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Volume 68 Number 3, March-June 2017

Volume 68 Number 3

The Story of Early Indian Advertising
Edited by: Jyotindra Jain

Introduction
Jyotindra Jain

From Craftsmanship to Commercial Art: The New Dispensations of "Art in Industry"
Tapati Guha-Thakurta

The Visual Culture of the Indo-British Cotton Trade
Jyotindra Jain

The Graphic Art of Almanac Advertisements in Colonial Calcutta
Ashit Paul

Commodity Aesthetics: Soap and Cigarette Advertising in Colonial India
Jyotindra Jain

Publicity and Advertising in Early Indian Cinema
Virchand Dharamsey

Matchbox Labels and the Stories They Tell
Gautam Hemmady

Brand-Name Advertising and the Making of the Modern Conjugal Family
Douglas Haynes

Early Publicity in India: Trademark, Branding and Advertisement
Arvind Rajagopal

Exotic India in Global Circulation: The Case of the Liebig Trade Cards
Christopher Pinney

The Art of Capturing Stillness: Cinema Lobby Cards
Sabeena Gadihoke

From Advertising to Public Education: Notes on Burmah-Shell in India
Ravi Vasudevan

Book Review
The Thirteenth Place: Positionality as Critique in the Art of Navjot Altaf, by Nancy Adajania
Akshaya Tankha

The images on the inside cover and pages 1-17 feature advertisements from the archival issues of Marg and trade labels from the CIVIC archives.

Thematic Ad-portfolio: Agents of the Past
Vasudevan, Mrinalini
Vol. 68 No. 3, March–June 2017, 3 unnumbered + pp. 1–17

Despite the historical value of advertisements, there are relatively few resources in the form of dedicated archives. This article describes how this lacuna has been somewhat addressed by private collectors, media companies and academic institutions and libraries which have material from a pre-agency era.

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Editorial Note
Gupta, Latika
Vol. 68 No. 3, March–June 2017, p. 18

This issue looks at the world of pre-1947 advertising from the earliest block-printed ads in 18th-century almanacs, trade labels and publicity for the nascent Bombay film industry. The articles shed light on the development of the printing presses and shifting political and sociological conditions.

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Introduction
Jain, Jyotindra
Vol. 68 No. 3, March-June 2017, pp. 20-21

This issue is intended as a window into the visual culture of early advertising and its role in India’s social, economic and cultural transformation. This period coincided with the rise of nationally circulating newspapers addressed to the fast-growing urban middle class, who were the main clientele of the products marketed by ad agencies. A sociological analysis of the visuals of early Indian print advertisements helps to understand the transformation of social values and the country’s progression into the modern.

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From Craftsmanship to Commercial Art: The New Dispensations of “Art in Industry”
Guha-Thakurta, Tapati
Vol. 68 No. 3, March-June 2017, pp. 22-33

The essay focuses on the “Art in Industry” movement in Calcutta of the 1940s that served as the country’s pioneering corporate forum for the promotion of the art of advertising. This is placed against a backdrop which sees a critical transition in the vocation of “design” in colonial India—from the realm of handicrafts and the artisanal arts to a new social space of middle-class training and practice. We see how these aesthetic skills come to occupy a new median space between those of “fine arts” and “crafts” within the structures of art pedagogy, and the way a new figure of the professional designer emerges in the early guise of the commercial artist.

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The Visual Culture of the Indo-British Cotton Trade
Jain, Jyotindra
Vol. 68 No. 3, March-June 2017, pp. 34-43

Between the 18th and the early 20th century, India was a key player in the global cultivation, manufacture and trade of cotton. In this essay, Jyotindra Jain charts out the colonial exploitation of India’s textile industry and the later efforts to develop a counter-movement of hand-spun indigenous cloth and swadeshi fashion. Drawing references from trade labels, the author highlights the key companies and individuals involved in this field and the social mindsets and values reflected in or influenced by the depicted images of exotic oriental women, mythological characters and nationalist figures.

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The Graphic Art of Almanac Advertisements in Colonial Calcutta
Paul, Ashit
Vol. 68 No. 3, March-June 2017, pp. 44-49

This article deals with advertisements placed in almanacs from 19th-century Calcutta. Its special emphasis is on woodcut graphics. Featured here are known and unknown woodcut artists who influenced the style, content and form of these advertisements. The author reconstructs the world of Brahmin pundits, businessmen, zamindars, commercial artists and seal engravers in colonial Bengal, a world in which their interests and lives once intermingled. And the advertisements talk about the targeted public and how one was mutually constituted by the other. The social and visual history presented captures a particular urban identity born of a distinct art practice.

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Commodity Aesthetics: Soap and Cigarette Advertising in Colonial India
Jain, Jyotindra
Vol. 68 No. 3, March-June 2017, pp. 50-59

This essay analyses the symbolic context of early soap and cigarette advertisements in calendars, posters, labels and print media, which reflected the changing social aspirations of modernizing India. Emerging from colonial consumption practices, both these products represented new civilizational values of urbanity and prestige as well as certain class and gender distinctions. The accompanying visuals draw attention to how the marketing of these goods carefully negotiated the interstices between the sacred and the erotic; the traditional and the contemporary; the personal and the political.

