Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Snatches Buttons, Motive Unclear

Newspaper clipping from December 1895
The police were able to
button this case up. Sorry.
Were buttons valuable in 1895? A New York policeman apprehended a young man on December 7, 1895, on the suspicion that he was engaging in pickpocketing. Officer Klan found that Antonio Volpe had been snatching buttons off women's coats. The policeman thought he was dealing with a pickpocket, then he saw Volpe pull a button off a woman's coat.

He had been industrious, since he had forty buttons (not stolen, according to Volpe) on his person after throwing a "handful" of buttons into the street.

He might be the same Anthony Volpe who shows up in the 1905 New York Census. This seems likely, because in 1895 he's living on Prince Street. The Anthony Volpe on the census lives only a few blocks away on a street that crosses Prince Street.

One other thing: at 18, Antonio Volpe is snatching the buttons off women's coats. Ten years later, Anthony Volpe is working a tailor. Maybe he was trying to drum up business. Or make sure that an employer had a ready supply of women's coat buttons. If both items reference the same person, let's hope he made amends. Maybe by not charging women whose buttons had been ripped off their coats.
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