Original plaster cast from the Coffman negative, the first death mask made from John Dillinger's body, this being the only cast produced from that negative. After the body of John Dillinger was taken to the Cook County morgue on July 22, 1934, at least four "death masks" were created. The first, and perhaps the crudest, was made by Kenneth "Doc" Coffman, who, having obtained permission from authorities, poured plaster directly onto Dillinger's face creating a deep impression. Having prepared the face with vaseline and oil the plaster dried in about five minutes and came right off. Coffman immediately poured plaster into the impression to create a negative, a process which, unfortunately, destroyed the first casting. The present cast is the original negative created by Coffman at the Cook County morgue. No other casts were created from Coffman's negative. The cast remained in the possession of Kenneth Coffman until his death in 1983, when it was subsequently auctioned off by his widow, Mariette Van Den Steene-Coffman and purchased by the present owner. The present item, which has been featured in various media, is accompanied by the original receipt of purchase, a photograph of Coffman with the mask, newsclippings, FBI xeroxes and a typed summary of the history of the death masks from William J. Helmer, author of December 1, 1994.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers