This vintage real photo postcard features a snake charmer doing his charm in Benares, India. Ophidiophobics should think twice before adding this postcard to their collection. This photograph is a snake phobics nightmare. The photo was taken in Benares, which in India is known as Varanasi. The city is on the banks of the Ganges river. Benares is a major religious hub in India. In fact, it is the holiest of India’s seven sacred cities. What is the point of snake charming. It is the practice of hypnotizing snakes by playing and waving around an instrument called a “pungi”. A popular species of snake used in this practice are cobras. The snake charmer handles the snakes and performs dangerous acts with them. They also do other types of street performances (ie juggling or sleight of hand). India is considered the center of snake charming but the practice is also common is Pakistan, Thailand , Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and other Asian and North African countries. The popularity of snake charming is on the decline. Snake charmers tend to be transient. They visit towns during festivals and market days. The charmers are not suicidal. They sit outside of biting range and try to work with snakes when the snakes are sluggish. In addition, some of the snakes have their fangs and/or their venom glands removed. Some unfortunate snakes have their mouth sewn shut. The snakes do not hear the charmers music. Instead, they are interested in attacking the pungi, which they view as a predator. This postcard appears to be from the 1940’s.   (SOLD)



This cabinet card portrait captures three British soldier posing for their portrait at a photo gallery in Cawnpore, India. The three men are in uniform and the standing soldier is wearing a medal on his chest. The two seated soldiers are holding batons. Note the sun helmets on the floor in front of the trio of soldiers. The photograph was taken at “The Portraiture Coy” located in Cawnpore (now Kanpur), a historic city in the relationship between India and Britain. An important battle in the Indian Rebellion (First War of Independence) of 1857 was the Siege of Cawnpore. Cawnpore was the site of a major garrison of the East India Company forces. There were 900 British (including civilians) in Cawnpore as well as a large number of Sepoy troops (Indian infantry). Tensions mounted between the British and the Sepoy troopers until the Sepoys joined the war against the East India Company. The British came under siege for three weeks until the British surrendered in return for safe passage to safety. The evacuation was fraught with problems and in the end, the Sepoys fired upon the departing British. The result was a massacre which included the killing of 120 captured British women and children. East India Company forces from Allahabad marched to Cawnpore and recaptured the city. Company troops retaliated for the massacre by massacring captured local civilians and Sepoys. The soldiers in this photograph arrived in India more than twenty years after the massacres occurred in Cawnpore. However, they were likely very aware of the historic events that happened in Cawnpore.   SOLD

Published in: on April 27, 2017 at 6:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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This vintage real photo postcard features an Indian man selling coconuts out of a basket at a market in India. He is holding a coconut on his knee while he intensely stares at the camera. The postcard was published by Thacker & Company which was located in  Bombay, India. The card is part of a series (No. 57) and was manufactured in Great Britain. To learn more about Thacker & Co. and to view more of their Indian postcards, search for “Thacker” in the cabinet card gallery’s search box.

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Published in: on December 20, 2015 at 2:22 pm  Comments (1)  
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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.

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Published in: on December 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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INDIANTEMPLE_0003This cabinet card portrait features four Indian men posing for their portrait at the Holland studio in Boston, Massachusetts. These visitors are wearing their traditional clothing, including turbans. At least one of the men is barefoot. One of the men is holding a paper while another is holding a book. Could it be a prayer book? These men may be Sikhs. The previous owner of this photograph suggested that the seated men are Sikhs and the other two men are Burmese attendants. Hopefully, someone from the cabinet card gallery’s vast unpaid research department will be able to specify the ethnicity of the subjects of this photograph. It is is interesting to note that the photographer’s studio is located on Temple Place. Could there be a Hindu temple nearby? The photographer of this terrific image is Henry F. Holland (1853?-1911?). He entered the world of Boston photography when he became a partner with George P. Roberts in 1886. Their studio was located at 10 Temple Place (the same address as this image). The partners designed their own back drops and their studio was a great success; at one time employing 25 people. The gallery was advertised as “the finest studio in New England” and Holland’s business motto was “Realism in Photography”. Apparently Holland should have practiced realism in business because the gallery eventually went bankrupt. Speculation is that a poor investment in a printing business led to the collapse of Holland’s studio. His partner, Mr. Roberts, left the firm in 1888, two years before the bankruptcy. Holland was buoyant and by 1891 had established a new photography studio called “Ye Holland Studio” which he opened on Washington Street in Boston. He soon left the studio for his son’s Tom and C. E. to manage. Holland than entered business in another field for which he had much passion. He formed the Freeman-Holland Company and became involved in the electricity business. He became the local general manager of the National Electrical Manufacturing Company. He also combined his interest photography and technology by becoming a photographer of industrial equipment.



