Amazon Deals

New at Amazon

Thursday, April 6, 2017

1860s series of photos illustrating the '5 stages of inebriation'

Australia never enacted full Prohibition (wiki) as the United States did, but there were campaigns against alcohol consumption there, as well as here. These photographs, dated between 1863 and 1868, are believed to be propaganda from a New South Wales temperance group. They coincide with the 1866 “Drunkard’s Punishment Bill”*, suggesting there was a bit of a local alcoholism problem. The photographer, Charles Percy Pickering, was commissioned by the NSW government. 

Decades after these photos were taken, the Australian temperance movement seemingly scored a victory when mandatory early closures were enacted for pubs and hotel bars as an austerity measure during World War I. This backfired, however; the early closing times created the “six o’clock swill,” as people dashed from work to bars and drank as heavily and quickly as possible, ending up like the model in these photos before the sun was down.

Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Stage 3:

Stage 4:

Stage 5:

The 'Drunkard Punishment Bill: 1866' from an article in The Illustrated Sydney News: 15th Sept. 1866:
The following is the Bill introduced by Mr. Martin and passed by the Legislative Assembly:-
Clause 1. "Any person who shall be found drunk in any highway, street, or public place, shall be liable, on conviction, as hereunder mentioned, to a fine or penalty not exceeding twenty shillings.
Clause 2. "Any person who shall be found drunk and disorderly in any highway, street, road, or public place, shall be liable, on conviction, as hereunder mentioned, to a fine or penalty not exceeding forty shillings.
Clause 3. "It shall be lawful for any constable to apprehend and confine in any watchhouse, until he can be taken before a Justice of the Peace, to be dealt with as hereunder mentioned, any person whom he may find drunk, or drunk and disorderly, in any highway, street, road, or public place.
Clause 4. "It shall be lawful for any Justice of the Peace, before whom any person shall be taken as aforesaid, and charged without any formal information, with a breach of either the first two sections of this act, to enquire into and adjudicate upon such charge in a summary way, and, on conviction, to direct that such person shall pay such fine or penalty as is hereinbefore provided, and, in default of immediate payment, to commit such person to any gaol or house of correction for any period not exceeding seven days, with or without hard labour.
Clause 5. "This act may be cited for all purposes as the 'Drunkards' Punishment Act of 1866."
Related posts: 

Winston Churchill's Doctor's Note Allowing Him to Drink "Unlimited" Alcohol in Prohibition America.


  1. This is helpful, and gives me a set of goals for the weekend. I usually skip from 3 to 5. Now I know I need a dolly cart or wheelbarrow or something.

  2. Definitely propaganda (but not necessarily inaccurate!) since the exposure time required for cameras of that era was at least several seconds-not long enough to focus in on a staggering drunk

  3. Pfft. I've been jailed for public intox before.