History: 1889 Guillotine Construction Drawings


In 2008 I travelled to the French town of St Pierre located on an island in the North Atlantic, 30 miles off the southern coast of Newfoundland, Canada. I went there to examine the only real guillotine in North America (at least to my knowledge) the so-called "Veuve de Saint Pierre"

Thanks to the very cooperative Museum management I was allowed unlimited access to the machine and I spent three days photographing, measuring and taking notes in order to capture every detail of the design. The guillotine is a "Berger" model built in 1889 along with five other guillotines for the French colonies & territories. It came to St Pierre in 1890, a year after the execution of Auguste Neel, and was never used.

When comparing my photos of this machine to the one used by Anatole Deibler between 1909 and 1939 (Photographed extensively in 1907) I cannot find any visible differences so I believe the two machines are identical. The machine was stored between 1889 and 1981, never used and probably never even assembled during that time, because there was no executioner residing in Saint Pierre. Therefore the machine is probably in "mint" original condition, contrary to other Berger guillotines which may have been modified and/or repaired over the years.

Read more >