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The Finger Print System

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The Finger Print System

Post by Karen on Mon 28 Jun 2010 - 18:06


Lucid Lesson Given Quincy Officials and Newspaper Men Yesterday by J.K. Ferrier, the London Detective - All Conceded it to Be the Coming Method of Identification - Apparatus is Cheap, Method Simple and Infallible - Striking Examples.


Photographs of three different men bearing personal resemblance, Robert Brown, William Brown and Joseph Jenkins. Below are photographs of the right thumb print of each man, from which it will be seen how satisfactorily they differentiate.

The Adams county sheriff and some of his deputies, the city detectives and other police officers, and the representatives of several of the city papers were yesterday afternoon given a practical demonstration of the fingerprint system for the identification of prisoners - or anybody else, for that matter - by J.K. Ferrier, of Scotland Yard, London, who attended and addressed the prison congress here.
Apart from the fascination that a subject such as this would naturally have on the average mind, the novelty of the method, its many evident qualities of commendability, and the practicability of the system for identification purposes in a hundred and one walks of life makes the study of it most interesting to those to whom proper identification is a matter of necessity.

It is the Coming Method.

It was the opinion of all who saw Mr. Ferrier's demonstration yesterday that the finger-print system is, unquestionably, the best yet devised for the purpose. It is a matter imperative not only to prison wardens, detectives, sheriffs and others who are brought in contact with men and women of the criminal classes, but bankers, customs officials, railroads, etc., etc., could adopt the plan with the best possible results. And again, to use Mr. Ferrier's words in his address to the members of the prison congress: "Let me whisper to you in America, gentlemen, that you would find this plan a most excellent one here for the registration of voters."

J. Kenneth Ferrier.

The personality of the man who is representing the British government in this matter at the world's fair, and who was brought to Quincy at the instance of Messrs. T.J. Clark, John S. Cruttenden and Major McClaughry, has much to do with the great interest that has been shown in the subject by the members of the prison congress and the local police. At all times a gentleman, courteous, infallibly good natured, willing to go over the same explanation a dozen times if necessary to make it plain to his audience, and right "up to the scratch" in his work, Mr. Ferrier has done the new system a world of good here and has made a host of friends. He is a "hog for work," as Mr. Phil Holland, of "The Detective," not poetically but forcibly expresses it. He is modest withall and frequently praises his chief, Mr. Henry, who worked out the method of classification.

Why it is a Good System.

Mr. Ferrier took the pains yesterday afternoon to take the prints of everyone in the room - and there were a dozen or more. By doing this he demonstrated one of the many advantages of the system - the rapidity with which the records can be made. Then he showed others how to take the impressions - and thus scored his second point - but which he proved the simplicity of the system. The tools that he worked with were the best evidence of the economy of the finger-print apparatus; this was point No. 3. Mr. Ferrier had with him a diagram of the kind of cabinet in which many thousands of finger prints can be laid away; by a very simple computation and an infallible method, he showed how the person in charge of the record cabinet could pick out the pigeon hole out of many thousands which contained the finger prints needed for comparison; this is done by the classification of the mark's on one's hands.

How Finger Prints are Taken.

Now, suppose Mr. Ferrier is about to take finger prints. His tools consist of a flat brass or glass surface, three inches wide and about two feet long; a little ordinary printer's ink in a lead tube and a roller with which to distribute it on the plate; a sheet of paper which is ruled into sufficient sections to permit of an impression being taken of each thumb and finger and both hands. That's all. He puts the ink on the flat surface, blackens a finger by touching the inked plate, and then presses it onto the ruled sheet in the space assigned for that particular finger. Each finger and thumb of each hand has a special space. It takes but a minute or two to secure the impressions of the corrugations on each digit, and, as was stated, it took Mr. Ferrier but a little while to take over a dozen yesterday afternoon.


