Arts and Culture
Postcards were were the Instagram of their times. Postcards were the world’s first mass transfusion of color images. We went from thousands to billions of postcards in a handful of years around 1900. The finest painters and graphic artists from India, Austria, Britain, France, Italy and the US became involved. Germany and Austria in particular had a pivotal role in the development of the Indian postcard from 1896-1899.
Paper Jewels is the story of postcards during the Raj and the first book on the subject. It uncovers such gems as the early postcards of the great Indian painter M. V. Dhurandhar and the Ravi Varma Press in Mumbai, the exceptional work of an early Austrian lithographers, a British photographer in Peshawar, and Indian studios in Jaipur, Kashmir, Delhi, Lahore, Madras, Karachi and elsewhere.
The book is organized by place into a dozen chapters. The essays cover the key themes important to postcard publishing—religion, dancers, teas and soaps, famines, fakirs, humour, war and the role of postcards in the Independence movement. It tells the stories of the first postcard publishers of the subcontinent between 1892 and 1947. Most of these images have not been seen for a century.
Paper Jewels relies almost entirely on new primary research in archives and private collections in India, Pakistan, Austria, the UK and the US, and explores the many artistic, business, fashion, political and technical developments that contributed to the rise of a medium that is still very much with us today in digital form.