Kottayam had lithographic press in 1856 to 1861

Herman Gundert-owned press wasn’t the only one.

KOTTAYAM: Contrary to existing knowledge, a new research by three independent researchers reveals there was a Lithographic (Kallachu) press functioning at Mundakkayam in the district from 1856 to 1861. The research, published in the University Grant Commission (UGC) approved Malayalam Research Journal, states that Henry Baker Junior and his wife Francis Annie Baker as proprietors of the press.

According to the documented history the only Lithographic press prevalent in the Travancore, Malabar and Cochin region by the middle of the 19th century was the one functioning at Thalasserry owned by Herman Gundert. This was the only press in the state for printing pictures at that period, according to studies.

It is in this context that the researchers uncovered a Lithographic press which functioned at Mundakkayam in Kottayam district. The Lithographic pictures were drawn by Francis Annie Baker for the text books in her schools. A music notation book was also printed from the Lithographic press at Mundakkayam.

The Lithographic printing was invented by Alois Senefelder in 1796 in Germany. The three researchers Shiju Alex, Shibu C.J., and Sunil V.S. found that the texts Janananiksepam, Vidya-moolangal, (1858), and Mrigacharitham, (1858) printed at the CMS Press Kottayam contained beautiful Lithographic pictures. It was concluded that the pictures found in the text were not printed at the CMS Press since it is a letter press and they lacked the facility to print colour pictures. The pictures were printed at the Lithographic press functioned at Mundakkayam.

“In the 1855 – 1860 period the CMS press Kottayam lacked the facility to print the colour pictures. The pages which were printed at the CMS press Kottayam, was attached to the pictures printed from the Lithographic press at Mundakkayam”, the study says. The authors quote the book ‘The Hill Arayans of Travancore’ authored by Henry Baker Junior in 1862. In the 7th page of the book Henry Baker Junior says so.

“The Lithographic press has been hard at work at Mundakayam; it has printed two pictures a month for the magazines, thirty five for a natural history book, ten for a reading book, besides thirteen maps, during the last 12 months, and upwards of 500 copies of each of the above.” (Henry Baker Junior 1862).
The study says that the period mentioned by Henry Baker Junior here is from 1856 to 1860. The Hill Arayans of Travancore was published by him from England in 1862.

“In Jnananikshepam, the Lithographic pictures from 1856 are coming in order. The book Vidyamo-olangal was printed from the Kottayam CMS press in 1858 and Mrigacha-ritham in between 1858 and 1860.

The study says that the person who drew the pictures at the Lithographic press at Mundakkayam is Francis Annie Baker. In most of the pictures she had used the word FAB as a sign.

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