What do you see in this photo?
What: A rat bin!
If you zoom in to the lamp-post, at about the same height as the young boy to its left you'll see a small round container fastened to the post. It is labelled 'No 109', and is a prime example of a government-issue rat bin.
The idea was that anyone who found a dead rat in the area should drop it into the bin. Twice a day, a government rat collector would visit the bin and take away the little rat corpses.
Why the interest in dead rats? The rat collectors would take them...
"... to the Government Bacteriologist. Each rat is labelled with the number of the bin from which it is taken, and if found to be plague infected, a special survey is at once made of the block of houses in the immediate vicinity of such bin..." 
That quote comes from a document dated 1913, when Hong Kong's plague epidemics in the 1890s and early 1900s were recent history. I believe that rat bins still used into the 1950s. Do any of our older readers remember seeing them?
Who: The trays of goods for sale likely belong to the man standing behind them. He's got quite an array of little vases and trinkets. I wonder if he was aiming at the local market or the visiting tourist?
Behind him there's a boy with his back to us, engrossed in his book. Is the book stall selling books, and he's waiting for a customer? Or was it like one of those post-war stalls where you paid to read the comic books, and read them right there and then?
No sign of the rat-collector...
When: It's from the same collection as the photo of Altadena, dated to the mid / late 1930s.
Where: Somewhere you could set up your wares in the street, so probably a pedestrian lane around Central. Cat Street maybe?
I'm always interested to see what you'll find in these photos. For instance I thought last week's photo was about the Taikoo docks & sugar factory. And we did get some very interesting comments about them, but we also heard about the ship in the photo that was a wartime oil tanker, and how two streets in North Point got their name.
So how about this week's photo, what do you see?
- Page 165 of "Plague, SARS and the story of medicine in Hong Kong". View in Google Books.