The manner of classifying the records so as to by easily accessible is very simple. If you will look at your fingers between the tip and the first joint you will see that the skin is a series of creases. If you will take the impression of this part of your fingers, you will notice that the marks on some form a loop round which are consecutive rings; on others the corrugations, or furrows, or lines - call them what you will - make a whirl, or curve without forming a complete and distinct circle. These "loops" and "whirls" are given a numerical value, according to which finger they are on, and by a calculation which everyone who saw the demonstration yesterday could repeat today. They are laid away in a particular pigeon hole. This is Mr. Henry's method, and it is to him whom Mr. Ferrier gives the credit of making the general adaptability of the finger-print system possible.

Prison Congress Men Like It.

A recent issue of The Journal contained a synopsis of what Mr. Ferrier said before the prison congress on "Finger Marks as a Means of Identification of Criminals." This address interested his entire audience, to whom the question was a vital one, and the manner in which Mr. Ferrier was besieged for information and plied with questions showed how it "took" with his hearers. Many of the wardens told him that they would substitute the plan for the Bertillion measurements, which, they say, is "not in it" with the new plan. So much for the success of Mr. Ferrier's speech here. It was exhaustive of the subject, replete with illustrations and convincing. Space does not permit for the printing of the entire address here; it will be published with and in records of the meetings of this prison congress.

Bertillion System Compared.

Briefly, then, as regards the Bertillion measurement, Mr. Ferrier said that it had been superceded by the finger-print system in every country in Europe except France. He called attention to the fact that the former could be taken by different persons, with a lighter or heavier touch, which would make a change in the measurement sufficient to stamp it as unreliable. Again, a young offender might be measured; these measurements would prove of no avail when he or she came to years of manhood or womanhood.

Used By Chinese for Centuries.

Identification by means of finger prints is not a new science, Mr. Ferrier explained, as the Chinese government passport for centuries has been a government stamped piece of oil paper, on which the transient impressed the tip of his finger. The Celestials discovered long ago that this is an effectual means of preventing the transfer of passports, as the ridges on no two fingers are alike. This knowledge had only been utilized in Europe within the last few years. Dr. Purkenje was the first European to take the matter up, but his treaties did not receive the attention they merited. About 40 years ago Sir William Herschell began to put finger prints into practical use in India; in registering the sale of land many illiterate natives insisted in placing their ink-daubed thumb on the paper. The credit of the discovery of the definite value of finger prints was given by Mr. Ferrier to Prof. Galton.
Continuing, Mr. Ferrier said, in his address:

Finger Prints Always the Same.

"A child is born with its fingers lined in a certain unique way; the fingers grow in size, but throughout boyhood, manhood and maturity the patterns remained unchanged; from infancy to senility, and until long after death the finger prints remain true to their first form; injuries may partially destroy them, but never entirely, and as the injury heals the original lines assert themselves exactly as before.

One Chance in 1,640,000,000.

"I have had access to finger prints, between the taking of which there had been a lapse of 40 years, and they showed no variation. Here, therefore, is nature's own method of identification; no two fingers have ever been found to be alike, and Prof. Galton calculates that the chances are of two finger prints being alike as less than one in 640,000,000, and as we take the ten digits, the chances of two person's finger prints being alike are less than one in 1,640,000,000. Consequently if two finger prints coincide, it is certain that they are the prints of the same finger. Obversely if they differ it is equally certain that the impressions are made by different persons.
"Although it has been known for centuries that finger prints are a reliable means of identification, up to a few years ago no satisfactory way had ever been discovered of classifying them. It was left to Mr. E.R. Henry, chief commissioner of police, "New Scotland Yard," London, to overcome the difficulty; while inspector general of police in India he devised a method of classification, which has

J. KENNETH FERRIER of Scotland Yard.

proved, after a trial of several years, to be absolutely infallible."
Here Mr. Ferrier read a passage from Mr. Henry's book upon the subject.

Many Countries Adopt Mr. Henry's System.

