Blue-eyed Boston Crooks

I call them the Boston Crooks, though to be honest I’m not sure where they were arrested, but it might have been Boston. Like half the population of Boston in the late nineteenth century, all except one of them have Irish surnames. The guy in the yellow turtleneck, Paul Lemto, is the exception. The man who arrested Paul, Officer Broderick (another Irishman or the son of one) might have screwed up the spelling of his last name or maybe Paul lied about it. These are crooks so it’s hard to say who was being truthful and who wasn’t.

They were arrested on various dates in 1898 for crimes such as “Flim-Flam,” “B&E,” and “Burglar.” These little carte-de-visites (CDV for short; about the size of a playing card) were made after each man was booked at the police station. The written information on the back of the card (I added it on the front in the color versions) tells a little story about the man and his crime, or possible crime, I should say, since it’s hard to know if he was ever charged much less convicted. But the card was a way for the police to keep track of him, just in case he was arrested again.

I corrected the tonal range and colorized the photos because color adds dimension and depth to the original image. If the police had been able to make a color photo in 1898 they would have because it would have saved them the need to write some descriptive things on the back. Photographers began hand coloring black and white photos from the earliest era of photography, the daguerreotype. Back then they had to paint on the actual photo, but now the color is added digitally and the original photo is not harmed.

To me these CDVs are a rather fascinating little piece of history. They hark back to a long-gone era when men in America, crooked or straight, knew how to rock a derby hat. Who doesn’t love a man in a derby hat, right?

Shout out to photo dealer Jeffrey Kraus for selling these wonderful vintage mugshot CDVs to me.

15 thoughts on “Blue-eyed Boston Crooks

  1. I also think you have done a nice job on the coloring. How much time on average does this process take? I’m sure there are some variables depending on the quality of the original image, but the end result seems well worth whatever the amount of time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi JT! I scanned the small originals at 1200 dpi. The more detail in the original photo the better the end result. These photos had a lot of detail because they were prints from large glass negatives. The paper they were printed on had a wonderful texture. It took 7- 8 hours to complete each of these from start to finish. I had fun every minute of it!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. There’s a definition here of flim flam:

    Nice colouring work. Are you using a blending mode or colouring straight onto the background? And may I make one suggestion? Eye whites are rarely actually ‘white’ they take on a tint from their surroundings, so if you add a slight tint to them – I tend to use a very slight tint from the basic skin colour – that helps. If you use layers, you can add a tint overall. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Actually ‘color’ is the spelling that’s used by the program, so I confuse people more by using both spellings – the American version to refer to the program’s settings and blending modes, and the British version for anything else (colouring). Try using a hue/saturation adjustment layer above the background, set to zero saturation (which changes it to black and white), then above that try using a ‘color’ blending mode for the colourings. Color blend mode retains the original shadows and highlights, soft light removes some of it. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  3. As if I didn’t love head and shoulder shots enough already, here you are taking the WOW to a new level for me. Your colouring skills are so impressive, Shayne. Where do you find the time to do this and research and write! I can’t tell you how long I studied every one of these men. They are all oozing with character and life. 😍

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Photography purists would rather images no one wants, ended up in the bin, than being used for creative endeavours, so they can pull their heads in! (How they could object to manipulation where the original image is untouched is beyond me.)

        PS showed my dad your work and he was blown away by the “emotional impact” of the coloured images.

        Liked by 3 people

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