A very rare picture, it is a part of a fascinating collection of Mr Jayakar. A Parsi gentleman sold some voluminous scrapbooks to him about 15 years ago. These scrapbooks contain every conceivable bit of information on old Bombay. The gentleman pasted newspaper articles, ads, pictures, postcards, labels, etc, and wrote down all the information he could find on Bombay in the margin alongside. All the information is accurate, and there are obscure but interesting facts which are not found anywhere else—like the length of the Victoria Terminus station and its cost of construction. Mr Jayakar refers to these scrapbooks often. The only glitch is the gum used by the collector; he had pasted rare documents, maps, pictures, bank certificates, etc, directly on the paper; they are very difficult to remove now. As a result, many priceless documents have been ruined. Yet, Mr Jayakar thinks that it’s an extraordinary collection.
Mr Jayakar is yet to come across another copy of this beautifully printed postcard (right) of Bombay that was printed in Italy and brought out by D Macropolo, a cigarette manufacturer in Calcutta. Mr Jayakar believes that it was printed around 1899 and was used in 1909. The colourful postcard depicts an elephant with a mahout in all its regalia, a view of the monkey temple in Kalbadevi (titled ‘Hindoo’ temple on the postcard) and a statue from the Ellora Caves. Mr Jayakar believes that it belongs to a set of at least six postcards, three of which he has. The series is titled ‘Greetings from Bombay’. He acquired these at an exhibition in London in 2010. The other three are yet to surface. Mr Jayakar has a large and an almost complete collection of picture postcards of Bombay.
The wood-and-metal phone, as the label on it says, was manufactured by Bombay Telephone Company Ltd in 1889. Surprisingly, the first telephone in the city arrived in 1905. The phone doesn’t have a dial, as the earlier phones used operator assistance. After asking for the number, the caller had to wait for a particular beep which signalled that the line was connected. It has a separate mouthpiece and earpiece, and if the latter is dropped, the line is automatically disconnected. Mr Jayakar got it from chor bazaar, and the details of its ownership are not known. The phone is still functional; but, since it does not have a dial, it can be used only as a parallel line. While the phone is extremely rare, the telephone directory that he got from a Parsi gentleman, Mr Jayakar claims, is one of a kind in the world. It is a common directory for Bombay, Karachi and Ahmedabad and came out in July 1942. At that time, one could get a new directory only in exchange of an old one so, probably, all the other editions had been exchanged for new ones.