Jack the Ripper, and his notorious murder spree, have always been favoured exhibits for waxworks and chambers of horrors.
Indeed, no sooner had the Whitechapel murders begun than various entrepreneurs were capitalising on sensationalism that the crimes were generating and waxworks all over London were drawing curious crowds by displaying wax models of the victims, and imagined models of what the perpetrator may have looked like.
WHERE MODEL MURDERERS ARE MADE
On August the 8th, 1896, Pearson’s Weekly, featured an interview with a gentleman who actually made the wax models for the various waxworks around the country in which he, if you will pardon the atrocious pub, waxed lyrical about his most popular lines of murderous models:-
“Nothing takes so well in the penny show line nowadays as wax models of notorious criminals,” said a man who owns a large “property shop” in the Old Kent Road.
“The demand for them is really remarkable, and it is quite as much as I, two girls and three men, can do to turn them out fast enough.
“What do they cost? Well, the price varies a good deal, according to the size of the models and the amount of the hair required, for I must tell you that inserting hair is a very long job, as only two or three hairs at the most can be implanted at one time; but a life-sized model generally runs to £7 or £8. As some of my customers order half-a-dozen at a time, and require new ones for every sensational murder, things are pretty brisk.”
DEEMING THE MOST POPULAR
“The most popular model I ever made was Deeming, the Windsor murderer.
I executed no fewer than fifty-three of him, and charged £10 apiece.
James Reed, the Southend murderer, was, and still is, very popular as a wax model, too.”
THE WHITECHAPEL MURDERS
“While the Whitechapel murders were causing so much sensation, I executed some five or six models of Jack the Ripper, as he was supposed to appear, and these took in the provinces immensely.
LIKENESSES FROM CUTTINGS AGENCIES
“How do I get the likenesses of criminals?
Oh, that’s easy. I have a standing order with one of the newspaper-cutting agencies, who send me all portraits and sketches of criminals directly they are published.
DOESN’T NEED TO BE ACCURATE
A model does not need to be the very image of its prototype to pass fire in the provinces, I can assure you.
I have a customer who, with the aid of a little paint and false hair, made an old and forgotten criminal do for Reed, Vaillant (the anarchist), Balfour, Santo (who assassinated the President of France), and a host of other murderers, and he did a very good business with it.
JACK THE RIPPER AND GLADSTONE
I had occasion to go to Birmingham a little while ago, after the assassination of President Carnot, and while there paid a visit to a customer of mine, who had an exhibition of the assassination which was simply coining money.
I went inside, and to my amusement found an old model of Mr. Gladstone adorned by a flowing moustache, being assassinated by a shabby model of Jack the Ripper.
I nearly died of laughing, I can tell you, but the showman said it took beautifully, and he was clearing £5 a week by it.”