The True Story Behind The Talking Labels On 19 Crimes Wine Bottles

Editor’s Note: 19 Crimes informed us after publication that all of their bottle’s labels react to the Augmented Reality app, making six interactive labels in total. 

A viral video of the 19 Crimes Augmented Reality wine labels have many wondering the story behind the labels

  • The wine labels uses the 19 Crimes Augmented Reality app that brings the “criminals” on the labels to life

  • Between 1760 and 1820 there were crimes that could get you transported to Australia from Britain

  • The three men on the 19 Crimes bottles were involved in a prison break from Australia in 1876

A viral video has social media users fascinated by a wine company who’s product speaks for itself. Literally, this wine speaks for itself.

With the help of an Augmented Reality app, the Australian wine brand “19 Crimes” has given three of their bottles life. When you hover your mobile device in front of the labels, the criminals-turned-colonists share their stories.

On November 13, Barbie Prinster posted a picture and a video of the wine bottles telling their stories on her Facebook. Prinster’s video of the three labels has been viewed over 700,000 times and counting.

19 Crimes

The 19 Crimes logo is based off a list of crimes that could get you transported from Britain to Australia roughly between 1760 and 1820. The three criminals that react to AR are John Boyle O’Reilly, Michael Harrington, and James Wilson. However, an article on Cheers shows that Harrington once at one point Jane Castings and Facebook posts from 19 Crimes Facebook shows the Castings label still exists as of a month ago.

In reality, there were around 200 crimes that you could get you transported to Australia. The 19 Crimes the wine is based on was tweeted out by The Morrissey House‏.

John Boyle O’Reilly

In 1867, O’Reilly was one of 61 other Fenian prisoners and 218 common criminals placed on a convict ship and transported to the British colony of Western Australia. During the voyage, O’Reilly and another prisoner John Flood established a handwritten newspaper called The Wild Goose. The Wild Goose published poetry and stories from the members of the ship’s convict fraternity.

The convicts arrived at Fremantle on January 9, 1868. O’Reilly was placed in the Convict Establishment, but only a month later was transferred to Bunbury.

Once at Bunbury, O’Reilly quickly formed a good relationship with his warder Henry Woodman. O’Reilly became a regular visitor at the Woodman residence, which led to him becoming romantically involved with his warder’s daughter Jessie.

Attempted Suicide

Jessie broke O’Reilly’s heart, causing him to write agony riddled poetry with hints of romance. On December 27, 1968, O’Reilly attempted suicide by cutting his left wrist. O’Reilly eventually passed out from a loss of blood but was later saved when another prisoner discovered him.

It was said that Jessie was pregnant with O’Reilly’s child, which was believed to be a factor in the attempted suicide. Most reports claim Jessie had the child, but newborn passed away either during, or shortly after birth. Woodman eventually found out about the relationship and married Jessie off to 22-year old George Pickersgill in March 1869.

Father Patrick McCabe

O’Reilly also formed a strong bond with a Roman Catholic priest by the name of Father Patrick McCabe. McCabe told O’Reilly towards the end of 1868 that he would help him escape the colony. On February 18, 1869, O’Reilly abandoned his work crew and met James Maguire, a settler from the town of Dardanup.

Maguire and O’Reilly rode to the Collie River where a rowboat was waiting. The two men rowed out of the Leschenault Inlet into the Indian Ocean and went north along the coast. O’Reilly hid in the dunes, waiting for the American whaler, the “Vigilant.” McCabe arranged for the Vigilant to take O’Reilly onboard, but at the last minute the captain backed out of the deal and left the men in the rowboat.

The men paddled back to shore and continued to wait as friends tried to find a ship that would agree to pick the men up. Two weeks later, an American whaler, the “Gazelle,” agreed to pick the men up. With O’Reilly was another convict named Martin Bowman. Bowman caught wind of the escape and blackmailed the people involved to let him go with O’Reilly.

Michael Harrington And James Wilson

In 1874, John Devoy received a letter from Wilson that read, “Remember this is a voice from the tomb.” According to the Smithsonian, Devoy was a “former senior leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, known as the Fenians.”

Devoy, recruited thousands of Irish-born soldiers and strategically placed them in British regiments in Ireland, in hopes of turning the British army against itself. By 1866, estimates put the number of Fenian recruits at 80,000—but informers alerted the British of an impending rebellion. Devoy was exposed, convicted of treason and sentenced to 15 years’ labor.

After serving five years of his sentence, Devoy was exiled to America. Devoy became a journalist for the New York Herald and became active with clan na gael, a secret society of Fenians in America. Wilson’s letter reminded him of his brothers left behind in prison.

D For Deserter

Wilson was one of seven high-profile Irish republican prisoners who was sentenced to death for treason until Queen Victoria decided instead to transport the convicts to a life of hard labor at Convict Establishment. The men’s chests were branded with the letter “D” for “deserter.” They were forced to build roads and quarry limestone in relentless heat.

Most of us are beginning to show symptom of disease. In fact, we can’t expect to hold out much longer.