"Mr. Henry's Finger Print System" has been adopted in Great Britain, India and other British colonies and dependencies, Austria, Germany, Japan, Siam and other countries have taken the matter up. New York state prisons have used it successfully for two years. (A finger print bureau forms the half of their excellent exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, and attracts much attention, and creates a deal of interest.)
"The police authorities in a great many of the cities in the United States have decided to adopt "The Finger Print System"; many of them have already done so, including Lowell, St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnatti, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Grand Rapids, San Francisco, Louisville, etc.

The Finger Prints in "Puddenhead Wilson."

"Finger prints play an important role in Mark Twain's "Puddenhead Wilson." (The case rested on the blood stained finger marks, left by the assassin, on the ivory handled knife, and "Puddenhead Wilson" proved, by means of the finger impressions, that the assassin could not have been his client, but by comparing the finger prints left on the knife handle, with his records, he proved that the assassin was the false "Tom Driscoll.")
They play even more important a role in police and criminal life, as it is impossible for a criminal, whose finger prints have once been taken, and filed away at "Scotland Yard," to escape recognition, should he again be in custody and his finger prints taken and sent there.
"The number of identifications at "Scotland Yard" by anthropometric measurements were: In the year 1898, 152; 1899, 243; 1900, 462; 1901, 503.
"In the total for the latter year there are included 93 identifications by finger prints. By the "Finger Print System" the identifications were in the year of 1902, 1,722; in 1903, 3,642, and from Jan. 1 to June 30 of the current year there were 2,335 identifications made.
"As evidenced by these figures, the increase in identifications has kept pace with the growth of the record, and the results obtained appear to fully demonstrate the greater effectiveness of Mr. Henry's "Finger Print System," as a means of establishing recognitions."

A Remarkable Case.

The illustration printed with this article is a most excellent exemplification of the value of the finger print system. Just notice the very marked resemblance of the three men to one another. In fact, not knowing any better, one would say the three pictures were all of one man. They are not. Robert and William Brown are twins. Joseph Jenkins is the double of either. Now, the Bertillion measurements of these three men are so nearly alike that the measurements, with their identical facial resemblance, would and actually has brought about puzzling complications. But notice the right thumb mark of each man at the foot of the picture - it is an object lesson of the manner in which the corrugations on the digits differ.
"Mr. Ferrier has with him records of practical results achieved by the finger print system. Take this clipping, for instance, which is from a copy of the London Daily Telegraph published last month:

"Tracked by Finger Prints."

"By means of finger print clews a very clever arrest has been effected in connection with a recent extensive burglary at the jeweler's shop of Councellor Bickley, Hanley, Staffordshire. The perpetrator of the crime left behind him a very distinct finger print on the plate glass shelf in the window. This was photographed and sent to Scotland Yard, who forwarded a photograph certificate that they were those of a man named Davis, whose impressions had been taken at Wakefield prison. Davis was arrested by the local police on this information. He strongly denied the offense at first, but subsequently made a full confession."
Another one of the many incidents cited by Mr. Ferrier is that where a burglar on entering a window had left the imprints of his hand in the freshly painted window sash. These marks were photographed, the man was identified, arrested and convicted.

Could Have Been Used in Loomiller Case.

If this method had been in vogue here at the time of the Loomiller case, it is more than probable something might have been done. A woman and her child were murdered in their home near Liberty, Ill. They were slashed to pieces with a hatchet - and on the handle of the implement were finger prints in blood. The husband, who was blind, was tried but not convicted.
In parting from his friends Mr. Ferrier had made here he said,"Now, if any of you want further instruction, come to St. Louis and see me. Just mention Quincy, and I will give you all the time I can." The detective spent several hours at police headquarters last night talking with the boys and showing them some useful pointers regarding the handling of prisoners. He was pronounced by the detectives as being "true blue."

Source: The Quincy Daily Journal, October 19, 1904, Page 7

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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Finger Prints Of Henry Johnson

Post by Karen on Mon 28 Jun 2010 - 19:14


Source: The Quincy Daily Journal, April 17, 1906, Page 7

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

Posts : 4907

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