Burma Postcards

On this page are some of my vintage postcards of Burma, mostly from 1900-1939. The publishers often took black and white photos already published, and had them hand tinted before printing. I will be adding more as I collect them so come back often! Included is the name of the publisher and/or the photographer, plus any serial number, after the title. Click on each image for a larger view. Some of the publishers’ and photographers’ names are:

American Baptist Mission Press (ABM press) and other missionary groups

D.A. Ahuja, a commercial photographer in Rangoon:

He started as Kundundass & Co. in 1885 and in 1900 changed the name to his own, D. A. Ahuja. He bought rights to other photographers’ photos and had them hand coloured and printed in Germany. The quality was the best you could get at the time, and his images outshone other companies from France, Japan, Germany and England. In 1916 he bought out Watts & Skeen. His photography studio was still running as well; at the bottom of People and their Pursuits see a photo (and the reverse) of my great-grandmother and her family taken in 1906 at his studio at 47 Sule Pagoda Rd., Rangoon. The little girl on the right is my grandmother at the age of five, Lily Howard.

Raphael Tuck and Sons, printers with a Royal Warrant:

Their postcards, printed in England, were often paintings done on commission. The artists aren’t always named, but the words “Oilette” and their initials can be seen at the lower left of the card. Edith Pinhey is one artist who signed her full name. Another artist who did beautiful paintings of Burma was R. Talbot Kelly.  Tuck also did black and white cards for Whiteway and Laidlaw, the famous department store in Rangoon.

Philip Klier, a very early photographer of Burma:

Many of his early sepia photographs were later issued by Ahuja in tinted form

Sir Joseph Causton & Sons, Ltd, London:

All the coloured cards I’ve seen so far are paintings by F. M. Muriel.

Watts & Skeen: 

In and out of the business, they eventually sold out to Ahuja.

Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co., an important department store in Rangoon

 

 

Buildings and Scenes in Rangoon 

Many of these buildings still exist in a dilapidated state. The Yangon Heritage Trust is working hard to change the perception that they must be torn down in favour of shoddily built skyscrapers.

 

 

Shwe Dagon Pagoda, Rangoon

These four postcards were from the original paintings at the Strand Hotel, by U Ba Kyi, a famous Burmese artist. If you have flown into Mingaladon airport, you will have seen his huge wall murals.

 

Mandalay

The buildings in Mandalay Palace impressed many travellers throughout the 19th century until the mid 20th century. Sadly, all were destroyed during WWII, except part of the watchtower, some of the walls and the four mile long moat that surrounded the Royal city.

 

Other Places in Burma

 

People and their Pursuits

 

 

 

You can find postcards at used bookstores and specialist collector sites.  Ebay has a ton of listings, many of them at a fixed price. If you dare to try the auction, a good sniper site like this will help.

ebay sniper

 

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11 Responses to Burma Postcards

  1. Toe Aung says:

    I have lived in Sule Pagoda road from 1970 to late 1990s. There was a Ahuja Photo studio above our house which is not there anymore. Now only I realized that this Ahuja family has a lot of these beautiful pictures.

    • Chinthe Chaser says:

      Yes, D. A. Ahuja first bought the work of other photographers and had them hand coloured in Germany. He later bought out Watts & Skeene. He produced over 600 postcards of Burma, and his son carried on the photography business. A relative of mine made an award winning documentary short about the son, called The Old Photographer.

  2. Lukas says:

    Dear Chinthe Chaser,
    very nice to read your stories and see your great Ahuja collection (amongst other things).
    I am currently working on a research of Photographic History in Myanmar. I have been in touch with Thet Oo Maung who you say is a relative of yours last year as well. His film about G.M. Ahuja is fantastic and was produced so timely as G.M. sadly passed. G.M. was the the son of R.A. who was the nephew of D.A. – for your reference. Just wanted to say hello and express my envy towards your postcard collection 🙂 best wishes Lukas

    • Sharman says:

      Dear Lukas,

      Thank you for the information about the relationship between the original D. A. Ahuja and the subject of Thet Oo Maung’s film. The film is indeed wonderful. G. M. survived many ups and downs but was still passionate about photography. Do you know what G. M stands for?

      • Lukas says:

        I am sorry for this very late response. I only saw it now marvelling at the postcards again. I don’t know what G.M. stands for and it isn’t listed in the old Burma Who is Who journals. Do you have any clue? I was once told it is an honorary title but I don’t believe this is true as all his relatives shortened their names DA TH etc

  3. Pingback: Postcards from colonial Burma – Fifty Viss

  4. Rose Marie Gaudoin says:

    Thank you for all this information. Great to see the history of Burma recorded this way in colour.
    My mother grew up and worked in Rangoon until 1940 and my father attended university there. I’ve inherited some black and white photos from 1930 to 1940 mostly of family and friends. Rangoon was a very modern city at that time, one of the best in South East Asia.

  5. Thuzar says:

    Dear Chinthe Chaser,
    How wonderful it is to see lots of great collections of my country. They proved our country was modest, disciplined and rich in the past. Can’t stop looking at them thinking how our ancestors had been enjoying their life in those places. Salute you for your great work to make this collection.
    Can I share those photos on FB by translating to Myanmar language?
    Regards,
    Thuzar

    • Sharman says:

      You are welcome to share these as long as you credit chasingchinthes.com as the source. Please let me know which facebook page they will be on and I can follow it. I’m so pleased someone will translate the titles into Burmese. I am trying to add notes about the most interesting ones, which appear when you click on the thumbnail.

  6. Lukas says:

    Dear Chinthe Chaser,
    could you please send me an email. I have a request for you. thanks
    Lukas

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