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Publicity and Advertising in Early Indian Cinema
Dharamsey, Virchand
Vol. 68 No. 3, March-June 2017, pp. 60-65

With a focus on early Indian film publicity, this essay maps the emergence of a new specialized genre of visuals from the 1900s onwards which marketed and established cinema as a prime form of urban entertainment. A study of these posters, banners, star cards and booklets reveal interesting insights about the world of producers, directors, actors, screenwriters and set designers from that period and their relations, rivalries and roles within this field. What we gain is a history of the still nascent film industry through its equations with the outside world of exhibitors, distributors and viewers and the inner dynamics of bigger and lesser-known creative personalities.

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Matchbox Labels and the Stories They Tell
Hemmady, Gautam
Vol. 68 No. 3, March-June 2017, pp. 66-73

Until the late 19th century, India’s requirements for matchboxes was entirely met via imports from Sweden, Austria and Japan. However, post 1895, there were factories set up in Calcutta and later in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu. This photo essay provides a brief history of the safety match industry in India—its early struggles to compete with foreign brands and its eventual dominance in the international market. Through various sets of matchboxes, it also views the range of themes (mythological, political, royal and commercial) that came to be displayed on the covers, connecting these objects to the larger social developments and cultural tastes of the regions and times they were produced in.

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Brand-Name Advertising and the Making of the Modern Conjugal Family
Haynes, Douglas
Vol. 68 No. 3, March-June 2017, pp. 74-87

This essay examines the history of professional advertising in Western India between 1918 and 1945. During these years, the global producers of branded commodities made a concerted effort to reach Indian consumers and they came to rely on advertising professionals to accomplish this end. By the later 1930s, these professionals increasingly designed ad campaigns around conceptions of the modern conjugal family that they believed held special salience for middle-class consumers. The author makes his argument by looking at the evolution of English and vernacular ads for three important products—Feluna (a medicine for women), Horlicks (a malted milk drink) and Lifebuoy (a health soap). Despite the efforts that went into these adaptations and campaigns, the Western advertisers’ control on the Indian market remained only partial since they failed to reach out to the rural masses or the urban poor.

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Early Publicity in India: Trademark, Branding and Advertisement
Rajagopal, Arvind
Vol. 68 No. 3, March-June 2017, pp. 88-99

Although brands are taken for granted today as an elementary form of publicity, their emergence was neither spontaneous nor inevitable. This essay looks at the colonial and postcolonial market economy in India to understand the informal circuits via which businessmen and companies sold and continue to sell their products to rural and urban customers. It also analyses the importance of logos and trademarks and issues of copyright related to them. Through a close study of specific labels and packaging, the author highlights the problematics that mark the field of consumer publicity, existing outside the structured world of advertising agencies.

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Exotic India in Global Circulation: The Case of the Liebig Trade Cards
Pinney, Christopher
Vol. 68 No. 3, March-June 2017, pp. 100-107

Liebig trade cards were produced from the 1870s onwards to promote a German-Belgian-Uruguayan meat processing company. The trade cards’ iconography was powerfully exotic and its representation of India was no exception. There is no evidence of Liebig products being sold in India, raising the question of the role of the image of India in this global circulation of fanciful imagery. It is suggested that Liebig’s Indian imagery plays a role within a global imaginary of heightened “placefulness”. The dematerialization of animal flesh in Liebig’s meat-extract was accentuated by its transnational production. The trade cards’ exotic imagery helped re-embed this volatile product in specific locations and in the intensity of human cultural practice. It is argued that Liebig’s “orientalism” is best understood not as an ideology targeted at India, but as part of a broader localization of an important early global commodity.

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The Art of Capturing Stillness: Cinema Lobby Cards
Gadihoke, Sabeena
Vol. 68 No. 3, March–June 2017, pp. 108–113

This essay uses lobby cards from the Priya Paul collection to track a brief trajectory of a “second” camera that captured stills for Indian film publicity. Unlike the raw documentary quality of the production still, publicity photographs were rehearsed tableaus from the film that showcased key dramatic moments and other promised pleasures, evoking curiosity about the narrative, the genre or the star. The essay argues that the craft of the publicity still lay in its ability to re-stage action that was captured so effortlessly by the cine camera. Examples from films like Amar (1954), Adam Khor (1955) and Mem Sahib (1956) reveal the interaction of two cameras on the sets and how they complemented each other through movement and stillness.

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From Advertising to Public Education: Notes on Burmah-Shell in India
Vasudevan, Ravi
Vol. 68 No. 3, March–June 2017, pp. 114–119

When the Burmah-Shell oil company started in 1928, it was to sell petroleum products such as kerosene, automobile fuel, insecticide, lubricants, and road surfacing materials. From its inception, the company developed a diverse advertising agenda involving print publicity, promotional photographs, and film, including the setting up of the Burmah-Shell Film Unit (1954–59) which sponsored many short filmmakers. After independence, its publicity department fashioned a much-remembered ad campaign to capture this extensive presence, “In India’s Life and Part of It”. This article analyses the longer history of Burmah-Shell’s work in advertising, showing how it intersected with a discourse of public education to explain the transformative power of oil. It considers how this archive tells us about the way material transformations were relayed through aesthetic strategies to engage audiences, from retailers and socially diverse consumers to agencies of government with whom the company sought a collaborative nation-building role.

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Book Review
Tankha, Akshaya
Vol. 68 No. 3, March–June 2017, pp. 120–121

A review of The Thirteenth Place: Positionality as Critique in the Art of Navjot Altaf by Nancy Adajania.

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