Gill, bailey.--The case has
been already fully reported, and as far at the
magistrate was concerned, it was reduced to a mere
question of the nationality of the prisoners, ad, if
they were british subjects, he would be unable by the
obligation of the treaty to hand them over to the
German authorities.--Evidence on both sides having already
been given, and formally committed them to take their
trial in Germany under the Extradition Treaty.


New York Police Inspector Byrnes' dossiers on Buck, Porter and Worth.
Buck and Porter are said to be associates of Worth,

Professional Criminals of America (New York: G. W. Dillingham, 1895), Page 56
by Thomas Byrnes

27. FRANK BUCK, alias "Buck" taylor, alias Buck Wilson, alias George Biddle



Forty-four years old in 1886. Born in Philadelphia, Pa. Married. Engineer. Stout build. Height, 5 feet 5 inches. Weight, 150 pounds. Light hair, gray eyes, light complexion. Three India ink dots on left hand, one on right hand. Bald on front of head. Generally wears a light-colored mustache.


“BUCK” is a very clever bank sneak. He has been working with Horace Hovan, alias Little Horace (25), since 1881. He has also worked with Johnny Price and other notorious bank sneaks.

Frank Buck, alias Bailey, alias Allen, etc., and Billy O’Brien, alias Porter, was arrested at London, Eng., on june 21, 1888, on an extradition warrant charging them with burglarizing a jewelry store on the Marionplatz, in Munchen, Germany, on April 29, 1888. It was alleged that property of the value of £50,000 was stolen.

Since 1885 he has spent a good deal of the time in Europe. Buck, Porter, Johnny Curtain and other fly American thieves have been engineered in Europe by Adam Worth (215), the American ex-thief, still under indictment in Boston for the famous Boylston bank robbery. Worth is a receiver of stolen goods in London, whose place is the rendezvous of all American thieves when they go to that city. He was formerly a bank burglar in this country, and has made a fortune out of his business.

Billy Porter was discharged from custody in London, on September 27, 1888. He proved that he was born on an English vessel, was an English subject, and therefore not extraditable.

Buck was sentenced in this case to ten years imprisonment, and ten years loss of civil rights and police surveillance, by the Judge of the Circuit Court of Munchen, Bavaria, on September 22, 1889. He was delivered to the German authorities by England on October 10, 1888, and was in prison there until his trial in September, 1889.

Pages 76-77

74, WILLIAM O’BRIEN, alias Bllly Porter, alias Morton.



Thirty-six years old in 1886. Medium build. Born in Boston. Married. Printer. Height, 5 feet 5 1/2 inches. Weight, about 145 pounds. Black, curly hair, dark eyes, dark complexion. Has fine set of teeth. Has the following India ink marks: Sailor, with American flag and star in red and blue ink on right arm ; star and cross on outside of same arm ; crucifixion of Christ, woman kneeling and man standing up, on left arm. He is a bright, sharp-looking fellow. Dresses well, and has plenty of nerve. Generally wears a black mustache.


This celebrated criminal is well known all over America as the partner of Johnny Irving, who was shot and killed by John Walsh, alias “John the Mick," during a fracas in Shang Draper's saloon on Sixth Avenue, New York City, on the morning of October 16, 1883. Walsh was killed at the same time, and Porter was tried for killing him, but was acquitted by a jury on November 20, 1883.

Porter, or O'Brien, the last being his right name, began his criminal career early in life, and has been arrested in almost every city in the Union, and is considered second to no one in his business.

Gilbert Yost, burglar, mentioned in this record, died in the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City, Ind., on July 10, 1886.

After Porter's discharge for the Marks jewelry robbery in Troy, N. Y., in September, 1886, he went to Europe. The following is an account of some of his doings there. Billy Porter and Frank Buck, alias Bucky Taylor (27), was arrested in London, Eng, on June 21, 1888, charged with having burglarized a jewelry store at Munich, Germany, on April 29, 1888. Buck was taken to Germany, convicted and sentenced (see record of 27). The English authorities refused to surrender Porter as he was an English subject.

