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Legal Ephemera - Stamp Paper - 1940s

    Legal ephemera from the past constitute an important part of cultural heritage due to their details concerning governance, valuations and iconography of the purpose(s) they were made for. India gained independence from British Rule in 1947 and the Partition gave birth to the new country of Pakistan. The stamp paper in this post dates back to the time just after the Partition.

    The following image of a legal stamped paper with a revenue stamp of One Rupee (16 Annas). The stamp paper dates back to the 1940s, possibly 1948. Stamp papers were used for land sale and purchase deeds and business deals among other purposes.

    Contributor: Subhradeep Chatterjee

Stamp Paper, 1940s. © Subhradeep Chatterjee

    The unique aspect of this stamp paper is that it consists of two printed revenue stamps of Eight Annas each, which together makes 16 Annas, or One Rupee. The text in “X” pattern on the stamps consist of two portions: one, English: “One Rupee”; and the other, Urdu: “Yek Rupee”/ “Yek Rupay” meaning One Rupee.

[Image Description: The stamp paper is a set of two revenue stamps pre-printed on foolscap paper. The rectangular printed portion is situated at the top and is coloured brown while the rest of the paper is in white. The rectangular portion occupies about 20% of the document height at the top.

    The printed portion contains two identical brown stamps placed side-by-side, separated by an “X” pattern which contains the text “One Rupee” in English and “Yek Rupee”/”Yek Rupay” in Urdu (in white). The stamps themselves are octagonal in shape with the image of the king at the centre and the text “Eight Annas - India” encircling it. The entire set of stamps are inlaid with intricate printed floral designs. Below the above portion, there is the Hindi text: “Ek Rupya” meaning one rupee. Above the top right of the stamps is the text “IR.”

    In the blank white portion of the stamp paper, the faint watermark of a crown can be discerned.]

Boarding Pass - Indian Airlines - 1980s

Indian Airlines was the domestic arm of Air India, the national carrier of India. Air India was formerly known as Tata Airlines, which was founded by Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, and later nationalized by the Government of India in 1953.
The following image is of a boarding pass of Indian Airlines for a flight from Guwahati to Kolkata on the 3rd of March (possibly in the 1980s).
Contributor: Subhradeep Chatterjee

Indian Airlines Boarding Pass. Subhradeep Chatterjee.

The airline was born out of a merger of the domestic airlines of the time; the international routes were catered to by Air India while its domestic division merged with seven other airlines (Deccan Airways, Airways India, Bharat Airways, Himalayan Aviation, Kalinga Air Lines, Indian National Airways and Air Services of India) to form “Indian Airlines”. Its IATA airline code was "IC".

The backside of the boarding pass contains a stamp of “Borjhar” which indicates that the boarding point was in Guwahati; the airport of the city is known as Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport which is located in the Borjhar area. It was formerly known as Borjhar Airport.

[Image Description: The boarding pass is green in colour and rectangular in shape; it is a bit larger than a standard credit card. It contains English text accompanied by their Hindi counterparts.

The right top contains the text “Boarding Pass” in capitals along with the airplane model: Boeing 737. The left top has the same information in Hindi, with Boarding Pass being translated as “Prabesh Patra”. The left bottom contains the logo of Indian Airlines (a stylized “IA”) along with the same name in English and Hindi.

While the boarding pass contains printed text like “Flight/Date”, “Front/Back”and “Entrance” on middle left and a box with the text “Seat” on the middle right, a blue stamped text runs across the middle and reads “21 3MAR 18” which might indicate 21 as the Entrance, 3MAR as the Date and 18 as possibly the seat number. On the right of “Flight/Date” is printed “IC” which was its IATA airline code.]

Additional Resources: 

“Birth of Indian Airlines and Air India: Remembering the day when all airlines in India were nationalized.” India Today. URL: https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/gk-current-affairs/story/indian-airlines-nationalisation-day-air-india-august-1953-air-corporation-act-1302436-2018-08-01

“History - The Father of Indian Aviation”. Airlines - IATA. URL: https://airlines.iata.org/blog/2011/08/history-the-father-of-indian-aviation

Agfacolor Photography Negatives - Savoy Camera Stores - 1970s and 1980s

The following images contributed by Laboni Mukherjee are photography negatives of the

Agfacolor series. The photographs were developed by the Savoy Camera Stores in Kolkata.

Image Contributor: Laboni Mukherjee

To know more about Laboni, follow her Instagram profile @chako_boni

Agfa, or Aktien-GelleschaftfürAnalinFabrikation, was a manufacturer of dyestuffs from Berlin.

