He is one of the pioneering Scottish photographers, travellers and geographers.

John Thomson, born in 1837 in Edinburgh, is also credited as being one of the founding father of documentary photography, especially for his work on the streets of London in the 1870s.

Now some of his most adventurous work, in the Far East, is to be auctioned at a sale in New York in a sale which sheds more light on his ground breaking photographic work in China.

Thomson was the first known photographer to document the people and land of China for wide western publication.

Often travelling with his dog he visited remote parts of China which had never before been documented by camera.

His work was the the focus of a major show, China Through the Lens of John Thomson, in 2011, at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

Thomson's work there, in often "difficult and perilous circumstances", according to Swann Auction Galleries of New York, is now to be sold in two volumes of photographs, featuring more than 100 images.

Illustrations of China and its People, Volumes I and II, was published in London in 1873 and is expected to reach up to £20,000 at the sale.

The books include landscapes and portraits of people in different parts of China in the 19th century, and will go on sale on February 13 and 14.

Daile Kaplan,Vice President, Director of Photographs & Photobooks and an auctioneer at Swann Galleries, said Thomson was "an extraordinary figure".

She added: "An adventurer, entrepreneur and photojournalist, his imagery and anecdotal stories, (which accompanied the pictures, are the very first representations of China and its people.

"The well-connected Thomson spent about five years, travelling 5000 miles, gathering visual and textual information.

"As a photographer and journalist who was sensitive to cultural difference and captured a bygone era, his photographs would undoubtedly appeal to a wide audience of collectors of photobooks, Asiana, and photographs aficionados."

The books once belonged to an American family whose "great, great aunt", an artist, had visited China and become fascinated with its history and culture.

Ms Kaplan said that his images are "scarce and highly desirable".

Another lot in the sale are some of Thomson's images depicting Street Life in London.

She added: "We expect institutional and private collectors from multiple collecting disciplines to be interested in acquiring the two volumes...[as well as] antiquarian book collectors and those interested in examples of visual culture of the Victorian era."

Thomson's introduction book begins: "My design in the accompanying work is to present a series of pictures of China and its people, such as shall convey an accurate impression of the county I traversed as well as of the arts, usages, and manners which prevail in different provinces of the Empire.

"With this intention I made the camera the constant companion of my wanderings, and to it I am indebted for the faithful reproduction of the scenes I visited, and of the types of race with which I came into contact."

Ms Kaplan added: "The market for fine art and documentary photography as well as that for photographically illustrated books at Swann has been robust.

""Many fine art photographs have sold in excess of $1 million, and contemporary collectors recognize the cultural value of photography. Collectors seek out the rarest examples of artworks by the best-known photographers. Thomson is an acknowledged master whose compelling pictures of Asia demonstrate a distinctive visual talent."