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20 rare images about the history of print in Bombay

By Murali Ranganathan,

12 May 2017

Printing came to Bombay in 1674 at the initiative of an Indian businessman. A hundred years later, the city had its commercial printing presses. The proliferation of print, however, started in the 19th century, with indigenously developed typefaces for Indian languages, from the 1790s, giving it a major fillip. The advent of lithography in the 1820s also helped. By the middle of the century, there were nearly 50 printing presses in Bombay, many of them owned by Indians.

In the pages of PrintWeek India and elsewhere, printing scholar Murali Ranganathan has been exploring this fascinating aspect of Bombay’s history. This picture gallery with 20 rare images offers a glimpse to Ranganathan’s exhaustive research.

Is the time ripe for Bombay to have its own print museum?

  • The 1790s heralded a new age of information in Bombay with the start of three English newspapers
  • An early Bombay newspaper: Bombay Courier 1793
  • The first ever Gujarati print specimen: Bombay Courier 12 November 1796
  • The first Indian book with illustrations: Dabestan in Gujarati, 1815
  • The first Indian book with illustrations: Dabestan in Gujarati, 1815
  • Devanagari type design revolutionized by Thomas Graham: Specimen from The Ayah and the Lady, 1838
  • Elegant Modi type designed by Thomas Graham: Specimen from Parsee Prakash, 1878
  • Beginnings of lithography in Mumbai at the Aukhbar Press: Gujarati titles. Kitab Korehe Vehejik, 1828
  • Beginnings of lithography in Mumbai at the Aukhbar Press: Gujarati titles. Shavehedul Nafisey fi isabattul kabisey, 1828
  • Lithographed Marathi magazine from Bombay: Shree Dnyanachandrodaya, 1840
  • Lithographed illustrations: Shrushtijanya Ishwardnyan, 1842
  • Lithographed illustrations: Shrushtijanya Ishwardnyan, 1842
  • Early lithographed textbook from Bombay: A Course in Mathematics, 1828. English and Gujarati title pages
  • Murali image
    Early lithographed textbook from Bombay: A Course in Mathematics, 1828. English and Gujarati title pages
  • Persian lithographic printing from Bombay: Majma-ul ashar, 1845
  • Persian lithographic printing from Bombay: Majma-ul ashar, 1845
  • Printing at Indian royal courts – using Devanagari type at Tanjore: Balabodha Muktavali, 1806
  • Printing at Indian royal courts - Early Marathi book printed in Miraj using copperplates: Bhagvad Geeta, 1806
  • Early Islamic book from Bombay: Maulud-e Tahiriya, Hijri 1256 (1840/41)
  • Frontispiece of an early play script: Sudarshan Charitra, 1881

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