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The Lotteries Of Old London

December 26, 2014
by the gentle author

On Boxing Day, traditionally the occasion for sport and gambling, it is my pleasure to publish this selection of lottery handbills from John Ashton’s ‘History of English Lotteries’ published by the Leadenhall Press in 1893 –  just in case any of my readers fancy a flutter…

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. Chris mills permalink
    December 26, 2014

    Business as usual in the City of London.

  2. Melvyn Brooks permalink
    December 26, 2014

    Thanks for this laugh. I wonder how much money was sacrificed on these delusions? Is there any evidence that anyone ever won a prize? The scam reminds me of those carried out by Horatio Bottomley in the second and third decades of the Twentieth Century.

    I take this opportunity of wishing TGA and all those who help in the production of these wonderful weekly stories that I enjoy in far away Israel, a happy and peaceful coming year. And of course the same greetings to all the regular readers. I feel I am a member of a club of Worldwide admirers of Spitalfields Life.

    Best wishes to all

    Melvyn Karkur, Israel

  3. Victoria permalink
    December 26, 2014

    Fascinating posters, didn’t know these lotteries used to take place. Curious to see the term ‘State Lottery’ on some of them, not a familiar term for England sounds more American or continental.

  4. December 26, 2014

    Surprising and fascinating graphic design from the past!

    Love & Peace & Merry Christmas
    ACHIM

  5. Peter Holford permalink
    December 26, 2014

    It’s not surprising that lotteries were made illegal. The sums of money on these ads are extraordinary. £25,000 in 1806 is the equivalent of about £20 million now. The total prize money of £250,000 is therefore equivalent to £200 million. I think it’s safe to say that there is some false accounting here. Those skills have been perpetuated for another 200 years in certain London institutions!

  6. Bronchitikat permalink
    December 26, 2014

    Which all goes to show that money can be made, reliably, from gambling. Provided you are the ‘House’, or the ones running the Lottery!

  7. December 26, 2014

    I especially love the rebus. It’s so mysterious (to me at least).

  8. Ellen in NEW England permalink
    December 27, 2014

    Lotteries are a tax on people who are bad at math.

    The organizers of the first English lottery in 1569 were also bad at math. One ticket cost 20s, which was about a week’s wages for a professional man. And then they gave EVERYone a prize, and the drawing took weeks and weeks … they must have lost money hand over fist!

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