Raw polaroid images from a Californian prison, 1980s

Back In 2013, ‘Paris Photo’ based in Los Angeles managed to purchase a collection of photographs taken from inside California prisons which depicted gang culture.

The images, which are thought to be dated largely in the 1980s, have also been referenced between the years of 1977 and 1993. The collection was purchased for a staggering fee of $45,000 (£35,000). The seller, a collector named Myles Haselhorst, is said to have paid “a low four-figure sum for the images”. The total amount of photographs is thought to amount to well over 400 single shots. In the space of two years, the collection changed hand several times.

Haselhorst has more than doubled his investment of the collection and the images, having changed hands several times, are now in the hands of Harper’s Books who paid $20,000 (£15,000) for the book and sent it to print.

“Taken between 1977 and 1993. By far the largest vernacular archive of its kind we’ve seen, valuable for the insight it provides into Los Angeles gang, prison, and rap cultures,” their own description reads. “The first photo album contains 96 Polaroid photographs, many of which have been tagged (some in ink, others with the tag etched directly into the emulsion) by a wide swath of Los Angeles gang members. Most of the photos are of prisoners, with the majority of subjects flashing gang signs.”

The second album has 44 photos and images from car magazines appropriated to make endpapers; the ‘frontispiece’ image is of a late 30s-early 40s African-American woman, apparently, the album creator’s mother, captioned ‘Moms No. 1. With a Bullet for All Seasons.”

Here’s a brief look at what is inside the book via Prison Photography:

(All images in this article have been sourced via Prison Photography)

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