It had later entered the photography industry in 1898 and become a major player as a motion

picture film stock maker. (Enticknap 18) Agfacolor, or Agfa Colour, was one of their colour film

products which became popular for still photography after World War II.

The Savoy Camera Stores was established in 1918 by Amar Nath Biswas and is currently

owned by his son Arjun Biswas. Situated at 4, Chowringhee Road, Kolkata 700013, it is

one of the oldest photography shops in the city.

Negative Sleeves of Agfacolor and Savoy Camera Stores. Laboni Mukherjee.

Agfacolor Negative sleeves in unfolded position. Laboni Mukherjee.

Inside face of Agfacolor Negative Sleeves. Laboni Mukherjee.

The first three images are of negative sleeves from 1983 and 1986-87, both developed by the

Savoy Camera Stores in Kolkata, India. The one with blue text on white background is of the

Savoy Camera Stores while the other one with black and blue text on an orange background

 is a set of Agfacolor negatives sold by the same shop. The later two images portray the unfolded

negative sleeves with their front and back sides.

Negative book of Savoy Camera Stores. Laboni Mukherjee.

The fourth image is of a negative book from the Savoy Camera Stores. In her description

of the negative book, Laboni Mukherjee writes:

“[It] is from the 1970s. It is a negative book, each page storing a single negative (not having the perforations seen in rolled film negatives, and not having the characteristic brown tinge of later colour negatives)... Even though the negative book advertised the use of Agfa Brovira paper for development of photographs, it cannot be ascertained if the film stock is also from Agfa…”

Additional Resources:

Enticknap, Leo, Moving Image Technology: From Zoetrope to Digital, London, 2005, p. 18.

Neary, David. “On the Agfacolor Process.” New York University,


Acknowledgement: Sincere thanks to Mr. Arjun Biswas for providing the information

about the establishment of the Savoy Camera Stores.

[Detailed Descriptions of Images: The first image is of two sets of photography negatives from

the Savoy Camera Stores, one of them being from the Agfacolor series. The two of them have

been placed on a red cloth background. One of the sets is white in colour with deep blue text

on it. The text reads “Savoy Camera Stores” in capitalized letters along with “Calcutta” below

it, capitalized in a smaller font size. The set also contains scribbles by the photographer

(Laboni’s father) on the top in orange which read “Delhi, Lucknow, Agra” and “1983. Oct-Nov”.

Placed diagonally on the edge of the above set is the Agfacolor one which has an orange and

peach boxed background (four boxes, each colour diagonally placed to its pair). It contains the

Agfacolor logo (name in deep blue colour with an oval enclosure open below the curves of ‘g’

and ‘f’) such that the text “Your Agfacolor negatives” runs across the top orange and peach

boxes in deep blue cursive. The orange segment below it contains the text “Savoy Camera

Stores” in deep blue capitalized letters along with the text “Next to Metro” capitalized and

inside brackets.

Other text includes “Latest Air-Conditioned Dark Room” and their address “4, Chowringhee

Road, Calcutta-13”. The left bottom striped peach box contains the Agfa logo with white text

inside a deep blue rhombus-shaped background along with a white outline having small text.

The second image contains the Agfacolor set described above with the negatives inside the

sleeves unfolded below it. The dark perforated negatives can be discerned inside the

translucent negative sleeve paper.

The third image contains the same Agfacolor set with the inside face visible. Above the

unfolded negative sleeves, the backside of the sleeve cover can be observed as having a

numbered list of instructions/suggestions in small deep blue text with the heading “A Few

Hints for Good Agfacolor Pictures” in capitalized deep blue text with the text “Agfacolor”

being the brand logo.

The fourth image is mainly of a negative book from the Savoy Camera Stores. The image

contains three items; the first is the folded front page of the negative book containing the text

“Savoy Camera Stores” along with their store addresses (“4, Chowringhee Road, Calcutta -13.

Phone: 23-4836” and “25, Bhupendra Bose Avenue, Calcutta-4. Phone: 55-6087”) in deep blue

text (and “FULL” in orange scribbling at the top). The second item is a negative image of

(possibly) a Durga Puja scene having the idols of the goddess and her accompanying four

children, all placed behind a railing/barricade. The third item is the actual negative book in

an open position containing the negatives in sleeve-like translucent pages. As mentioned by

the contributor, the negatives are not perforated at the edges.]

Pond’s LiPS - Lipstick Container - 1953


The wide scope of the definition of ephemera allows the inclusion of objects that often do not come across as traditional ones. Boxes, cases and containers of cosmetic products like lipsticks can transform into ephemera after use if they are unique by virtue of their age, design, brand or content.

