A commemorative postage stamp on Ardaseer Cursetjee, an Parsi shipbuilder and engineer, 1st Indian to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society :
Issued by India
Issued on May 27, 1969
Issued for : The P. & T. Department deems it an honour to bring out a commemorative stamp in memory of this great son of India, pioneer and innovator, Ardaseer Cursetjee Wadia.
Description of Design : The design of the stamp is horizontal and depicts a portrait of Ardaseer Cursetjee Wadia along with sailing ships with which late Cursetjee Wadia was associated.
Type : Stamp, Postal Used
Colour : Turquoise Blue
Denomination : 20 Paise
Overall Size : 4.06 X 2.28 cms.
Printing Size : 3.80 X 2.00 cms.
Perforation : 14 x 14½
Watermark : Printed on unwatermarked paper
Number Printed : 30,00,000
Number per issue Sheet : 50
Printing Process : Photogravure
Designed and Printed at : India Security Press
Name : Ardaseer Cursetjee
Born on Oct 6, 1808 at Bombay, India
Died on Nov 16, 1877 at Richmond, United Kingdom
- Ardaseer Cursetjee Wadia had the unique honour of being the first in many fields during the Victorian era. He was the first Indian who had the honour to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society; he was the first to introduce lighting by gas in Bombay. The picture on the First Day Cover issued by the P. & T. Department depicts the gas lamps installed by him in one of the streets in Bombay. He was the first to build an ocean-going steam vessel in India.
- Ardaseer Cursetjee Wadia belongs to the well-known family of Lowjee Wadia who had distinguished themselves as the noted ship-builders of Bombay. He was born on 6th October, 1808. His father Cursetjee Rustomjee was a master builder in the dockyard at Bombay. After receiving his early education, he joined the dockyard in 1822 at the very young age of 14. He was very much interested in marine engineering and especially in the working of steam engine. While in England, he constructed a steam engine which he sent to India for being fitted in a boat of his own building. This was the ‘INDUS‘ launched in 1833.
- His flair for the steam engine and mechanical gadgets was such that he was the first to instal steam pumps on the island of Bombay which provided sufficient water to a small fountain thereby demonstrating to his countrymen the great advantages which may be derived from the introduction of steam as a means of power which could be used successfully for irrigation.
- The great interest Ardaseer Cursetjee Wadia took in the engineering line led him to introduce gas-lighting in Bombay. On 10th March, 1834, he lighted his bungalow and his gardens at Mazagoan with gas, when the Governor of Bombay and people from all parts of the town gathered to see this novel experiment. The Governor of Bombay was so impressed that before departing, he presented him with a Dress of Honour.
- Ardaseer was for some time a professor in the Elphinstone Institution in Bombay teaching the mechanical and chemical sciences. In 1839, he went to England on his own to make further studies in the branch of mechanical sciences. During his stay in England, he had the privilege of being introduced to the Marquis of Northampton, the then President of the Royal Society and other distinguished members of the Society. His knowledge of the steam engine as applied to navigation and the efforts he made for promotion of sciences and the useful arts in his country, were recognised by the Royal Society on 27th May, 1841 when he was elected a Fellow. He was thus the first Indian to be elected a fellow of this august Society.
- Ardaseer was one of the dignitaries from India who attended the wedding of Queen Victoria. On return from England, he was appointed as Chief Engineer and Inspector of Machinery at the Steam Factory at Bombay by the Court of Directors of the East India Company in preference to several English candidates. This was very unusual at that time as Ardaseer had to supervise the work of English employees at the docks. He occupied this post with great dignity till 1st August, 1857 when he retired from service. In 1837, he was elected a non-resident member of the Royal Asiatic Society of England. In 1855, he was elected a Justice of the Peace.
- His hobby was to introduce novelties in the city of his birth and thus he was the first to introduce the sewing machine, photography and electro-plating in Bombay. After a distinguished career and useful life, Ardaseer settled down at Richmond, England and passed the remaining years of his life there. He died on 16th November, 1877.