This cabinet card offers a fascinating portrait of a couple dressed for a costume party occurring in India. The couple are either in the country on holiday or perhaps the man is assigned to work there by his government. Inscriptions on the reverse of the photograph provide some explanatory information about the image. The photograph was taken 9/24/1894. The couple is wearing the costumes that they wore to a “Fancy dress ball” that was held on 9/20/1894. The gentleman is dressed as a Raja while the woman is dressed a a gypsy. She is holding a tambourine. This photograph was taken by a well know Indian studio. Theodore Julius Hoffmann and P. A. Johnston established a commercial photography studio in Calcutta (1882) and Darjeeling (1890). They also operated a studio in Simla. Johnston and Hoffmann’s photography business was the second largest commercial photography studio in India in that period. Many of their images were of North and Northeast India as well as Sikkim and Nepal. To view other photographs this pair of photographers, click on the category “Photographer: Johnston and Hoffmann”.  (SOLD)


dr anna kugle_0006It is not the quality of the image that makes this photograph special. This is a unique photograph because of the identity of the subject. Meet Dr. Anna S. Kugler. Anna Sarah Kugler (1856-1930) provided 47 years of service ministering to the spiritual and physical health of the people of southern India. She was the second female missionary and the first female medical missionary sent by the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the United States. She was born in Ardmore, Pennsylvania in 1856. In 1879 she graduated from Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia. She did her internship at Norristown State Asylum in 1880. Two years later, after receiving a cleric’s invitation to come work in India to help resolve the major health issues faced by poor Indian women, Kugler decided to take on the challenge. She sailed for India in 1883 and was disappointed that her appointment as a missionary was directed at teaching, not providing medical care. She hoped to change the church’s mind on that matter. During her first year in India she found time to see over 400 patients and still take care of her teaching responsibilities of the Muslim harem women. In 1884 she became the director of the Hindu Girls School, a post she kept for three years. Finally, in 1885, she was appointed a medical missionary. In 1893 she opened a hospital and dispensary in Guntur, India. Over time she established specialized pediatric, maternity, and surgical units in the hospital. After Kugler’s death, the hospital was named after her. Have you heard this quote? “Well behaved women seldom make history”. Women who went to medical school in the 1870’s were likely not considered well behaved because they were entering into a man’s profession. Going to India and working with the poor was also probably seen as outside the realm of being a woman. Thank goodness Dr Anna S Kugler ignored gender boundaries because she accomplished great things and certainly “made history”. This photograph was produced by the Phillips studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To view other photographs by Mr. Phillips, click on the category “Photographer: Phillips”. Phillip’s subjects among his images in the Cabinet Card Gallery include theater great, Ethel Barrymore. At the time of this photograph, Phillips operated his studio at 1206 Chestnut Street. A biographer called Henry C. Phillips (1843-1911)  “A pillar of photography in Philadelphia”. He began working as a photographer while still in his teens. He opened his first studio on Chestnut Street in 1862. He partnered with Samuel Broadbent between 1868 and 1874. (To view other photographs by Broadbent, click on the category “Photographer: Broadbent). After that partnership and another brief one, he opened his 1206 Chestnut studio and it operated for 36 years under Henry and than his two sons, Howard and Ryland. Henry Phillips was a portrait artist and on the side, he was a celebrity photographer. He did not like to use painted backdrops in his portraits. He preferred to photograph faces and figures against neutral or blank backgrounds. Photographs from the studio that utilized painted backgrounds were usually the work of Ryland.


ENGLISHINDIA_0003S. Boesinger photographed this young family and their Indian servant at a studio in Tamil Nadu, India. To the right of Boesinger’s name on the bottom of the photograph is the name “Wellington”. Boesinger may have had a partner named Wellington, or perhaps had another studio in Wellington, England. The gentleman in this image appears to be a member of the British military. Note the servants jewelry. She is wearing a necklace, earrings and wide bracelets. She is also wearing nose ring. She was clearly a pioneer in nose jewelry, a practice which has made a comeback in present day times.

Published in: on November 6, 2013 at 11:58 am  Comments (6)  
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RIDER IN INDIAA woman in her riding habit and holding a riding crop, poses with her horse and servant. The servant is wearing a turban and holding the bridle of the lady’s mount. It is likely that this photograph was taken in India. The subjects and the photographer are unidentified.

Published in: on February 21, 2013 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This cabinet card portrait features a uniformed British soldier in India. At least that is the opinion of the previous owner of this photograph. For all I know, this may be a photograph of a French soldier in France. Hopefully, one of Cabinet Cards Gallery’s  visitors, knowledgeable about military history and uniforms, will be able to tell us with certainty which nation’s army this gentleman represents.  The photographer of this crisp, clear, and riveting image is the Bourne & Sheperd studio. The Bourne & Sheperd studio was established in 1863. It is the oldest photographic studio still in operation. It was the most successful commercial firm in 19th and early 20th century India and it had outlets in Paris and London as well as a mail-order service. Samuel Bourne came to India in 1863 and partnered with an established Calcutta photographer. Charles Sheperd had partnered with a photographer in Agra in 1862. The two men joined forces in Shimla. Among his accomplishments, Bourne  was known for his photographic expeditions to the Himalayans and Kashmir. He became celebrated as one of India’s best photographers. While Bourne was off making himself famous, Sheperd wasn’t just sitting home eating curried chicken and naan. Sheperd became known as a master printer. The partners opened a studio in Calcutta which became their flagship. They became the photographers of Indian Royalty and the British elite. In 1870 Bourne went back to England and opened a cotton mill and became a magistrate. In 1879 Sheperd returned to England. The partners continued to operate the Indian studios with continued success for a number of years. Since then, the studio has had multiple owners.