Image Contributor: Laboni Mukherjee 

To know more about Laboni, follow her Instagram profile @chako_boni 

The following image contribution by Laboni Mukherjee is of a “Pond’s LiPS” lipstick from the 1950s. The product was launched by Pond’s in 1940 and the instance in this post was manufactured in England. 


Pond’s had forayed into the Asian markets, including those of China and India, and often sought to increase sales by targeting non-elite urban women as the potential consumers. (Jones, 130) Shades of the lipstick range included Honey, Rascal Red, Dark Secret, Heart Beat, and Natural, and later went on to include  Beau Bait, Black Blaze, Dither, Heart Throb, and Blue Fire. (Bennett)

Pond’s LiPS  Lipstick Container, 1953. Laboni Mukherjee.

In her description of the lipstick (and the container), Laboni Mukherjee writes:

“My father approximately dates this Pond's lipstick (or rather, whatever is left of it) to around 1953. This belonged to my paternal Grandmother (Lt. Mrs. Abala Mukherjee). It didn't open with the screwing up mechanism we are used to, but rather had a tube-like brass cover fitting over the brass body of the lipstick. There was a small push-up mechanism on the side of the main lipstick body.

On the bottom of the lipstick is engraved "Pond's" and "Made in England".”

[Detailed Image Description: The lipstick is placed on a brown (probably wooden) surface in two pieces. The cylindrical metal cap/cover has the words “POND’s” embossed on its top. 

The brass cover has a whitish layer with the colour of brass peeking out from the scraped portions. The second piece contains the actual red lipstick within a cylindrical brass container having a U-shaped cavity on its curved side. 

Towards the bottom of the cylindrical container are three ridges around it. The bottom of the lipstick contains the texts "Pond's" and "Made in England" embossed on it. In the image, the cap is laid on the surface on its side while the actual lipstick is in an upright position.]

Additional Resources:

Bennett, James. “Cosmetics and Skin: Pond’s Extract Company”. URL: http://www.cosmeticsandskin.com/companies/ponds.php

Jones, Geoffrey. Beauty imagined: A history of the global beauty industry. Oxford University Press. 2010.

Theatre Pamphlet of the Purbasha Theatre Club - Rang Mahal, Kolkata - 1952

 Theatre pamphlets, much like other forms of theatre ephemera, offer glimpses of the cultural and entertainment scenes of old times. Transitory as they are, they capture the essence and joy of looking forward to performances. The theatre pamphlet in this post provides a peek into the theatre scene of Kolkata in the 1950s.

Image Contributor: Shrubaboti Bose 
(You can read more of Shrubaboti’s writings and musings on her blog at: https://shrubaboti.wordpress.com/)

The following contribution by Shrubaboti Bose is an image of a theatre pamphlet from the 10th of March, 1952, staged by the Purbasha theatre club at the Rang Mahal theatre hall. The theatre hall was built in 1931 in North Kolkata. 

In the lines below, she remembers her encounter with the ephemera:

“There's a total of 7 objects in the picture. There's a tiny black pocket pouch, an old stamp, an old metal pen, a caricature drawn by my grandfather, an antique clock, a black diary for writing memos, a theatre pamphlet featuring my grandfather as the protagonist of the play "Aaj Obhinoy Bondho" and dated 10th March, 1952. It was organised by the theatre club called Purbasha.

My grandfather was a theatre actor in his days. But he also liked to doodle sometimes. Mostly caricatures and cartoons.

As I cleaned his old bookshelf a few weeks back, I found little newspaper cut-outs of actors and actresses kept gently between the pages of a notebook. Ones he looked up to or perhaps secretly admired. Among the mess of cluttered junk, I found tattered books, old and dusty, riddled by termites and their pages powdery, brittle with mould and mildew.

I found little pocket diaries with notes dating back to the 1950s, scribbled in hasty but beautiful old-school cursive handwriting, memos about meeting someone in the neighbourhood or calling up a colleague. I found objects, quaint glasses, small wooden cases, things quite outdated and almost negligible inside the cupboard. I cleaned them one by one, returning each to its dear spot on the shelf, keeping his memories alive in them.”

The theatre pamphlet below (along with the other bits and pieces) belong to the very shelf that Shrubaboti Bose rediscovered.

