I own a copy of Pakistan Railway’s time table published in November of 1959. Besides train timings, it has a section of advertisements which is a great glimpse into our national past. I’ve selected following eight advertisements from this publication. Some of the brands advertised here are still in the market.
For good or bad a lot has obviously changed in the past 48 years. Not just in how the adverts were drawn and presented, but also in what was drawn and presented within them. It is a nice drive down memory lane.
(1) Starting from the top, the first ad is a public notice advertisement asking public to buy railway tickets for children above three years of age. Note the male dress shown in this ad. It has definitely gone out of fashion. Imagine how difficult it must’ve been to do non-air-conditioned rail travel in a ‘sherwani‘. Note the dresses of parents are very Eastern style whereas the young boy is clad in all western. Also note the gesture of surprise shown by the lady. Such body language is also out of fashion now.
The last words in the advertisement show whom the ad is from. The words read NWR Publicity, which stands for North Western Railway (as Pakistan Railway was called until 1964) Publicity department.
(2) The second advert is for Rustam and Sohrab bicycles. Most of you may be familiar that these bicycle brands are named after the epic Persian characters of Rustam and Sohrab from Shahnama-e-Firdausi. While both Rustam and Sohrab are not in this world anymore, Sohrab bicycle is still in production in Shahdara, Lahore. I am not very sure of Rustam brand though. May be our readers can enlighten us on Rustam brand’s current production level. I do remember seeing Rustam brand in my childhood.
An interesting thing to note in the advertisement above are the spellings of the word de-lux. Also note the words ‘National Labour’ showing the pride of manufacturers in utilizing local labor. The last line reads ‘made with 90% indiginous parts’. I wonder what were the 10% imported parts for a bicycle in 1959. May be the ball-bearings that connect to the pedal. Also note the offer of 5 Years Warranty for Sohrab and Rustam brands.
(3) Tibet Toilet Soap and Tibet Tooth Paste. Although not so popular now, Tibet brand products are still available. Note the word Dacca written as one of the cities where Tibet cosmetics were produced in pre-1971 Pakistan. I wonder what do the words ‘Twice as Lovely’ mean? How can we quantify loveliness. Probably it means that after using Tibet products, one will become twice as lovely as compared to their current degree of loveliness. By extrapolating this statement, a mathematical mind may also deduce that Tibet beauty products can thus make an ugly person turn into half ugly (= twice lovely). Ok I’ve gone too far. Lets go back to the 50s!
(4) This is an advertisement for Bombay Cloth House in Anarkali bazar, Lahore. Note the 4 digit telephone number for Lahore City in this ad. I guess these days extensions in a single building run in 4 digits
(5) In the set below the ad on the left says ‘Don’t rob the nation!’ This advertisement is self explanatory. I just want to mention one thing here. What is the symbolism of hand approaching the train? Does it symbolize the ‘long arm of the law’. It seems to be going to the wrong place though i.e. the locomotive. An engine driver is exempt from buying a rail ticket, remember!
(6) Trains don’t wait. This interesting ad is from West End Watch company located at M.A. Jinnah Road, Karachi. Can somebody confirm if they are still in business? The ad gives the message that West End watches offer a guaranteed timely arrival for you to catch a train. What is interesting is the man in the advertisement seems to be wearing a West End Watch (note the red wrist strap) and the train is seen departed.
(7) In this advertisement for Roznama ‘Tameer,’ Rawalpindi, note the dress this guy is wearing while reading the Daily ‘Tameer‘ (To Build). Also note the items in circles which show the highlights of what the daily ‘Tameer’ stands for. Despite all the noble mottos, I believe this newspaper is not in circulation anymore.
(8) The final ad here is for Sartaj Sewing Machine and Sartaj Bicycle. Sartaj industries had a very diversified product line in 1959: sewing machines and bicycles. In this ad they are offering their sewing machine for monthly installments of Rupees 10 only. Also note how 4-digit telephone numbers are used as decoration all over the ad.
(Clicking on the photos in this article will take you to their large size and easy to read images)