A FRIEND IN BANGALORE, Mr Aggarwal, alerted me to the existence of an historic pillar box (letter box) in the city’s Bowring Institute. This private club has been located in its current position on St Marks Road since 1888, when it’s elegant clubhouse was constructed.
In front of the main entrance to the clubhouse, there is a hexagonal pillar box, which is still in use. This six-sided box is topped with six sloping triangular panels which meet at the highest point of the letter box.
The box bears a crest or emblem on the side where the slot for posting letters is located. This consists of a lion and a unicorn facing each other. Their forecast rest on a circle contains a cross. The circle is surmounted by a crown with two crosses. There is also a small crown with a cros on the lion’s head.
Below the crest, there is a diamond shaped lozenge containing the letters R, N, C, I (or possibly O). What these letters signified (or whether this was the manufacturer’s name) has not yet been revealed by an Internet search.
It had been suggested to me that the pillar box was a British East India Company (‘EIC’) letter box. This is unlikely to be the case because, from what I have managed to ascertain, the EIC crests included two lions facing each other, but no unicorns. Furthermore, by 1888 India was governed by the British Government rather than the EIC (which was in charge of governing India prior to 1857).
The letter box is believed to be contemporary with the construction of the Bowring clubhouse. In 1888, Queen Victoria was the Empress of India. The post box is therefore likely to have some connection with the British Indian postal service. I have yet to discover whether I am right about this. A quick search of the Internet did not reveal any examples of historic pillar boxes bearing the crest on the box at the Bowring Institute. If anyone knows more about this particular crest, please do inform me.