He was arrested again at Toulouse. France, in March, 1890, in company of Horace Hovan, alias Little Horace (see No. 25). They attempted to burglarize a bank there. When discharged in France (date not authentic) he was reported to have been rearrested and taken to Munich for the jewelry store robbery, and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment and banishment to one of the South Sea Islands, where it is said he died. This advice is dated London, Eng., October, 1890.

Pages 147-148

215. ADAM Worth, alias Edward Gray, and Henry Raymond.



The Liege, Belgium, police describe Worth as a man over fifty years of age, “speaking and writing very good English, speaking German and sometimes a little French with an English accent." A robust man, nervous, sanguine, bilious temperament. Short, dark hair, whiskers and mustache Russian style. Eyebrows very gray, mustache less so. Brown eyes. High, forehead. Large nose. Irregular teeth. His measurements, according to the Bertillon method, viz.: Height, 1 metre 61 cent. 5 millim (5 feet 3 3/4 inches). Largeness of head, 15 cent. 2 millim, etc.


ADAM WORTH is a noted receiver of stolen goods, who has been in London for many years. American thieves driven out of this country made it a point to look up Worth and get posted. As a “fence" Worth had accumulated a great deal of money. He was an expert bank burglar in this country before the United States became too hot for him. His first achievement was in 1869, when, with Charles W. Bullard, alias Piano Charlie, and Isaac Marsh as his associates, he plundered the vaults of the Ocean Bank. This robbery netted a large sum of money for the gang, but it was squandered within a year. Their second exploit was the robbery of a messenger of the Merchants’ Union Express Co. on the New York Central Railroad. Bullard and Marsh broke into the express car and gagged the messenger, while Worth and his confederates were on the train to cover the retreat of Bullard, who got off with $100,000. The burglars got off to Canada, and were arrested there, but Worth escaped.

Bullard broke out of the White Plains Jail, where he was confined, and his next operation was to hire a house next to the Boylston Bank in Boston. Worth joined him there, and together they cut through the side wall into the bank vaults and secured cash and securities to the amount of $450,000. They carried the plunder off to Europe, and Bullard opened the “American Bar,” a gambling café in Paris; but after a short career he was arrested and sentenced to a years imprisonment for keeping a gaming house. He returned to New York later and was captured and tried for the Boylston Bank robbery on November 20, 1869, for which he got twenty years. Worth made his home in London, returning occasionally to this country to visit an old sweetheart, and, it is said, that negotiations have been opened with representatives of the Boylston Bank by a lawyer so as to enable Worth to return to his native land. The only time Worth was arrested in New York City was for bloWing open the safe in Stiner's tea store in Vesey Street, several years ago.

Worth, alias Henry J. Raymond, the noted American bank sneak, resident for years in London, was sentenced in the Liege Assize Court at Liege, Belgium, March 21, 1893, to seven years imprisonment for the robbery of 60,000f, committed in Liege, October 5, 1892. Worth has been a member of a notorious band of American thieves, two of the members of which were tried at Liege in 1884 for breaking into the Modera Bank at Verviers. Worth, who was concerned in some of the most daring bank robberies of recent years, passed under various aliases, and was well known to the American police. He spent a considerable time in London, where he lived in extravagant style, and acted as the receiver of an international agency of thieves.

Pic of Worth


The earlier edition of Byrnes' book has pictures of Buck and Porter.

Professional Criminals of America (New York: Cassell, 1886)
by Thomas Byrnes

Pic of Buck

Pic of Porter


A German police bulletin regarding Porter.

Bayer[isches] Central-Polizei-Blatt, No. 81, October 20, 1888, Page 341
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:01 AM
Mayerling Mayerling is offline
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Flushing, New York
Posts: 2,747

Fascinating material. And this is a nice introduction to the head of the Detective police squad in New York City, Chief Inspector Thomas Byrnes. He is the inventor (showed in his book about professional crooks) of the mug shot - those photographs he had taken of all the criminals that he had arrested. This became known as the "Rogues Gallery" and was a big step ahead for police around the globe in recognizing criminals. In fact, Alphonse Bertillion, when he invented his measurement system of identification, included photos of the criminals to his cards of measurements.

