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GRANNAN, Joseph C.

Grannan's Pocket Gallery of Noted Criminals of the Present Day,

containing portraits of noted and dangerous criminals, pickpockets, burglars, bank sneaks, safe blowers, confidence men, and all-around thieves. [With:] original nickel-plated Grannan Detective Bureau Co. badge.

Cincinnati, OH: Grannan Detective Bureau; Press of Sixth Street Printing Works, 1892; Stock Code: 120206
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"No Detective … will think of being without it"

Rare fourth edition of this terrific and highly evocative mug shot book, an online search of institutional libraries showing one copy only, at Public Library of Cincinnati, all early iterations being very scarce. This copy is paired with an attractive exemplar of the handsome official badge issued to detectives and stamped on verso "This Badge is Not Sold to Anyone".

Originally published in 1889, this edition was substantially expanded from the previous printings which comprised fewer than 100 pages and 80 likenesses. A physical description of each criminal is given, often including telling detail, for example, the "all-round crook" George Wagner, alias One-Arm George, is described thus, "born in Germany; painter; left arm off; Egyptian dancing girl on right forearm; scar on right forearm and wrist; dimple in chin". Prior to the fingerprint system developed by Francis Galton around 1892, this pocket gallery would have provided an invaluable tool for American private detectives and law officers. The portraits themselves, taken from photographs, are really quite superb, necessarily finely detailed but surprisingly subtle in catching expression. With some justification Grannan puffs this aspect of his book in his introduction: "no pains or expense has been spared in the engraving, which has all been done by one artist, under the immediate supervision of Mr. H. W. Weisbrodt, who has no superior as a portrait engraver in the country".

This edition includes such notorious criminals as the Mafioso Enrico Basante, a "dangerous and successful swindler" with a long record, who was on the lam from extorting Italian grocers in St. Louis. He was arrested by Cincinnati Police Detective John Schnucks in a local saloon in September 1892 while trying to threaten a local Covington saloon-keeper named Tony Calia. In addition, there is a section on Lou Ludlum, Red Adams, Little Lou, Pretty Billy, and others in the gang which operated under Big Mike McDonald, the underworld boss of Chicago, who controlled much of the gambling and prostitution in Illinois and Ohio, as well as most of the city officials and police forces in Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and many other cities. The women included in the gallery encompass shoplifters, bank robbers, and pickpockets, while African-Americans are merely "common" criminals and burglars.

The Grannan Detective Bureau operated over most of the Midwest from around 1883, its name appearing in Cincinnati city directories until 1905. Founder Joseph C. Grannan (1832-1905) was a Civil War veteran who had served as an officer with several cavalry units. During this time he had a brush with the military authorities, charged with "being too familiar with the enlisted men, having gone with some of them to a house of ill repute in Cincinnati. Grannan acknowledged the visit but said it was before he had received his commission. The board recommended that he be discharged" (Thomas P. Lowry, Sexual Misbehavior in the Civil War, 2006, p. 91). Post-war he became a Cincinnati policeman, before setting up his bureau.

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Together, 2 items: book and badge. Book duodecimo. Original dark blue moiré-effect cloth, blind foliate bands to covers, speckled edges, pale yellow endpapers. Badge, c.1900, with engraved zigzag stitch effect to border, stamped on verso "This Badge is Not Sold to Anyone".


230 wood-engraved portraits.


Binding a little rubbed, old pale stain at foot of spine, a little foxing to top edge, still a very good copy. Badge a little clumsily repaired at later date with soldered safety pin as a fastener, but this remains a very good example.


See Greg Hand, "In the 1890s Cincinnati Had a Mafia Scare", Cincinnati Magazine, Sept. 30, 2015; Jay Nash, The Great Pictorial History of World Crime, Vol. 2, pp. 389-391.


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