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Canton, Kwangtung (Guangdong) province, China: street gamblers. Photograph by John Thomson, 1869.

  • Thomson, J. (John), 1837-1921
  • Pictures

Selected images from this work

About this work


Five men, three squatting on a mat gambling, two standing, one with a long plait. Strings of cash and other paraphernalia on the mat. Taken in a make-shift studio with a draped sheet as a backdrop behind the men

In the late 19th century gambling was popular throughout southern China. Government legislation aimed at banning it did not contain the problem; on the contrary it forced gamblers to go underground, and the result was an increase in corruption and crime. Gambling was not confined to gambling houses, for it also took place in clubs and private homes. For the poor labouring class, the streets were a common venue for it



Physical description

1 photograph : glass photonegative, wet collodion


Street gamblers, Canton


This is one of a collection of original glass negatives made by John Thomson. The negatives, made between 1868 and 1872, were purchased from Thomson by Sir Henry Wellcome in 1921

References note

China through the lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872, Beijing: Beijing World Art Museum, 2009, p. (reproduced)

Lettering note

Bears Thomson's negative number: "690"


Wellcome Library no. 19628i


  • English

Where to find it

  • LocationStatusAccess
    Closed stores
    By appointmentManual request


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