Atrocious Viciousness

Alvin 2

In January of 1889, Anthony Comstock arrested actor Charles L. Davis, better known as his character “Alvin Joslin,” for possession of a picture album imported from France. Comstock characterized the pictures as “atrocious portraits of viciousness.” The Illustrated Police News noted, “The pictures were in his trunk. They numbered eighty-four and most of them were abominably vile… One group, in which the characters were dressed as monks and nuns, were even worse than those seized some time ago in the apartments of Le Grange Browne, on Hicks Street, Brooklyn. (1)”

Comstock was tipped off by one Frederick Myersohn who said Comstock would find the album locked in Davis’s traveling trunk at the Morton House on Broadway. David pointed out that Myersohn had informed on him for revenge after he had Myersohn arrested for theft. Probably true, but Davis was fined $100 anyway.

Alvin 1

(1) In September of 1888, local police, “at the instance of Anthony Comstock,” arrested Le Grange Brown, a young photographer, in his room at his parents’ house. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported “They also captured 520 photographs and 239 negatives which went into the possession of Anthony Comstock after being used against the prisoner.” Before his case came to trial, Browne skipped bail and fled to Canada, where he died in October, 1889, at the age of 29.


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