This Mumbai collector has a treasure trove of all things vintage
Collecting became a passion for Jayakar Raman and his collection boasts of letterheads, postcards, gadgets, etc, dating from the 1890s through the 1950s.mumbai Updated: Mar 08, 2018 12:56 IST
“I was eight when my mother first noticed my pockets full of matchboxes and cigarette packs,” says Rajan Jayakar, laughing. “Instead of chiding me, she taught me how to soak them in water to get rid of the glue and dry them out between heavy dictionaries so that they could be preserved.”
Collecting became a passion for Jayakar, now 70, and his stamps, postcards, gadgets, censor certificates, logos and letterheads dating from the 1890s through the 1950s are now set to go on display in Worli. “Being a collector is time-consuming, expensive. You need to have the right contacts; and you can’t afford to get bored or go broke,” he says.
Among his most troublesome possessions is a brass kerosene-powered fan of 1890. It makes loud, jarring noises when it’s turned on, and produces little by way of breeze, but Jayakar, a high court solicitor, still runs it regularly at his Churchgate residence, to keep it working.
Also among his prized possessions are cigarette packets no longer in circulation — a young sailor salutes on the front of a pack of Cavander’s Navy Cut; a toff in a top hat grins out of a pack of cork-tipped Passing Shows; and curlicues and cursive fonts adorn an otherwise-familiar pack of Gold Flakes.
The collection closest to his heart are his hundreds of books on the Pathare Prabhu community to which he belongs, and the traditional brass and copperware kitchen utensils called Shevaras that have been in his family for generations. One collection is just Shammi Kapoor memorabilia including 53 song books. He is now preparing for the World Stamp Exhibition in August in Prague, where he plans to exhibit envelopes and postcards from the Dead Letter Offices (DLO) of India.
“This is where letters end up when they have bounced around and failed to be delivered,” he says. For Magnolia, this will be the first in a series of exhibition at the store. “His collection offers a wonderful peek into pre-Independence Bombay,” says owner Maulika Gandhi.