les-apaches

The Thorn Punch

All the weapons used by the Apaches in Paris are unique, but none are more ingenious than these curious rings and the device known as the “thorn punch”. The latter, held as shown in the illustration and delivered with a hard, straight blow, would drop a man as if hit by a sledge. The rings, however, are more subtle, as they appear to be nothing more than ordinary finger adornments with the exaggerated settings or heads often worn by fad extremists, but hidden within the hand is an extension. This rests against the palm when the fist is doubled and adds much force to the blow.

~ Popular Mechanics, June 1911

Previously on Criminal Wisdom:
The Trick Of Father Francois
The Apache Revolver

See also:
The Lost Golden Age of Mixed Martial Arts - Part III: Sherlock Holmes, Les Apaches, and the Gentlemanly Art of Self Defence.

Title page of Le Petit Journal (20 October 1907) “The Apache is the sore of Paris. More than 30,000 prowlers against 8,000 city policemen.”
Les Apaches (French: [a.paʃ]) were members of a Parisian Belle Époque underworld subculture. Apaches were so called because their alleged savagery was compared with that attributed by Europeans to the Native American tribes of Apaches.

The Apache Revolver

The Apache Revolver is the Swiss Army knife of guns. Designed in the early 1900’s by the french gang Les Apaches this weapon was easily concealed and it is said that one bullet would always be left out of the chamber so as to not shoot yourself while it was in your pocket. Its range was very limited due to its lack of a barrel but it was an effective tool due to everything it could do, this weapon could shoot, cut and hit and could be easily folded up and placed in your pocket. Sheer Genius.”
~ Brotherhood Of Thieves

THE TRICK OF FATHER FRANCOIS
The “Coup de Pere Francois” ( or “The Shot Of Father Francis”) was a form of robbery performed by street thugs in Paris in the early 1900’s. Two thieves would approach the mark, one engaging the target while the other slipped behind him. Correctly positioned, the second thug would throw a silk handkerchief over the target’s head and immediately pivot so the two would now be back to back. Then, holding the two ends of the handkerchief at the height of his shoulders, the thug would bend forward essentially garroting the unsuspecting citizen.

“The more the thug bent forward the more he pulled his victim backward-backward on the thug’s back, sprawling there as in a barber’s chair, with his feet off the ground and his arms tossing aimlessly-a quick case of spinal curvature. Reclining helplessly on the thug’s back, lifted bodily form the sidewalk, with all the blood of his body throbbing in his cranium, he felt the other robber going calmly through his pockets. He remembers that the rogue in front then pulled his arms out straight with one hand; and then he lost consciousness. When he came to he was lying in the shadow of some bushes with a strained neck, but not otherwise damaged. ”

from National Police Gazette, October 21, 1905, p. 3
Via The Journal Of Manly Arts

Mister Freedom & Sugar Cane take on Les Apaches

Mister Freedom has never failed to provide amazing clothing that is both timely and timeless. The Spring 2011 collaboration with Japanese brand Sugar Cane departs from the usual Americana and dives instead into the dangerous alleys of 1900’s Paris. From Mister Freedom’s website: “The Paris of the Belle Époque (1900s) saw the emergence of a certain type of street outcasts. They lived in secret dens in the seedy and dimmed outskirts of the City of Lights, abhorred honest labor, hunted the Faubourgs and Quartier de Halles, and danced in local Guinguettes and dives, decked out in flamboyant outfits.

They were called Les Apaches… Issued from the French lower working class, with a lack of education and absence of Future, they regrouped in loosely organized neighborhood gangs. Abiding by their own hoodlum code of honor, they woke up late, spoke the obscure slang Jare, and wore specific flashy clothes. Their dandy accoutrement combined with intimidating attitudes imposed both respect and fear from the Parisians and their police.

For 30 years, Paris’ Apaches gangs marked their territories by terrorizing honest bourgeois citizens, committing petty larceny, pimping and street fighting their lives away. For those who had ducked the knife and the bullet that bared their name or the ravage of the “Grande Guerre” (WW1), it was the inevitable outcome of Biribi or the Bagne de Cayenne.

In the 1920’s many a high society dame was spotted mingling with charismatic Apache groups in local Java dance halls, letting her hair down in a famous Dance Apache, immortalized later by Hollywood (“Charlie Chan in Paris”, 1935) and several Broadway Shows. The French movie Casque d’Or (1953) relates a true story of a famous Apache event that took place in 1905. Bourgeois newspapers of the period and universal fascination with the underworld turned the reign of the Apaches into a mix of myth and imagery that will forever mark the Paris of the 1900s to 1930s… These are the premises and backdrop of the MISTER FREEDOM® x SUGAR CANE Spring 2011 Collection. Influenced by early French haberdashery and work clothes, European tailoring and Old World silhouettes, this new venture is a departure from the “Americana” inspiration of previous seasons. After extensive research and development we turned a corner onto an unfamiliar avenue (Rue de la Grande Truanderie?) to offer this new look of the Old World…

The collection includes: * Fancy shirting in printed calico fabrics, cotton jacquard, indigo “Métis” (cotton/linen weave) and pastel color dyed cotton pique. * French workman outfits in cotton/linen indigo “Métis” twill and indigo ticking. * Fancy city clothes in intricately woven stripe cotton fabrics.” Mister Freedom