[Detailed Image Description: The seven objects in the image are: a small and round antique clock manufactured by “CYMA” with a yellowed dial and the time reading 10:10 AM/PM; a black diary with the word “Diary” printed on it in golden text; a caricature of a balding pot-bellied man gesticulating and sitting on the floor sketched in black; a small black pouch with a golden insignia; an old brown postage stamp of value “1 Pies”; an old golden pen; a theatre leaflet having the black-and-white photographs of theatre actor Sri Ramendranath Basu (“SriRamen Basu” in the image) and actress Srimati Shankari Mukhopadhyay; and lastly, and most importantly, the theatre pamphlet having Bengali text which read “Purbasha” on the left and the name of the play on the right: “Aj Obhinoy Bondho” (meaning “No Acting Today” or “No Theatre Today”). The accompanying texts include the date and time of the show: “10th March, 1952, Monday 7PM Evening” and the venue “Rang Mahal”; produced by “Sri Arun Ray” and written by “Sri Birendranath PalChoudhury”. The entire text is in black. The pamphlet cover has a small brownish stain in the upper right.

Some of the objects are placed on others but are arranged clockwise in the following manner: pouch, caricature, clock, diary, theatre pamphlet with details of the play and the leaflet of the actors’ photographs.]

Additional resources:

Majumdar, Saikat. “Kolkata’s commercial theatre was built on literature, but was looked down on by the intelligentsia.” Scroll.in. URL:

“CYMA - The Brand”. URL: https://www.cyma.ch/brand/history/1930-1959

Chinese Umbrella Label of the Hangzhou Paradise Umbrella Factory - 1990


 Hangzhou Paradise Umbrella Group is one of the largest professional umbrella makers in China and has been popular for decades.  The images below contain the tag/label of a grey foldable umbrella manufactured by the company.

The umbrella was purchased in China by my uncle around 1990.

Ephemera Contributor: Subhradeep Chatterjee

Translator: Vila He

 Original label of Paradise Umbrella in Chinese, 1990

 Translated Label (with overlay) of the Umbrella label, 1990


Side view of the label along with the umbrella spindles.

Special thanks to Vila He for the brilliant overlay of the translation on the original label. 

(Find more of her amazing designs on Behance here.)

[Descriptions of the Images: The first image contain the circular label with a circular portion cut out at the centre. The label contains Chinese text in red, all inside multiple circular sectors (one above the other) bordered with red. The label was removed from the umbrella and pressed on a sheet of paper thereby making the label appear as a centre-cut circular piece.

The second image contains the same label with the translated text put as an overlay on the original label. The text is in red. Texts include: "Paradise Umbrella" (bigger font size), "two-year guarantee", "Hangzhou Paradise Umbrella Factory", "Worker No.", "made in 1990", and "West Jianguo Road 111 TEL 73222".

The third image is of the side view of the label while attached to the umbrella. The spindles of the umbrella are visible in this image, with some portions of the label text behind it.]

Lufthansa Flugplan/Timetable - October 1991 to March 1992

 Lufthansa (full name: Deutsche Lufthansa AG) is a German airline with its headquarters in Cologne, Germany. Its timetable for the period 27 October 1991 to 28 March 1992 is a valuable instance of ephemera for aviation enthusiasts.

Image Contributors: Joy Datta and Subhradeep Chatterjee


Lufthansa Timetable, 1991-92. Front Cover.

Lufthansa Timetable, 1991-92. Back cover.

Lufthansa Timetable, 1991-92. Contents Page.

[Descriptions of the Images: The first image is of the front cover of the timetable of Lufthansa which is rectangular in shape with the height being about the double of the width.. It contains the "Lufthansa" brand name in deep blue on a yellowish orange background at the top left corner. 
Below the brand name is their trademark logo of a flying crane inside a circle in deep blue. Towards the bottom of the cover, and aligned to the left, is the text "Flugplan" above "Timetable" in white colour. (Flugplan is German for "timetable".) At the bottom, aligned to the centre, is the text "27 Oct 91 _ 28 March 92" in black.

In the second image, the back cover of the timetable follows the same colour pattern with the brand name and logo on the top left. 
Towards the middle of the back cover is a black rectangular outline inside which is the logo of the German Olympia Team in deep blue and the text "TEAM OLYMPIA 1992" in white. The text bleeds out of the rectangular outline. On the two sides of the above unit contain two sets of text in black; the left one reads: "Contact your IATA Travel or Freight Agents - the experts who share our confidence" with the same in German above it. The right one reads: "Official Airline and sponsor of the German Olypia-team 1992". Below all these is a rectangular outlined box which is empty.

The third image is of the Contents page of the said timetable. 
The opened view of the timetable presents two pages with black text on white background. The left page is titled "How to use" along with the same in German ("Hinweise zur Benutzung") and contains some sample flight timings and airport codes while the right page is titled "Contents" with its German: "Inhalt". 
In both the pages, the English text appears below the German ones.  Towards the bottom right of the Contents page are the publication details of the timetable where it says that it was printed in the "Federal Republic of Germany".]

