Illustrated history of a Calcutta merchant house
A History of Bird & Co., 1864-1929.
For Private Circulation Only. Calcutta Caledonian Printing Company Limited 1929
First edition, two volumes, folio (33 x 26 cm), pp.xviii, 180, (181)-399, , 15 mounted plates, one reproduction of an autograph letter from Ernest Cable to text, large folding map. Hand-painted initial letters throughout. A very good set in the original Indian bindings of half reversed calf, gilt, upper boards with Baron Cable of Ideford's gilt-tooled arms (crocodiles rampant). A few marks to cloth, one spine label on the first volume slightly chipped.
We locate a copy at University of California, Santa Barbara, and the first volume only at the University of Washington.
A history of Bird & Co., founded by Captain Sam Bird in 1864 with a "handling contract at the Jumna bridge". Over the next eighty years the company became an enormous commercial concern, with its principal interests in labour, jute, and coal. This book was commissioned as a memorial to Ernest Cable (1859-1927), first Baron Cable of Idleford, who joined the company's board in 1881, after eleven years in Calcutta, and transformed the business into a successful conglomerate with diverse interests across India. With the acquisition of its rival Calcutta merchant house, F. W. Heilgers & Co., in 1917, it became the largest company in India, employing 100,000. Cable served as President of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce in 1903 and as a member of the Legislative Council from 1903 to 1905. The text blends the personal reminiscences of senior company personnel, including Cable, with a detailed survey of their operations. The large map at the rear of the second volume illustrates the extent of the company's past and present interests within India.