Book of death belonging to hangman Albert Pierrepoint fetches five-figure sum at auction

A grizzly book belonging to the last hangman in Britain has gone under the hammer for at a South Tyneside auction house.

Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 2:01 pm
The Albert Pierrepoint collection on auction

Boldon Auction Galleries often have some strange items for sale, but nothing could be more macabre as the collection which was up for grabs today.

At a full auction house, people were bidding on a collection of items belonging to Albert Pierrepoint. Included in the lot was a handwritten book, collection of photographs, silver watch chain, cigar holder, and a plaster cast of Pierrepoints face and hands.

Albert Pierrepoint book, details personal information of hanged people

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Closely watched by the ITV film crew of Dickinson’s Real Deal, the final bid reached an impressive £20,000.

The last hangman in Britain, Albert Pierrepoint, is thought to have hanged more than 600 people over a 25 year period. From murderers to war criminals, Pierrepoint kept detailed notes on the physical descriptions of the hanged people. The dark blue leather bound book included details such as their height, weight, neck size, and length of drop needed to complete the job quickly. 

Pierrepoint started his career at an early age. Following in the footsteps of his father, Henry Pierrepoint, Albert went on to hang some high-profile murderers. These included:

Gordon Cummins (The Blackout Killer) in 1942. A RAF serviceman who used the cover of darkness during a blackout to murder his victims. John Haigh (Acid Bath Murderer) in 1949. Disposed of his victims in a bath full of sulphuric acid. Ruth Ellis in 1955. The last female to be hanged in Britian.

Boldon Auction House Director, Giles Hodges with Albert Pierrepoint collection

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

There collection also included 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 Pierrepoint would later hang.