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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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)


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.


Calcutta, India is the location at which this cabinet card photograph was taken. The studio of Johnston and Hoffmann were the photographers. The reverse of the card has the stamp of Austrian lithographer, Bernard Wachtl of Vienna. Calcutta is the current capitol of the Indian state of West Bengal located in eastern India. However, at the time of this photograph and until 1911, during the British Raj (colonial rule), Calcutta was the capitol of India. It would be interesting to know why this gentleman was in India and something about his identity, but this information has been lost over time. Research reveals some information about the photographers. Theodore Julius Hoffmann and P. A. Johnston established a commercial photography studio in Calcutta (1882) and Darjeeling (1890). Their studio is considered to be 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 cabinet cards from India, click on the category “India”. To view other works by Bernard Wachtl, click on the category “Lithographers: Bernard Wachtl”.