confectioner's, a hardwareman's, a woollen merchant's, a perfumer's, a restauranteur's, a spirit and wine merchant's, a provisioner dealer's, a grocer's, a coffee housekeeper's establishment, with an hotel…” 11 Publishing houses were complex too. The Bengal Hurkaru was described as a "literary establishment" comprising "a newspaper press, a typographical, lythographical and copper plate press, a circulating library, a sale library and a stationary shop." 12 The great distances which separated the tradesmen of the colonial city from their sources of supply, on the one hand, and from many of their customers (for all the large establishments sought plantation and mofussil orders) on the other, created special problems for them, in stock-control, capital outlay, distribution and advertising. Colonial tradesmen depended on and developed advertising to a greater extent and on a larger scale than their home counterparts. Calcutta tradesmen early began to cite prices of goods and conditions of sale in newspapers, and their advertisements were often very detailed, even though advertising space was expensive in the leading Calcutta organs. For instance, Thacker, Spink and Co. regularly listed all the important book titles received in recent shipments, while Bathgate and Co., druggists, listed major items of their stock. The catalogues developed to reach distant customers impressed newcomers to colonial India. 13 The "Europe shops" did not cater exclusively to the white population. From the 1860's the greatest hope for expansion of many businesses lay in tapping the custom of rajas, notables and the westernizing Indian middle class. Steuart and Co., coachbuilders, boasted that they enjoyed the patronage of almost "every ruling chief in India"; 14 in 1874, John Davis and Co., drapers, advertised "cheap, strong, England-made patent leather shoes for Native gentlemen and boys" while Lazarus and Co. hoped to introduce the "Indian public" to the British mattress. 15 Competition for this custom arose with the
development of western-style shops and businesses by Indians, as will be noted later. Initial advantage appears to have been an important factor in the survival and success of individual trade firms. A number, traceable because they retained the same name even when the business changed hands, which were established between 1830 and 1860, are still operating in Bengal today. 16 There was not room for a great many businesses of the one kind and the first in the field became the pace-setters for one or two major competitors. Calcutta was the capital of the Empire, with a massive military and governmental presence and it was a great advantage to secure the patronage of the governor-general, especially for jewellers, furniture-makers and coachbuilders and bootmakers. Architects, engineers and printers sought official contracts and outfitters vied for the custom of the military. However, tradesmen in Calcutta never benefitted as much as they hoped from the Establishment because of the policy of contracting government stores from Britain.
- Fall '15
- Interest, Local government in the United States, tradesmen