Certificate of Posting - Indian Postage System - 1951


Certificate of Posting. Indian Postage system. 1951.
The Certificate of Posting was a document of acknowledgement for receipt of unregistered articles by the Post Office and was issued to the person posting the articles as an assurance. It was discontinued in 2011 by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Department of Posts) vide notice "D.G. Posts No.2-4/2008-PO dated 23.02.2011". 
The image above is of such a Certificate of Posting from 12 February 1951. The address of the article has been blurred to protect the privacy of the posting person.

Contributor: Subhradeep Chatterjee
[Image Description: The image contains a piece of paper with postage stamp of "India Postage" along with ink stamps by the Post Office.
 Aligned to the centre in the upper portion is the text "Certificate of Posting" capitalized in black colour. One the left is the text: "Ms-19". The certificate above contains a scribbled date: 12/02/51. On the right (which covers a significant portion of the certificate) is a lined box for writing the address. 
In this image, the address has been blurred to protect the privacy of the posting person. On the left, just beside the ruled portion, is the text: "Description of articles" but the portion remains blank in this particular certificate. In that space, the before-mentioned postage stamp is stuck. 
Above the ruled portion is the text: "Exact address on the article" in black text. Between the ruled box and the heading "Certificate of Posting" (mentioned previously) is the text: "The unregistered articles address as under have been posted here this day -".  Below all the above mentioned elements (which is the bottom-most portion of the certificate) is the text: "Total number of articles (in words)."]

Additional resources:

Lobana, G S. “Certificate of Posting - A Critical Study.” Dak Tar, XXIX, no. 8, Mar. 1985, pamnani.info/philatelysite/pdf_files/COP_Article.pdf

Lobana, G.S. "Legal Implications of Certificate of Posting". Dak Tar, Jun. 1985, pamnani.info/philatelysite/pdf_files/COP_Article.pdf

Griffin, D.B. "Cochin - The Certificates of Posting." pamnani.info/philatelysite/pdf_files/thecertificateofpostingbyd.b.griffin.pdf

Queen's Velvet Smooth Writing Paper by John Dickinson - 1950s

Queen's Velvet Writing Paper by John Dickinson. From the 1950s.
John Dickinson began his career as a stationer in the City of London in the 1800s and launched the eponymous paper brand after he patented his paper-making technique. [ The above image is of a pad of 40 Wedgwood sheets produced by the company and marketed under the "Queen's Velvet" sub-brand.]
[Image Description:  The image contains the cover page of a vintage notepad. The entire cover page is of blue colour with the brand name: "Queen's Velvet" in capitals in the upper portion, aligned to the centre. 
The brand name is embossed in dark gold colour along with a golden crown logo above it. Below the golden embossing of the brand name, the following text appears in white: "Velvet Smooth Writing Paper By John Dickinson" (capitalized). Aligned to the centre and placed at the bottom of the cover page, there is the text: "Wedgwood 40 Sheets" in white capitalized text.
The image below shows a few pages from the notepad. The pages have a bluish hue. In touch and feel, they are very smooth.]

Some papers from the Queen's Velvet Notepad 

Contributor: Subhradeep Chatterjee

Sources for researchers:
"John Dickinson's Mill", Croxley Green History Project.

Warwick-Ching, Anthony. Stolen Heritage: The Strange Death of Industrial England.
URL: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=2y_-DwAAQBAJ&dq

Prince Henry Tobacco Label - Made in India


 Prince Henry Flake Tobacco label. 50 grams. Made in India. Licensed by the James Carlton Ltd. London.
Image Contributor: Subhradeep Chatterjee
The above label is of the 50gm pack of the brand's flake tobacco and dates back to the 1960s. Prince Henry is a sub-brand of the NTC Industries which was established in 1931 in Kolkata. 

[Image Description: The label design comprises of a visual pattern which is a mix of deep brown and dark yellow colours. The top portion of the label contains a white area aligned to the centre. The white box contains the text "Prince Henry" (the brand name) in red colour. 
The text "Flake Tobacco" is printed in light silver highlighted by black. Below the text "50 Grammes", the name of the licensor is printed in black text: "James Carlton Ltd. London". The above set of texts is surrounded by a grey patterned border. Outside the border is the text "Made in India". Except the brand name, all text is capitalized.
While the image presents the entire label without being folded, the actual folded label had another text area on its back which is now visible in the unfolded label's lower portion. This white text label is in the shape of an oval containing the message: "It's time you Savoured the full flavour of Prince Henry Flake Tobacco" where the brand name is printed with its trademark typography in red and the term "Flake Tobacco" is capitalized and black in colour. The entire text is surrounded by a patterned red oval border.]