This is a very interesting vintage real photo postcard that gives us a look at a young boy selling his wares on a street somewhere in India. Note that the lad is barefoot on a stone paved street. Ouch! The young entrepreneur is selling Wellington knife polish. He also has a hanger holding some type of material. I can not identify the item and hopefully a cabinet card gallery visitor can shed some light on the matter. I can tell you a little bit about the knife polish that is for sale on this Indian street. John Oakey (1813-1887) was an inventor and he established a company (John Oakey & Sons Ltd) which manufactured sandpaper and other polishing materials. Oakey began his interest in sandpaper while working as a piano maker. He then set up a manufacturing business in London in 1833. He later moved the business to Wellington Mill. Among his products was Wellington Knife Polish. See second scan below for a photograph of an antique can of Oakey’s knife polish. Advertising for this product was commonly seen on buses and trams in the early 1900’s. His sons took over the company after his death and took it public in 1893. This postcard was published by Thacker & Company of Bombay, India and manufactured in Great Britain. . It was part of a series (#122). Thacker, Spink, & Company (1853-1960) was a major Indian book publisher of literature guides, history and almanacs. They were also an early publisher of photo postcards. They had a distribution office in London, England.

oakeys b


Published in: on December 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I believe the dangling things on the hanger are shoelaces. At the bottom of the photo it says “Buttons & Laces.”

  2. The Oakey’s box is of a type used on counter tops to display goods in shops. Examples exist that used to contain anything from Zebra Grate Polish, Hudson’s soap, Fry’s chocolates and dozens of other products. Once emptied they were re-cycled to contain any bits and bobs. This peddler has acquired an empty one to hold cards on which are sewn buttons and metal clothes fasteners. He is not selling Oakey’s knife polish. The dangling fabrics are coloured ribbons and laces. This was the common stock-in-trade of peddlers throughout Europe, the Americas and the British Empire.

    • Thanks for the correction and the interesting explanation. Once again, the cabinet card gallery visitors prove to be an invaluable source of information.

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