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Vintage Photos of People Faking Death

I’ve been addicted to crime stories for most of my life. As a little girl, it was Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. I would read People Magazine’s centrefold crime stories in every lobby. I moved on to adult crime fiction in my teens, and because my parents had disconnected our cable when I was 11, I voraciously read entire murder mystery series, relishing in stories of depraved human behaviour. Once “true crime” became a thing, I dove into podcasts and Netflix series and to this day, I love to cook my family dinner while listening to grisly, tragic tales of serial killers evading the law and piling up bodies.

But the forms my fascination with the morbid took in the 80s, 90s, 00s to today were just modern versions of our morbid imaginations in the 1890s, 1900s, and 1910s. Since public execution was for the especially strong of stomach and didn’t happen often enough, people had to create their own imaginative depictions of violence. Today I’m sharing a gallery of carefully-staged and entertaining photos from a century ago, where people pretended to murder, humiliate, or otherwise hurt each other for a fun family keepsake. Considering how many photos we take these days, it’s pretty rare to see pics of friends pretending to slit each others’ throats on social media. But now that I think about it, I actually do have a photo of me pretending to disembowel my little brother with a sword.

All of these photos were collected by Robert E. Jackson, owner of over 15,000 vintage snapshots.

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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