Canal de la Viga, City of Mexico. William Henry Jackson /

By Tom Dare

AN INCREDIBLE series of colourised images taken over 120 years ago on a round-the-world trip have resurfaced this week, giving a fascinating insight into what the world looked like before globalisation brought everyone closer together.

Images from the collection, taken by famous American photographer William Henry Jackson as part of the World’s Transport Commission between 1894 and 1896, show a railway station in India, Japanese men manning a train in Japan and a colourful street scene from 1890s Hong Kong.

Five Japanese men on railroad locomotive. William Henry Jackson /


Further images from the collection capture the members of the World Transport Commission en route to their next destination, a group of men sat on camel-back as they survey the still partially-covered Sphinx, and a group of Korean men dressed in traditional clothing posing on the deck of a ship.

Three Korean gentlemen posed on deck of ship, 1895. William Henry Jackson /


Jackson was a well-respected painter and photographer throughout the 1870s, 80s and 90s in America, and was commissioned for several exciting jobs as photography as a discipline really began to take off.

Peking – inside view of gateway leading toward the Emperor’s Palace. William Henry Jackson /


In 1869, Jackson was commissioned by Union Pacific, an American railway company, to photograph the scenery along their various route across the country. He gained a name for himself photographing the American West, before being asked in 1870 to join the American geological survey of Yellowstone national park, producing some of the first ever images of the breath-taking scenery on show in the park. Indeed, following his death Mount Jackson in Yellowstone national park was named in his honour.

A Chinese houseboat, 1895. William Henry Jackson /


Eventually Jackson was asked to accompany the World Transport Commission on a trip to document and photograph scenery from around the world. Departing from New York in September 1894, the group visited an astonishing forty plus countries, which included England, Morocco, Algiers and Tunis, Egypt, Arabia, Turkey, Ceylon, India, Siam, Straits Settlements, Dutch East Indies, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, China, Korea, Japan, Russia, Europe, Persia, the colonies of East Africa, the Cape Colony, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Cuba, the West Indies, and Mexico.

Man in straw hat standing on Buddhist idol at ruins of Borobudur, 1895. William Henry Jackson /


Jackson went on to have a career as first a painter and then a publisher following his hugely successful photography career, but it is this that he is most remembered for. He died in New York at the age of 99.