Hangman Albert Pierrepoint's book of executions among collection expected to fetch £25,000 at Boldon Auction Galleries

A notorious hangman’s grizzly book of death is going under the hammer in South Tyneside next month – with a jaw-dropping £25,000 estimate.

By Gareth Crickmer
Saturday, 25 May, 2019, 09:00
The collection will go to a new owner as a result of the auction.

Dark blue and leather-bound, it belonged to Albert Pierrepoint and lists the names of the 434 people Britain’s chief executioner hanged between 1934 and 1956.

They include Ruth Ellis, the last woman to go the scaffold, Derek Bentley, William Joyce, infamous as Nazi propogandist Lord Haw-Haw, and Rillington Place Strangler John Christie.

In Albert's handwriting, the book outlines each prisoner’s name, age, height, weight, site of execution and remarks detailing their physical frame.

It also recommends the precise drop needed to ensure a quick death and lists details of torsos and necks, such as being “very heavy body, ordinary neck, wiry, very thin neck, little flabby”.

Described as “unique”, it will be up for grabs at Boldon Auction Galleries on Wednesday, June 5 – and pockets as deep as the hangman’s drop will be needed to purchase it.

Gallery bosses say there has been substantial interest in the book and a collection of other Pierrepoint-related accessories which are expected to sell together for between £20,000 and £25,000.

These casts will be auctioned as part of the collection.

The items, being auctioned by a South Tyneside collector, also include a cigar holder which belonged to Albert's father, hangman Henry Pierrepoint.

There is also the silver watch chain worn by Albert, his father and Albert’s uncle Tom, who was also a hangman, at hundreds of executions between 1900 and 1956.

Other accessories include a plaster cast of Albert's, face and hands, Henry’s notebook, and photographs and documents.

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Gallery director Giles Hodges said: “These are the most fascinating items I have sold. There’s been a lot of interest.

One of the pages of the book, which is to go under the hammer next month.

“I would describe the kind people who would want to buy these items as belonging to a very niche market.

“From a collectors’ point of view, it’s once in-a-lifetime - I’ve even had an email from someone who knew Albert Pierrepoint.

“It’s like a time capsule of history – once you start delving, you can see details of what crimes they committed and whether or not they were traitors.

“The bottom line is that it was a job and someone had to do it. The notebook is a unique document.”

A plaster cast of Albert Pierrepoint's hands will be auctioned on June 5.

Other items in the auction include the ‘Memorandum of Conditions to which any person acting as Executioner is required to conform’.

There is also a letter of thanks from the War Office referring to the hanging of three men in the Egyptian desert, and a 1945 newspaper article about pro-Nazi British fascist John Amery, who Albert would later hang.

Albert carried out his first execution, that of farmer Patrick McDermott, in Dublin in December 1932 as an assistant to his uncle.