John Herbert Dillinger (June 22, 1903 – July 22, 1934) was an American gangster in the Great Depression-era United States. He operated with a group of men known as the "Dillinger Gang" or "The Terror Gang" which was accused of robbing 24 banks and four police stations, among other crimes. Dillinger escaped from jail twice. He was also charged with the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana police officer who shot Dillinger in his bullet-resistant vest during a shootout, prompting him to return fire; he was not convicted of this crime. However, it was Dillinger's only homicide charge, despite his infamy.
Note the bullet exit mark below the right eye.
A Dillinger death mask made from an original mold, and eyebrow hair, is on display at the Crime Museum in Washington, D.C.
11″ long x 6-1/2″ wide
Less complete copies of this cast have sold for over $3,000
CHICAGO (STMW) – Chicago businessman Ed Hirschland coveted the face of a gangster.
On Thursday, he got it by buying John Dillinger’s “death mask,” the cast of the infamous bank robber’s face. It was made after Dillinger was gunned down in an FBI ambush outside the Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park in 1934.
Hirschland bought it for $3,000 — plus $660 in fees — at an auction by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, 1338 W. Lake.
“I’m a Chicago aficionado,” said Hirschland, president of the Landhart Corp. consulting firm. “One of the areas that’s so interesting about Chicago is crime. This is such an incredible crime item.”
The mask was created by amateur criminologist Kenneth “Doc” Coffman, who got past Cook County morgue guards and poured plaster on Dillinger’s face to make the cast.
Coffman also created masks of Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd and Lester J. Gillis, widely known as “Baby Face” Nelson. But Coffman’s wife disliked those masks and destroyed them after his 1983 death.
She kept the one of Dillinger, however, figuring it would be worth something someday, said collector Jim Conway. Conway bought the Dillinger mask at an earlier auction in Wisconsin.
Dillinger’s mask was among about 65 items related to Chicago history that were on the block Thursday.
Other items included a first-edition copy of Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Chicago that went for $1,800, rare maps of the city before the Great Fire of 1871, and prints and lithographs of Chicago street-corner scenes.
Among items that didn’t sell were a clipped signature of Al Capone and his monogrammed scarf, which were expected to fetch between $2,000 and $4,000 each.
The mask will join other Chicago historical memorabilia that Hirschland owns. But he probably won’t put it on display. “It’s so creepy,” he said. “It’s more likely to stay in the box.”
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2010.).
We offer a copy of this cast in either plaster or resin.
Ships in a box 7x7x12