Friday, May 11, 2012

The India List and India Office List

Naturally my copy of The Colonial Office List for 1911 is fairly useless without having close to hand that same year’s edition of The India List and India Office List. Many of the advertisements are identical, but with telling variations. It is not exactly clear to me why the Indian Civil Service was singled out by Swan Fountain Pens; Messrs. Silver & Co., of Cornhill, who knew exactly what is needed for every part of the globe,” or William Coles & Co., Inventors and Makers of the Spiral String Truss (est. 1819). However, there were evidently good reasons for targeting the markets in Calcutta, Madras, New Delhi, and Bombay for jodhpurs, polo mallets, pith helmets, specialist banking, insurance, and shipping services for India, as well as Callaghan’s Binoculars, Stalking, Yachting, and Astronomical Telescopes and Aneroid Barometers—according to the Oxford English Dictionary, an aneroid barometer measures air pressure, not by the height of a column of mercury or some other fluid which it sustains, but by its action on the elastic lid of a vacuum box or flask—and, of course, Dinneford’s Magnesia, “approved by the medical profession for over 60 years as the best remedy for acidity of the stomach, heartburn, headache, gout, and indigestion, and the safest aperient [laxative] for delicate constitutions, ladies, children, and infants.” I suppose it is hardly surprising that The Law List (which meticulously includes attorneys-general, puisne judges, among many other law officers, etc. etc., serving in the colonies), The Army List and The Navy List, meanwhile, shunned advertising, although The Foreign Office List and Diplomatic and Consular Yearbook did not. In the latter case, certain hints toward the carefully differentiated needs of a British legation, as distinct from a colonial outpost, are discernable, namely J. Schweppe & Co., manufacturers of mineral waters; Carson’s paint, which stands a tropical sun without blistering”; Thurston’s billiard tables; Allen’s portmanteaus, and Clark’s noiseless, self-coiling, revolving steel, iron and wood shutters (satisfactorily “fire and thief proof”). However, a full-page advertisement for Osler’s crystal glass chandeliers, wall lights and lustres for gas and candles, kerosene and moderator lamps for India and home use (my italics) certainly re-introduces a note of ambiguity.

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