Gamblers Given Time on a Treadwheel

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George Cruikshank (1792-1878), Cribbage, Shuffling, Whist, and a Round Game!! 1822. Hand colored etching. Graphic Arts Collection British Caricature GA2012- in process

This single sheet holds a series of caricatures around the raids held in October 1822 on London gambling houses, in particular around Pall Mall. The Bow Street Runners led by the Chief Magistrate Richard Birnie (1760-1832), seen in the upper right corner, closed a number of gaming houses although they did not stop “the synagogues of Satan” completely.

The gamblers were referred to as the Greeks or the black stockings. One punishment was to spend the day walking a treadmill. According to the Guildhall Library, at “the treadmill at Brixton House of Correction (1821) prisoners did ten minutes on and five minutes off the treadwheel. In some prisons, like Coldbath Fields, the treadwheel drove a flour-mill, but in others it did nothing at all. The work was done under the Silent System.”

See also: The Greeks; a Poem … Dedicated to All Legs! By the Author of the Pigeons, Fashion, &c. (London: J.J. Stockdale, 1817). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Cruik 1817

Hellén, The Pigeons: Dedicated to All the Flats, and Showing the Artifices, Success and Crimes of Gaming, Gamesters and Gambling Houses … by the author of the Greeks (London: Printed for J.J. Stockdale … 1817). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Cruik 1817.2

Charles Dunne, Rouge et noir: the Academicians of 1823, or, The Greeks of the Palais Royal, and the Clubs of St. James’s … (London: Lawler and Quick and Stephen Couchman, 1823). Frontispiece by R. Cruikshank. Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Cruik R 1823.4

1 Comment

I have a copy of “A Round Game.” And it has the signature of Chief Magistrate Sir Richard Birnie at the bottom of the print just below the last written lines along the shaded grey area.
I notice this is not present in your example.
Is there any significance in this?


Colin Wicks.