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   Rare finds   

Entry of the Prince of Wales in BarodaWalk into the exhibition 'Rare Finds' and you find yourself stepping back few centuries in time. Here you can afford a rare glimpse of old Bombay, the mutiny of 1857, the seige of Lucknow in the 1857 Indian uprising, Anglo Indian life by Captain Atkinson - titled Curry and Rice, Ravi Verma prints, life of the native Indian army and work of famous artists like James Bailley Fraser, Henry Salt, Balthazar Solvyns, Thomas and William Daniell, all alive in the form of antiques on paper. Old maps and antiquarian books, which have survived many hundreds of years, are also part of the exbhibition being organised by Dilnavaz Mehta in association with Godrej office furniture.

Dilnavaz Mehta with her rare finds"At the beginning of the 20th century, with the arrival of photography, traditional printing methods of engraving, etching, aquatints and lithography came to be neglected. It is only now that people want to move back in time and have started appreciating pictorial images produced on paper," says Mehta, whose personal interest in old books and ancient history led her to relinquish her microbiological pursuits to set up Rare Finds as a source for original prints, maps and antiquarian books. Resale or investment value, adding to collections, aestheic value or plain pure pleasure are few tempting reasons to indulge in rare prints.

A handcoloured engraving showing a view of Surat"I was always interested in books and this led to my rare collection. Soon, requests from friends and acquaintances to find particular books, led to my making it into a profession. I started in 1996 just by word of mouth. I have had four exhibitions up to now at Max Mueller Bhavan, David Sassoon Library, The Galleria and now at Cymroza," says the entrepreneur. Most of the paper treasures have been picked up during her travel expeditions through the country and others from collectors or people wanting to dispose them or in need of money.

The emperor on horseback with a kite perched on his hand "I do not want to reach out to just collectors and serious buyers, but educate people and disseminate information on the historic, cultural and artistic interests of people from the 1550s to 1940s. Most interesting is the fact that all the drawings were made on-the-spot and not from memory," says Mehta on the reason for the showing at Cymroza Art Gallery. Every picture or print has an interesting story to tell. There were four artists involved in the production of one print. The artists drew the picture on location, professional engravers did the engraving, another artist coloured it and then a printer made prints of the engravings.

What can you find at 'Rare Finds' ? - Original prints and maps produced by techniques like engraving, etching, aquatinting and lithography, which have been obsolete for nearly a hundred years. Due to the tedious printing techniques involved only a limited number of copies of each visual on paper could be made, out of which only a few have survived, which add to their exclusivity. The prints were published for various reasons: to commemorate or publicise a particular event or to create a political or satirical theme.

With the increase in exploration and foreign travel from the 17th Century onwards, the need for maps charting various routes, depicting particular areas and trading centres also increased. The print maker, again used the same principle of transferring visuals onto paper. The collection of maps at 'Rare Finds' dates from 1660-1900 and covers British territories, independent kingdoms of the Indian empire, Bombay and the Asian continent, in addition to geographical, historical and travel maps.

A wide selection of books published between 1775 to 1940 on literature, history, travel, art, architecture, archeology, biographies, natural history, old Bombay, British India and British history in India form a part of the rare collection.

Today 'Rare Finds' endeavours to provide good quality genuine pieces at affordable prices, be it books, prints or maps. They offer services like evaluation, restoration, book search and setting up corporate and individual libraries.

Address: Rare Finds, Dilnavaz Mehta, 67 Jame Jamshed Building,
811 Parsi Colony, Dadar, Mumbai - 400 014
Phone: 412 1347
e-mail: dmmehta@vsnl.com

By : Anupama Vinayak TopBack