John Thomson

Street Life in London

Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington

1877 - 1888

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First edition of Street Life in London: With Permanent Photographic Illustrations Taken from Life Expressly for this Publication, a pioneering use of photography for sociological study.

  • John Thomson (Scottish) photographer.
  • Adolphe Smith (British) author.
  • Complete with 37 Woodburytype photographs mounted to 36 leaves.
  • London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, [1877-88].
  • [4], 100 pp. 1 vols.
  • 4to.
  • Half blue calf and marbled boards, spine gilt, morocco label.

The Scotsman Thomson (1837-1921) spent the decade 1862-1872 traveling in and producing some of the finest early photographic images of the Far East. After resettling in Britain, he joined forces with Adolphe Smith to produce this "important monthly publication ... which pioneered the genre of photojournalism, combining hard-hitting, albeit posed, street photography, with documentary-style prose." (ODNB) It was originally published in monthly parts. A second, much abridged issue (with only 21 photos) appeared three years later, bound from incomplete remainder sheets.

Subjects include a convicts' home, "Caney" the Clown, Covent Garden flower women, flying dustmen, London cabmen, London nomads, street doctors, seller of shell-fish, street fruit trade and workers on the "silent highway," etc.

Condition Report

Star iconVery Good
Like New

Slight lean.

Some marginal thumbsoiling.

Repaired tear above imprint on title page.

Small blemish to 2 or 3 images, but photos generally fine.


First Edition





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