Indian Forest Memoirs

Indian Forest Memoirs by R S Troup, 1910

Exhibitor : Simon Backman

In 1910, R.S. Troup F.C.H, Imperial Forest Economist to the Government of India authored a book “The Indian Forest Memoirs”. It was subtitled “The Prospects of the Match Industry in the Indian Empire with Particulars of Proposed Match-Factory Sites and Woods suitable for Match Manufacture”. 

For phillumenists interested in Indian match manufacturing this is a seminal work as it gives detail on the match industry during the early years of the twentieth century.

Below are some passages extracted from it together with some rare labels from my own collection.

Match factories operating in India in 1910

“Match factories have been established in India from time to time for several years past but have in some cases met with little or no success, owing chiefly to the wrong selection of sites and to the lack of expert advice. A few factories are now at work; some of them are doing well. Among these may be mentioned :

  1. Labels from the Berar, Oriental and Bande Mataram factories

    Gujarat Islam Match Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Ahmedabad

  2. Bombay Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Bombay
  3. Amrit Factory, Kotah, Bilaspur
  4. Berar Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Ellichpur, Berar
  5. Ranbir Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Jammu
  6. Oriental Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Calcutta
  7. Bande Mataram Match Factory, Calcutta.
  8. Belgaum Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Belgaum


“The Ellichpur Factory in Berar produces 200 gross of filled boxes per diem, and it is proposed to raise this to 300 gross.  There are a few small factories which hardly deserve the name. Most of these make pyrotechnic matches by hand obtaining matchsticks from Japan and tipping them locally, or even buying Japanese matches, breaking off the heads, and tipping the sticks with pyrotechnic compound for firework displays. The total output of these small factories does not average more than about 300 gross filled boxes per diem.”


Labels from the Amrit Match Factory


“I had the opportunity of visiting the Amrit Match Factory, Kotah (Kargi Road Railway Station), in the Bilaspur District, in January 1908. The factory employs about 400 hands. The average outturn in 1907 was 600 gross of boxes per diem but at the time of my visit only 500 gross per diem were being turned out…Supplies of wood are obtained from the surrounding Zemindari and Government forests from a distance of anything up to 40 miles partly by carting and partly by rail. The supply of wood, however, is inadequate, and splints are to some extent imported from Sweden, tipped with composition at Kotah, and packed in boxes made from local woods. The factory produces only sulphur matches”


Labels from the Gujrat Islam Factory


“I had an opportunity of visiting the Gujrat Islam Match Factory at Ahmedabad in October 1907. The business was started in 1895 and the factory commenced work in 1897. The concern was at first worked at a loss, this being largely due to faulty expert advice. Recently the services of a better expert have been obtained and things are more flourishing. Some 300 hands are employed, and 600 to 800 gross of boxes of matches are turned out per diem. The matches manufactured are safety, sulphur, and pyrotechnic matches.”



Labels from the Bombay Match Factory



“I paid a visit to the Bombay Match Factory in October 1907. This factory situated in the New Sewri Road, is a small one, turning out about 250 gross of boxes per diem, but with more capital it is capable of expansion, as the manager informed me that supply cannot keep pace with demand, and that he could produce every match he produced. At this factory safety and pyrotechnic matches are made, there being no sale for sulphur matches. There is a large demand for pyrotechnic matches in connection with the Bombay New Year Celebrations in the beginning of November.”



The Indian Forest Memoirs, by R.S. Troup, Economic Products Series Vol II Part 1, Superintendent Government Printing, Calcutta, 1910.

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