Tuesday, June 19, 2012

History in a vintage ad

I don’t remember posting vintage advertisements on this blog before. I usually hop over to noted author Bill Crider’s blog Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine for a regular dose of vintage ads that tell their own story.

There are always exceptions to the rule, though, and I am making an exception with the above advertisement I came across in Weird Tales: Isle of the Dead, Vol.28 No.31, 1936. 

In this ad titled Let Me Tell You (finger-wagging) astrologer Pundit Tabore guarantees a solution to most of life’s problems that include relief from your enemies. I couldn’t think of putting it any other way.

The ad intrigued me for two reasons: one, it’s a nondescript ad placed by an Indian in an American pulp magazine, and two, the address at the bottom of the ad, Upper Forjett Street. I suppose astral readings and fantasy and horror have something in common.

Now Forjett Street, located in the upmarket neighbourhood of south Bombay (not very far from where I work), and Forjett Hill on which the road sits, is named after Charles Forjett who was commissioner of police in British India from 1856 to 1864. According to a report in The Times of India, Forjett was a genial and excellent officer who wore native clothes, spoke the local languages fluently, and cracked down on criminal rings. He was also credited with creating the first formal police structure for Bombay (now Mumbai).

There is nothing amiss about the advertisement itself for Pundit Tabore’s “descendants” are thriving in India even today, conning the gullible and the illiterate.


  1. Reminds me of some of the weird adds I've seen in the backs of comic books as a kid. I even bought "1000 magnets" one time from a comic book, and they were so small you couldn't use 'em. I still remember being disappointed.

  2. Actually, that isn't a subtitle for the issue (that's "Undead", fwiw) so much as simply the title of a featured story...

  3. Such vaguely "spiritual" or similarly mystical products, services and organizations often hoped, probably mostly in vain, to recruit from the fantasy magazines, particularly the Rosicrucians...but the very nature of fantasy does tend to go hand in hand with skepticism...

  4. Charles, my earliest recollection of ads are from the front-inside, back-inside and back covers of DC and Marvel comic-books. I remember one particularly ad for dozens of price-tagged toys and gadgets displayed across the page. I'll probably find the ad in one of my old comic-books. As a kid I wanted all of them.

  5. Todd, I realised that "Isle of the Undead" was the title of the main feature by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach and not the subtitle of the issue, as it seems at first glance. I mentioned it thus so that readers knew which WEIRD TALES issue I was talking about (in spite of the cover shot). There are some fine stories by Bloch, Howard, Moore, Kuttner, and even Doyle.

    The ad was a surprise. I wonder if Pundit Tabore thought the contents of WEIRD TALES was connected, even remotely, to mysticism or metaphysics. I am assuming he was targeting readers of the magazine in Bombay. I had to look up the word "Rosicrucians" and in the process learned something new, thanks.

  6. He was also credited with creating the first formal police structure for Bombay.

    Kindergarten Schools Mumbai

  7. Anthony, I believe Charles Forjett did just that.

  8. Charles Forjett is buried in the Ladywell section of the Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery( SE London) & his family grave is sometimes featured as a part of the bi-monthly guided walks undertaken by the local friends group.

    Mike Guilfoyle
    Vice-Chair-Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery-Foblc