Byrnes is a transitional figure in criminal history. His steps forward we approve, but he was corrupt - doing special favors for wealthy Wall Street investors, bankers, and speculators by keeping the criminal element out - and getting many nice stock tips back as a result that made him (when he resigned in 1894/95 after a scandal) a rich man. Byrnes also was willing to use the "3rd degree" (beating up on prisoners) to get confessions. So we would not approve of his methods today thoroughly. But, in the 1890s, he was cutting edge major city police investigator. He died in 1910.

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Old 04-11-2016, 07:56 PM
TradeName TradeName is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 589

The New York Police also had a "museum of crime."

Harper's Magazine, Volume 74, March, 1887, Pages 514-515

The New York Police Department
by Richard Wheatley

The Museum of Crime, opposite the private office of Inspector Byrnes, is a shuddering horror; not so much from what is seen as from what is suggested. Speaking likenesses of shop-lifters, pickpockets, burglars, and eminent “crooks” glare from the walls upon visitors. Sledge-hammers whose heads are filled with lead, drags, drills, sectional jimmies, masks, powder-flasks, etc., that were used in the Manhattan Bank robbery of October 27, 1878, challenge inspection in their glass cases. The rascals made away with $2,749,400 in bonds and securities, and about $15,000 in money, on that occasion; but, thanks to our unequalled detective system, did not retain all their booty. Here are samples of the mechanical skill of Gustave Kindt, alias “French Gus,” a professional burglar and maker of burglars tools, which he let out to impecunious thieves on definite percentages of their robberies. The assortment of burglarious kits, tools, keys, wax impressions, etc., is complete. The genius of Kindt and Klein, so wofully perverted, ought to have made their fortunes in legitimate fields of operation. Nat White's bogus gold brick; Mike Shanahan's eighteen-chambered pistol; counterfeit Reading Railroad scrip; the lithographic stone on which ten or twenty thousand spurious tickets of the elevated railroad were printed; stones for printing fractional currency; bogus railroad bonds used by confidence operators; the black caps and ropes of murderers; the pistols where with various persons were slain; the lock curiosities of Langdon W. Moore, who knew how to open combination locks through studying their emitted sounds; the box in which the same thief, known as “Charley Adams,” put $216,000 in government bonds, stolen from the Concord Bank, Massachusetts, in February, 1866, and which he first buried four feet below the surface of the Delaware River, and then dug up and surrendered when under arrest; the pipes, pea-nut oil, lamps, liquid raw opium, and pills used for smoking in opium joints—-are all here.


This book has a brief description of the museum and a number of illustrations.

Darkness and Daylight; Or, Lights and Shadows of New York Life (Hartford, Conn.: A.D. Worthington, 1892), Pages 525, 659, 660, 662, 663, 664, 665, 666, 667, 668, 669, 671, 683, 685, 694, 695, 696, 735
By Helen Campbell

In the Museum of Crime on the first floor of the Headquarters building may be found photographs of notorious shoplifters, pickpockets, burglars, murderers, and eminent "crooks." Here are sledge-hammers whose heads are filled with lead, drags, drills, jimmies, blow-pipes, jackscrews, sandbags, dark-lanterns, masks, powder-flasks, etc. An interesting exhibit is all the paraphernalia and implements used in the famous Manhattan Bank robbery, when the adroit rascals made away with nearly three million dollars in bonds and securities. Here are samples of the mechanical skill of makers of burglars' tools, showing workmanship of the highest order. Here also is the celebrated bogus gold brick, and the lock curiosities of a man whose ear was so delicately trained that he was enabled to open combination locks of safes through studying their emitted sounds. There are no end of dirks, knives, and pistols, and a good assortment of black caps and ropes of murderers that make one shudder to look upon. Here may also be found all the paraphernalia used for smoking in opium-joints.

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