Seeing comes before words. The baby seems and recognizes earlier than it can talk. But, there is additionally another experience in which seeing comes before words. It sees which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with phrases, however words can in no way undo the truth that we’re surrounded with the aid of it. The relation between what we see and what we recognize is by no means settled. — John Berger, Ways of Seeing,
Disputes approximately beauty might perhaps be concerned in less confusion, if a difference has been set up, which honestly exists, among such objects as are stunning, and such as are picturesque, among the ones which please the eye in their natural state; and people which please from a few quality, capable of being illustrated in painting. — William Gilpin, in Three Essays on Picturesque Beauty, 1768
It is with those crisp phrases, and mind, that Sangeeta and Ratnesh Mathur open their book, Picturesque India: A Journey in Early Picture Postcards (1896-1947). Picture postcards are not the simplest thing that interest this collector-couple though, for they are into different things too — old Indian comic books, for instance, maps, stamps, tour posters. But right here, in this e-book, they stay absolutely ‘authentic and sincere’ to what they identify promises, and communicate most effective of photograph postcards.
Slowly, at a very planned pace, they take the reader thru a journey, now not their personal, however that of the item: the way it all started, what turns and wrinkles evolved along the way, what changed into the ‘golden generation’, so to speak, of image postcards, how it kept converting over the decades. We tour returned with them to the 1860s, research of the introduction in 1869 of the ‘Correspondence Card’, first ‘invented’ in Austria-Hungary — easy postcard for sending messages, not images; study through them of ways quickly the idea caught on in different European nations, and of course in England from in which it got here — nearly clearly — to India, although it became now not without the initial resistance from the Indian Postal Department itself. However, with the aid of 1879, all impediments were cleared, all reservations placed to sleep: the correspondence card became formally here in India. For the price of one paisa, which became one-fourth of an anna (sixteen annas made a rupee if one remembers), a card will be delivered ‘everywhere across the extensive geography of British India’. Some might bear in mind the days while, in school textbooks, inside the compulsory, unashamedly colonial chapter on Angrezi Raj ki Barkatein — literally, ‘The Great Blessings of the British Rule’ — this blessing figured with prominence. By 1883, as a be counted of the document, the Post Office ‘had recorded an annual sale of 26 million postcards inside the united states’.
But modifications were inside the offing then. For this turned into additionally the time while images had no longer handiest arrived in India, however had stuck peoples’ imagination; had commenced becoming a thing in their lives in a few ways. Quickly, very quickly, the sharpest amongst photographers then energetic in India, or coming from out of doors, jumped into the sphere and therefore become born the picture postcard: a fairly priced product that had the capability of conveying snap shots across lengthy distances. The ‘feature’ that as a minimum a certain, if not main, a part of ‘Company painting’ has been performing for years —recording castes and professions, trades and callings, varieties of people, a giant range of occasions and attractions — could be taken over by using picture postcards now. Lithographed postcards, providing ‘Greetings from India’, commenced being produced in Austria, Germany, England and Luxemburg, at some stage in the 1870s and Eighties. Civil servants and vacationers, Europeans and elite Indians have been satisfied, because the authors are aware, sending ‘those photographs in large numbers to own family and buddies overseas’.