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Clifton & Co., Bombay ‘Road Sweeper’

Collotype, c. 1900, 136 x 91 mm, ACP: 2001.15.1306, The Alkazi Collection of Photography

G. B. V. Ghoni, Bombay ‘Malabar Point, Bombay’

Tinted collotype, c. 1900, 88 x 138 mm, ACP: 2001.15.0316, The Alkazi Collection of Photography

Raphael Tuck & Sons (Art Publishers to their Majesties The King and Queen) ‘Hindu Temple (Monkey Temple) Kalbadevi Road, Bombay

Coloured halftone, The Wide-Wide- World Oilette Bombay Series I- Postcard No. 8925, c. 1905, 89 x 138 mm, ACP: 2001.15.0256, The Alkazi Collection of Photography

D. M. Macropolo, Kolkata ‘Greetings from Bombay’

Lithograph, c. 1900, 141 x 92 mm, Omar Khan Collection

Unknown Publisher; M.V. Dhurandhar [signed] ‘Railway Porter’

Chromo-halftone, c. 1903, 120 x 86 mm, Omar Khan Collection

Unknown Publisher; M.V. Dhurandhar [signed] ‘Hindu Girl of the Period’

Chromo-halftone, c. 1905, 139 x 89 mm, Copyright Michael Stokes Collection, Royal Society for Asian Affairs, London now part of the Omar Khan Collection

Cashmere Gate, Delhi [Kashmere Gate, Delhi]

Moorli Dhur & Sons, Ambala, c. 1905 Coloured collotype, Divided back, 5.51 x 3.54 in ACP: 2001.15.0570 The Alkazi Collection of Photography

Kandyan Chief and Family

The Colombo Apothecaries Co. #76, Colombo, c. 1905 Coloured halftone, Divided back, 5.45 x 3.46 in Omar Khan Collection

Bombay. A Peep into the Victoria Gardens

Raphael Tuck & Sons, London,Wide Wide World Oilette Bombay, Series #8970, c. 1905 Coloured halftone, Divided back, 5.47 x 3.44 in. Omar Khan Collection

Bombay. General Post Office

Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, Wide Wide World Oilette Bombay, Series #8969, c. 1905 Coloured halftone, Divided back, 5.47 x 3.44 in. Omar Khan Collection

Bombay. Entrance to Elephanta Caves

Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, Wide Wide World Oilette Bombay, Series #8970, c. 1905 Coloured halftone, Divided back, 5.47 x 3.44 in. Omar Khan Collection

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News 19 Sep 2018

Paper Jewels: Postcards from the Raj is an exhibition charting the trails of vintage postcards through India

From postcards representing states and prominent regions to those celebrating artworks by Ravi Varma and M.V. Dhurandhar, the exhibition ‘Paper Jewels: Postcards from the Raj’ at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum offers a glimpse into the past as well as an indepth look into the cultural impact of this communication form. The use of visuals in a mass communication context wasn’t practiced before the introduction of postcards, which revolutionised how people shared personal information.

The introduction of the “Anna” postcard in India during the year 1870 proved to be a large commercial success. The cards could be sent to specific addresses rather than the closest post office. This began a long-standing communication practice prevalent in the country to this day. Postcards evolved further to include illustrations and photo images, the later brought about by the invention of photography and the first commercial camera.

Clifton & Co., Bombay ‘Road Sweeper’

Collotype, c. 1900, 136 x 91 mm, ACP: 2001.15.1306, The Alkazi Collection of Photography

Cultural Impact

Postcards were used, not only as a mode of communication, but also as a method of advertisement. These included advertising for companies, events and promotion of various propaganda. Theoretically, a study of postcards from a particular region and period can enable one to assess the political, social and economical climate of that place and time.

G. B. V. Ghoni, Bombay ‘Malabar Point, Bombay’

Tinted collotype, c. 1900, 88 x 138 mm, ACP: 2001.15.0316, The Alkazi Collection of Photography

Raphael Tuck & Sons (Art Publishers to their Majesties The King and Queen) ‘Hindu Temple (Monkey Temple) Kalbadevi Road, Bombay

Coloured halftone, The Wide-Wide- World Oilette Bombay Series I- Postcard No. 8925, c. 1905, 89 x 138 mm, ACP: 2001.15.0256, The Alkazi Collection of Photography

Paper Jewels: Postcards from the Raj is the exhibition chronicling the life and journey of postcards in metropolitan India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, while also exploring themes such as urbanism, art, popular culture, industrialization, tourism, mythology, social reform and eventually freedom and nationalism. The exhibition is divided into three sections highlighting culturally significant aspects of three expansive regions.

D. M. Macropolo, Kolkata ‘Greetings from Bombay’

Lithograph, c. 1900, 141 x 92 mm, Omar Khan Collection

Kandyan Chief and Family

The Colombo Apothecaries Co. #76, Colombo, c. 1905 Coloured halftone, Divided back, 5.45 x 3.46 in Omar Khan Collection

A study of postcards from a particular region and period can enable one to assess the political, social and economical climate of that place and time.

The exhibition is currently taking place in Mumbai’s oldest museum, the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum and is curated by historian and aspiring filmmaker Omar Khan. Omar’s fascination with postcards began due to a chance encounter with one at a vintage show near San Francisco. The card’s artwork, two women making chapatis while crouching on the floor, was striking enough to awaken memories of his grandmother’s place in Lahore. Omar bought the card then and there. Postcards have largely been bypassed by historians due to their private nature and a showcase dedicated to them is rather rare, which makes this exhibition all the more noteworthy.

Unknown Publisher; M.V. Dhurandhar [signed] ‘Railway Porter’

Chromo-halftone, c. 1903, 120 x 86 mm, Omar Khan Collection

Unknown Publisher; M.V. Dhurandhar [signed] ‘Hindu Girl of the Period’

Chromo-halftone, c. 1905, 139 x 89 mm, Copyright Michael Stokes Collection, Royal Society for Asian Affairs, London now part of the Omar Khan Collection

Cashmere Gate, Delhi [Kashmere Gate, Delhi]

Moorli Dhur & Sons, Ambala, c. 1905 Coloured collotype, Divided back, 5.51 x 3.54 in ACP: 2001.15.0570 The Alkazi Collection of Photography

Vintage India - A Trend

Paper Jewels is running during a particularly fortuitous time frame since, as of late, there has been the emergence of a trend that builds on nostalgic notions of a simpler India. This romanticisation of India’s past has seen a surge in period focused art showcases, period movies, classical fashions and even technology. Amongst all this hankering for India’s “Golden Age”, and exhibition on vintage postcards falls into place rather splendidly. The exhibition will be open until 1 October 1st, 2018.

Bombay. A Peep into the Victoria Gardens

Raphael Tuck & Sons, London,Wide Wide World Oilette Bombay, Series #8970, c. 1905 Coloured halftone, Divided back, 5.47 x 3.44 in. Omar Khan Collection

Bombay. General Post Office

Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, Wide Wide World Oilette Bombay, Series #8969, c. 1905 Coloured halftone, Divided back, 5.47 x 3.44 in. Omar Khan Collection

Bombay. Entrance to Elephanta Caves

Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, Wide Wide World Oilette Bombay, Series #8970, c. 1905 Coloured halftone, Divided back, 5.47 x 3.44 in. Omar Khan Collection

For more information on Paper Jewels: Postcards from the Raj or the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, click here.