20th December 1920

Old-school pornographer is sentenced to hard labour

A Frenchman based in Jersey was sentenced to a year’s hard labour and banishment from the island for a further five years after pleading guilty to sending obscene postcards through the post. As reported by the Lincolnshire Echo the following day, Joussel had sent the postcards and other indecent literature “to practically every country in the world”.

The story had originated the previous month with a report in The Times that Joussel had been arrested and subsequently charged after police had raided his premises in St Helier. Although the paper doesn’t describe what the obscene material was, it continued that police had seized thousands of the postcards, as well as negatives and printing apparatus.

A multi-national enterprise

“Evidence was given that the defendant was apparently the director of a society which had branches in America, France, Egypt, Syria, Germany, Italy, Morocco, and other places,” The Times revealed in a report of 22 November.

In many ways, Joussel was a forerunner of the online pornographers common today, although his method of producing and distributing his obscene material, which may now seem relatively tame, was more involved and left a significant paper trail, to be used in evidence against him. Alongside the materials and printing equipment, the raid gave police access to the postal orders and money orders he had received from customers keen to get their hands on its output.


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Other events that occured in December