Phillips Antiques, set up in 1860 is a treasure trove all right. Famous for its rare Oriental and European artifacts, Phillips Images, a division of the company boasts of an extensive collection of original reprints of 19th century photographs and lithographs. You will also come across portraits, caricatures, sea-charts and maps that date back to 1575, Company-school water colours, drawings, glass-paintings, photographs, and English water colour views of Indian subjects.
Says Farooq Issa, Partner of Phillips Images, “Due to an extreme scarcity of such prints and the value of original material today, it has become difficult to source original images. We offer rare and evocative images printed on the best machines and finest quality of paper and are now making it accessible to a larger audience.”
The Phillips Images website was launched in 2006, thereby opening this fine collection to interested folk in India and abroad. The site is divided into sections for photographs, posters, lithographs, maps, folk paintings and contemporary art.
The photography section includes images of Victoria Terminus, Rajabai Tower, High Court and Horniman Circle dating back to the 1880s as well as Raja Deen Dayal’s photographs of Bhendi Bazaar and Crawford Market. There are black and white images of Art Deco Bombay and The Gateway of India, which are a heady mix of nostalgia and history. Do look at an 1850 image that depicts the Cotton Ground at Colaba where cotton trading used to take place.
The Maharaja Series includes frames of kings from all over India and even Nepal. You’ll spot images of India during the days of the Raj, of British nationals and rulers mingling with Indian rulers. Also of interest are the Shikaar or hunting images where you get to observe how they would hunt from Machaans and atop elephants. The site also has interesting images of old-world Calcutta, Madras and of Mughal architecture. Art aficionados can gaze at advertising posters from lost ages as well as Mithila and Gond paintings of renowned artists.
The photographs and lithographs of cities are popular with locals while non-Indians are fascinated with the Raj, Maharajas and Shikaar series.
A special favourite among connoisseurs is their Bombay Panorama images. “Raja Deen Dayal’s Panoramas are a favourite. He has taken these unique photographs from the Rajabai Tower, in 1890, showing the contours of Bombay, long before the reclamation of Churchgate and Marine Drive. They show the Oval Maidan with the old railway line running down alongside the seashore. These Panoramas are truly unique,” adds Issa.