Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].
Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].
Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].

Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].

Written by detective and spy Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency—“The Pinkertons”

Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches recounts over 20 true crime stories of burglers, forgers, card tricksters—“Monte-Men,” insurance fraudsters, jail breakers, and swindlers. It was written by Allan Pinkerton (1819–1884), noted Scottish-American private detective and spy. This copy has a presentation inscription from Pinkerton’s son and successor, Robert Allan Pinkerton (1848–1907).

The inscription reads in full: “Comr. Frank Stott, with compliments of Robt. A. Pinkerton.” Francis Horatio “Frank” Stott (1832–1900), the son of a woolen mill owner in Stottsville, Columbia County, New York, was for many years the “Commodore” of the Atlantic Yacht Club of Brooklyn.

After the death of his father, Robert A. Pinkerton and his twin brother, William, became co-directors of their father’s detective agency, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.

In the Preface to his Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches, Allan Pinkerton writes:

Those sketches pertaining to my own career as a detective have been taken at random from the thousands of incidents which have occurred during my detective experience, and are simply a sample of the numberless circumstances daily occurring… They are merely memories of the past, in a criminal sense—of occurrences ripe with thrilling interest in their time, and still full of fascination and attractiveness; and of men, brilliant, talented men, who have lived their unworthy lives of magnificent crime, occupying great stations and high eminences, as these are measured, among the strange and mysterious class to whom we give the generic term of criminals. (pp[vi]–vii)

Allan Pinkerton emigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1842. Moving to Chicago in 1850, he investigated counterfeiting for the U.S. Treasury Department, mail theft at the Chicago post office, and railroad theft, the latter involving an elaborate spy system. At this time, Pinkerton set up a private police force which later became known as the Pinkerton National Detective Agency—popularly called “The Pinkertons.” Pinkerton’s motto, “We Never Sleep,” along with an image of an eye is stamped in gilt on both the upper cover and spine of of the book.

Pinkerton’s spying for the federal government continued during the Civil War. Notably, he foiled an assassination attempt against President-elect Abraham Lincoln. Pinkerton is also noted for his controversial work in infiltrating the secret Irish-American fraternity, The Molly Maguires, and for policing labor strikes. Pinkerton agents also helped to search for and kill such Wild West outlaws as Jesse James and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

According to American National Biography (ANB), “To tap into the popular ‘yellow book’ publications glamorizing the exploits of detectives, and at the same time correct many misrepresentations, [Allan] Pinkerton published sixteen detective books between 1874 and 1884. Some were matter-of-fact ‘true detective stories,’ which retold past cases, while others were not stories at all but descriptions of various crimes and criminals. Like Pinkerton’s detective activities, his literary efforts were a cooperative endeavor—different authors under his supervision put his memories on paper.”

Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches is the third title in Allan Pinkerton’s series, Great Detective Books.

Description: Criminal Reminiscences and Detective Sketches [Autographed by Robert A. Pinkerton].

New York: G.W. Carleton & Co., Publishers, MDCCCLXXX [1880]. Frontispiece, [ i]–iv, [vii]–viii, [9]–324pp. + Illustration plates. Sm. 8vo. Publisher’s illustrated green cloth, stamped in gilt and blind. Inscribed on preliminary leaf by author’s son, Robert A. Pinkerton. Irregularly foliated (i.e. v–vi not in the pagination); collates complete. Mild staining to text block along upper fore-edge and top edge and, primarily, going into the outer margins of a majority of pages; good.


Price: $75.00