University of Chicago Library

Guide to the British Lottery Handbills circa1806-1826

© 2015 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


British Lottery Handbills


circa 1806-1826


0.5 linear feet (1 box)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


The collection contains handbill advertising lotteries held in Great Britain from 1806 to 1826.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.

Digital Images

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When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: British Lottery Handbills, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Historical Note

State lotteries were used in 18th and early 19th century Britain to raise the capital for a variety of state projects. In this capacity, early state lotteries essentially functioned as loans to the government and prior to 1796 every ticket was guaranteed some return.

Initially, state lotteries worked to curb popular participation. Individual tickets were priced beyond the means of anyone but the wealthy out of a paternalistic concern to protect the lower classes from being seduced into deprivation. This scheme worked well for a time until lottery brokers devised schemes to sell fractional shares of tickets enabling them to reap greater profits from an expanded popular participation. This shift by ticket sellers seeking to draw a popular audience is reflected in the handbills used to advertise state lotteries.

Thomas Bish, accrued both fame and notoriety as a lottery broker. Bish was a major proponent, and profiteer, of state lotteries and played a significant role in their popularization. To this end he produced a variety of handbills designed to appeal to people of more modest means. The lotteries came to an end in 1826 amidst increasing corruption, unscrupulous practices by ticket sellers and intensifying concerns over the promotion of gambling.

Scope Note

The collection contains handbills advertising state lotteries in Britain from 1806 through the last state lottery held in 1826.

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Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Bills illustrating the conditions of particular lotteries, circa 1808-1815

View digitized documents.

Box 1   Folder 2

Bills emphasizing opportunities for social advancement, circa1810

View digitized documents.

Box 1   Folder 3

Bills used as advertising literature, circa 1807-1810

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Box 1   Folder 4

Bills used as advertising literature, circa 1808-1813

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Box 1   Folder 5

Bills printed for ticket seller Thomas Bish, circa 1808-1810

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Box 1   Folder 6

Bill emphasizing luck, circa 1810

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Box 1   Folder 7

Bills advertising non-money prizes, circa 1808

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Box 1   Folder 8

Bills advertising the last lottery, circa 1806

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Box 1   Folder 9

Miscellaneous bills, circa 1806-1808

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