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Calcutta Exhibition Traveller’s Trunk


A wonderful Victorian travelling trunk with original paint, details and paper labels made by The Two Brothers of Jones Brothers & Co, Wolverhapmton, and exhibited in India at the 1884 Calcutta Exhibition. Inside the lid one paper label reads: “Highest Award, Gold Medal, Calcutta Exhibition 1884. Mule, cabin or railroad Jones’s Patent Wood-bound Steel Trunk. Jones Brothers & Co Patentees and Manufacturers Wolverhampton and London.” A second circular paper label depicting two illustrated hands, palmistry style, reads “The Two Brothers, Jones Brothers & Co Wolverhampton” - see images.

The steel trunk has wooden runners which are affixed top and bottom by decorative steel fasteners, along with reinforced corners and the initials E J D painted on top. It is fitted with a sliding bolt that threads through two hasps. There are twin carrying handles either end, with further twin carrying handles attached to its longer sides. Inside it has its original oxblood red painted finish.

This is a stunning and rare trunk.

Country of origin: UK

Date of manufacture: c.1883

Material: steel

Dimensions: Length 69cm Depth 40cm  Height 25cm

Condition: excellent for its age and use, with some very slight scuff marks to the black finish.


The Calcutta International Exhibition of 1884 was the first large exhibition in British India, and attended by 22 nations and colonies, including the UK. It topped the list of 19th century World Fairs, showcasing the industrial prowess of the Western Empires and the exploits from their colonies in the East. Held in Kolkata (then Calcutta), at the Indian Museum, it spilled over into 22 acres of annexes, pavilions and tents which were set out in the Maidan, the adjoining military parade ground.

Remembered in the modern Indian art history as the Great Exhibition of colonial India, it was held as - what we would interpret now - as an imperialistic model of refashioning art and craft education in colonial India. Items from Punjab showcased in the Calcutta Exhibition were procured by Lockwood Kipling, the founding principal of the Mayo School of Arts, Lahore and the father of Rudyard Kipling. Little survives beyond coins that were made to mark the exhibition, yet this trunk does, standing testament to the Days of The Raj, and is a magnificent item of British imperialism.


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