The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-05-2000, 09:07 PM
delphica delphica is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
... as in those things that detectives in mysteries from the 1950s are always using to solve crimes.

I just read one where a murder victim's body was identified from the laundry mark on her slip. In another, the killer was identified by the laundry mark in a shirt that he had thrown away (it was all bloody, of course).

What are they exactly? Did they indicate both the laundry service and the customer?

What did they look like, and where on the clothing would they be? The label seems like it would make sense, but labels aren't very big, especially with something like a slip.

And finally, were they ever actually used in identifying people, or is this more of a literary device?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 11-05-2000, 09:31 PM
Billdo Billdo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Delectable City of Gotham
Posts: 4,887
Not surprisingly, a laundry mark is a mark made on clothing to identify it when it is laundered (in a commercial laundry, not in a personal washing machine or laundromat). I bring my dress shirts to be laundered, and will sometimes bring things like tablecloths. The place I currently go does both laundry and dry cleaning, and marks the shirts by small tags stapled through a button-hole.

However, prior to moving to my current apartment, I used a traditional Chinese laundry which focused almost exclusively on cleaning dress shirts. To identify my shirts, they put my initials on the inside of the shirt collars with a laundry marker. When they were done, they would wrap them in brown paper and tie the parcels up with string.

If I were wearing one of those shirts, and the police found me dead on the street without identification, they could see my initials in the neck of my shirt and use the clue to help identify my body.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-05-2000, 10:54 PM
bizerta bizerta is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Sometimes the laundry marks made with pens were made with ultra-violet ink that required a special lamp. Of course the "real" villian would not see the laundry mark because he didn't put the shirt under a UV lamp.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-05-2000, 11:30 PM
CurtC CurtC is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
By the way, the common name for the permanent "Marks-A-Lot" kind of pen is a "laundry marker."

Some of my shirts have my name on the shirt tail, written by some previous cleaner with a laundry marker.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 11-06-2000, 12:00 AM
delphica delphica is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
I guess I'm still confused about how you would go from a dead body with a shirt with a laundry mark, to identifying the person. If my cleaner puts my initials on a shirt, would the police go to every cleaner/laundry service in the city until they found mine? This seems like a huge task. I guess if you have no other clues, you go with what you have, but still ... would my initials be so distinct that my cleaner would recognize them, especially since they most likely have hundreds of other customers? And probably several employees who make the marks, to boot.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 11-06-2000, 02:53 AM
Triskadecamus Triskadecamus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Believe it or not, long ago, Chinese Laundries made Laundry Marks in Chinese. They put them in various places on garments, usually out of sight. The mark was the Chinese Laundry's name for the customer, and usually was a nickname. In a large city, the laundry owner might not know the customer by name, but in many laundries, they would. Most laundries, including Non Chinese laundries, the owners could recognize their own marks. In the case of a well-known customer, that could provide identification.

I am sure the number of fictitious examples is greater than the number of forensic examples.

Tris
__________________
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:50 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.