Around the same time that Devoy received Wilson’s letter, O’Reilly was feeling guilty about leaving his Fenian brothers in their Australian prison to rot. O’Reilly began urging Devoy to gather the clan na gael to rescue their brothers.

The plea from O’Reilly was all it took for Devoy to take action. O’Reilly, who escaped from his prison, had already proved to the men that escape is possible. “Most of the evidence on which the men were convicted related to meetings with me. I felt that I, more than any other man then living, ought to do my utmost for these Fenian soldiers, Devoy wrote. 

Devoy read Wilson’s letter at a clan na gael meeting in New York. Thousands of dollars were pooled together to execute a rescue mission. The original plan was to take a charter boat to Australia, at which point over a dozen armed men would break the Fenians out of prison. Devoy later decided that a stealth rescue would be more advisable than a brute force attack.

We think if you forsake us, then we are friendless indeed.

George Smith Anthony

George Smith Anthony was a Protestant sea captain with whaling experience. After weighing out the evidence, Anthony agreed that the Fenians were not criminals. Devoy had Anthony set sail on the whaler “Catalpa,” his crew were told they were on a routine whaling voyage.

Devoy instructed Anthony to not tell his crew about the rescue to ensure the British would not learn of their plan. Plus, the men needed to return with a full load of whale to try and recoup some of the cost of the prison break, which totaled roughly $30,000. A member of the clan na gael took out a mortgage on his house to ensure the escape was covered.

John James Breslin, a Fenian secret agent, was Devoy’s person on the ground in Australia. Breslin was told to arrive in Fremantle just before the Catalpa to act as an American millionaire named James Collins and learn what he could about the Convict Establishment. Breslin noted the unforgiving environment. To the east was a neverending view of desert and stone and to the west was shark-infested water. Given the harsh environment, security was lax at the Establishment.

Under the guise of looking for investment opportunities, Breslin arranged several visits to the Establishment. Breslin askes questions about hiring cheap prison security. On one visit he managed to sneak a message to the Fenians telling them a rescue was in the works and to avoid any trouble or solitary confinement so they would not miss their only chance to escape.

April 16, 1876

Nine months later, the Catalpa arrived in Bunbury allowing Breslin and Anthony to form a plan. The Fenians they were rescuing were constantly given different assignments and for Breslin’s plan to work all the men needed to be outside of the prison walls. On Sunday, April 15, 1876, Breslin got a message into the Fenians saying the escape would happen the following morning.

On Monday morning, April 16, 1876, the Catalpa sat miles outside of Australian waters. Twenty miles up the road from the prison a rowboat waited for the men. Breslin would get the men to the rowboat; then the crew would row to the Catalpa. Two Irishmen men that arrived in Fremantle to help were instructed to cut the telegraph from Fremantle to Perth, which they accomplished.

Breslin did not know which prisoners, if any, he would find outside of the Establishment. To his surprise, Breslin saw Thomas Darragh unsupervised digging potatoes, and Martin Hogan painting a superintendent’s house. Thomas Hassett and Robert Cranston managed to talk their way outside, and Harrington and Wilson lied and said they were working at the warden’s house.

The Fenian prisoners made their way towards Breslin, who put the men in carriages. It was then a twenty-mile ride to the rowboat. The guards were aware of that the Irishmen escaped within an hour of their escape.


The men had to row for hours to get to the ship. When they were only about a half-mile offshore, Breslin saw police arriving with trackers. The Royal Navy commandeered a cutter and a steamer from the Coast Guard to intercept the rowboat before it reached the Catalpa. As the men rowed, Breslin pulled a letter from his pocket that he had mailed to the British Governor of Western Australia.

This is to certify that I have this day released from the clemency of Her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, etc., etc., six Irishmen, condemned to imprisonment for life by the enlightened and magnanimous government of Great Britain for having been guilty of the atrocious and unpardonable crimes known to the unenlightened portion of mankind as “love of country” and “hatred of tyranny;” for this act of “Irish assurance” my birth and blood being my full and sufficient warrant. Allow me to add that in taking my leave now, I’ve only to say a few cells I’ve emptied; I’ve the honor and pleasure to bid yon good-day, from all future acquaintance, excuse me, I pray.

In the service of my country,
John J. Breslin


The next morning, Brittish Steamer, the “Georgette,” went straight to the Catalpa. The Georgette’s captain asked if he could come aboard the whaler, but was denied. The Georgette was running low on fuel and forced to go back to shore, that was when Anthony saw their chance. The Fenians dashed towards the Catalpa.

The Fenians barely beat the British to the Catalpa and the shipped turned away from Australia. However, there was no wind to push the ship, and by morning the Georgette, armed with a 12-pound cannon, managed to pull alongside the ship. It was during this stand that the Georgette was teetering on the brink of being in Australian waters. Breslin reminded the captain that if he were to fire, he would be firing upon an American ship in International waters.

The Georgette followed the Catalpa for another hour or so, but the British were reluctant to fire upon the ship. The Georgette inevitably turned around, and the Fenians were free men.






About Meko Haze

Meko Haze is an independent journalist by day... and an independent journalist by night.

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