I am researching John Thomson’s time in the Pearl River Delta region of China (namely Hong Kong and Canton) as part of a doctoral thesis at SOAS, University of London. I am particularly interested in any prints and carte-des-visites that he made in this region in the period 1868-1872. I would also love o speak to anyone who has carte-des-visites made by other photographers in Hong Kong at around this same time. I can be contacted through this website or at the email address (thecheungstudio@gmail.com). Thank you!

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  • Hi Angela - hope your research came to fruition - I would just like to make a quick comment on other John Thomsons. There was an Edinburgh photographer John Thomson who was in partnership with Horatio Ross. And there was a John Thomson of Roslin (near Edinburgh) who was a photographer in addition to being the warden of Rosslyn Chapel. He took views of the chapel for GW Wilson. I have seen all three mixed up and it would be nice if someone provided some clarity on them all. 

  • Dear Angela,

    If you have not found what you are looking for from all the responses thus far, contact me with further details on your project (ken@jacobsonphoto.com) and I might be able to help.


    Ken Jacobson

  • As others have noted, I think v few of his cdvs survive. His glass plate negatives at the Wellcome Library are wonderful. He tried to sell them to the Royal Geographical Society shortly before he died but, of course, they didn't have the cash and I'm not sure they ever fully appreciated his talents or commitment to Geography.  It's encouraging to see just how many people are still working on him.  Good luck with your research: what's the title of your thesis?  best wishes James  j.ryan@vam.ac.uk

  • For some approx contemporaneous cartes de visite by other HK photographers, see Historical Photographs of China - PUN LUN: https://www.hpcbristol.net/photographer/pun-lun.  Jamie Carstairs (HPC project manager) jamie.carstairs@bristol.ac.uk

  • I can assist you with Thomson cdvs  I will write to your email.  regards Gael

  • You may wish to contact Deborah Ireland, a former RPS Collection curator, who is also working on Thomson. Contact me off list. 

  • I am still working on John Thomson's activities in China and Taiwan. I work and collaborate with a French colleague, René Vienet who is a fluent Chinese writer and academic. I am quite sure that you know the Wellcome Trust Collection of his glasses plate negatives. Fuji Art Museum, Tokyo purchased material that Stephen White purchased from his descendants. Very few of his carte-de-visites survive. I take it that you know all of his publications in which his images were 're-mediated' towards the end of the 19th century into carbon, collotype and photomechanical media - that is in addition to his writings accompanied by his images as woodcuts, wood-engravings and copperplate interpretations. 



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