Caroline Simpson Collection
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Mug shot of 'Ah Num' and 'Ah Tom', ca 1930, Central Police Station, Sydney.
New South Wales. Police Dept. Drugs Bureau.
glass plate negative : b&w ; 12 x 16.5 cm.
Emulsion Side: Ink: AH NUM / D159; AH TOM / D158, handwritten pencil : Ah Num Ah Tom.
Central Police Station (Sydney, N.S.W.)
police detainees and suspects
men's clothing and accessories
Special Photograph no. D158/D159. The 'D' prefix on the serial number indicates that the photograph was taken on behalf of the Drug Bureau, which in the late 1920s consisted of two men, Detectives Wickham and Thompson. 'Ah Num' and 'Ah Tom', which may be approximate renderings of these men's names, do not turn up in the records of the time, and the expectation that they were to be released may account for their obviously elevated mood.
This picture is one of a series of around 2500 "special photographs" taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1960. These "special photographs" were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of "men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension". Doyle suggests that, compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, "the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed - perhaps invited - to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seems constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen personal style (haircut, clothing, accessories) and physical characteristics."
Peter Doyle with Caleb Williams
City of shadows: Sydney police photographs 1912-1948
Historic Houses Trust, 2005, pp.196, 236.
City of Shadows at the Justice & Police Museum, Sydney, November 2005-January 2007.
Justice & Police Museum ; FP07_0004_020
You may save or print this image for research and study. If you wish to use it for any other purposes, you must contact
Museums of History NSW
to request permission.
Mug shot of Fay Watson, 24 March 1928, Central Police Station, Sydney.
Mug shot of Hazel McGuinness, Central Police Station, Sydney, 26 July 1929
Mug shot of Ah Chong, 11 July 1928, Central Police Station, Sydney.
Mug shot of Eileen May Burt, 3 January 1924, Central Police Station, Sydney.
Mug shot of Nancy Cowman, 21 February 1924, probably Central Police Station, Sydney.
Mug shot of Henry Reid, 7 January 1930, Central Police Station, Sydney.
Mug shot of De Gracy (sic) and Edward Dalton. Details unknown. Central Police Station, Sydney, around 1920.
Mug shot of Sidney Kelly, 25 June 1924, Central Police Station, Sydney.
Mug shot of Harris Hunter, 17 September 1924, Central Police Station, Sydney.
Mug shot of William Munro, 17 September 1924, Central Police Station, Sydney.