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Friday, July 20, 2018

India at 70: Exhibition tunes in to pre-Partition nostalgia

Antique collectors from across Punjab display their collections in Ludhiana.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Updated: August 14, 2017 2:32:13 pm
Made in 1915 and 1924 by UK-based company ‘Garrard’, one of them was gifted by a British man in Toba Tek Singh of Pakistan and the family has made sure that it is in working condition till date.

With the rare sound machines, radios, gramophones and spool machines at display, the city of Ludhiana on Sunday witnessed a ‘musical’ throwback to the Partition of India and Pakistan, which completes 70 years coming Tuesday.
Of the most prized possessions at the exhibition organised by The National Numismatic Society, were the two gramophones belonging to the Puri family.

Made in 1915 and 1924 by UK-based company ‘Garrard’, one of them was gifted by a British man in Toba Tek Singh of Pakistan and the family has made sure that it is in working condition till date.

A gramophone made in 1915, which was the oldest one at the exhibition, was in a working condition despite being a 100 years old.  The family had turned down all offers to sell the 1924-made machine as they say it is the ‘treasure’ of their grandfather, who shifted from village Sarabha Chak of Toba Tek Singh to Sarabha village in Ludhiana.

Bablu Puri, 40, his grandson, said, “This is not merely a gramophone for us. It is a treasure that my grandfather Lala Raunaki Puri carried with him as he shifted to India. Later, when our family had internal division, it is this gramophone which was given to us as a token of his memory.

He worked as a haqeem in Toba Tek Singh. He had once treated a Britisher and in return he gave him this gramophone. It also had one record of 1905 in it which plays English songs. No matter how much money is offered to us by antique collectors, we will never sell it. My grandmother listened to it till her death.”

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“Seeing the gramophone of my grandfather, I developed interest in this field and started collecting colonial-era music machines, records and cassettes. I bought 1915 made gramophone in 1995. Till now I have 80 machines and 26,000 records in my collection which also include those of speeches of Jawahar Lal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi,” said Puri.

“We have kept my grandfather’s gramophone safe since more than 70 years when he got it as gift in 1940s. There is no question of selling it now,” added Puri, who was flooded with the offers to sell it. The family which now runs a tyre shop in Vishal Nagar of Ludhiana, has put its partition history collection of gramophones and records at the shop for the visitors to see.

Among another rare possession on display was a coin of British India, which never got circulated. “It has ‘His Majesty Mint, half anna, Lahore’ and a crown embossed on it. It came out from coin factory of British India in Lahore and was part of special series of tokens,” said Narinder Pal Singh, who also displayed his rare radio-cum-camera of General Electric Company (GEC) of England.

The antique collectors from across Punjab displayed their collections, which also included coins of Patiala princely state, first radio licenses issued after Independence, 30-inch long wooden radio set of Phillips made in Holland, among others.

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