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Birger's Last Stand
[The execution of mobster Charlie Birger]
Real photo postcard
3 1/2 x 5 1/2 ins
Swann Galleries - New York
Courtesy of Swann Galleries (Auction, The Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part 1, Sept 15, 2011, #2253, Lot 129)
Lot note provided by Swanns.
Charles Birger (1881-1928) was a Jewish immigrant to the United States who came to prominence as a bootlegger and speakeasy operator in southern Illinois during Prohibition. He was responsible for several killings, including hits on Ku Klux Klan members who styled themselves as extralegal Prohibition enforcers. He was hung on 19 April 1928. This set of views is numbered in reverse order, each labeled "Birger's Last Stand," and lacking only #2. He is shown being led to the gallows, cheerfully shaking hands with the hangman, smiling as the noose is prepared, and finally with a black hood over his head as the noose is tightened. His rabbi is visible in all four images. This was the last public execution in Illinois.