A teak folding Book Case by the Army & Navy Store.
The Book Case is hinged to all 4 sides of the panelled back so that the top, base and 2 panelled sides will all fold to sit parallel to the inside of the back once the shelves are removed. The top and bottom of the sides each have a sliding bolt to the front edge to lock them in place to the top and base when set up. The shelves are adjustable. The ivorine label to the back of the Bookcase is marked Army & Navy Stores, Calcutta, Furniture Manufacturers.
The name change from A&N CSL dates the Book Case to after 1934 and this fits in with the understated Art Deco style of the large block feet. The cooperative had stores in Bombay and Calcutta in India and advertised that they duplicated the same variety and quality of goods as the London store. This bookcase however, was made in India and sold at the Calcutta store which was based at 41 Chowringhee. The back is marked in pen 12051 21-4-40.
The Army & Navy Store Co-Operative Society Limited, to give their full title, was set by in 1871 by a group of army and naval officers who had decided they were paying too much for their wine. If they clubbed together to buy wholesale, they could greatly reduce the price. If this could be done for wine, it could be done for most other things and indeed the A&N CSL went on to sell just about everything imaginable from food and drink to clothing, furniture, sporting goods, luggage and toys.
Membership was restricted to officers, non-commissioned officers and their families. Friends could join by introduction and officials from the civil service and clubs etc. could also join. Premises were opened at 105 Victoria Street and the Society quickly grew to be a very large concern with depots at important army bases and ports. With a large demand from members in India, a store was opened in Bombay in 1891, followed by Karachi in 1892 and Calcutta in 1901.
The Society also manufactured or commissioned a number of the items they sold. This is particularly true of the items we are interested in, travel furniture and luggage etc. We also have a theory that the A&N CSL workshops may have supplied other retailers such as Harrods. Although many of the London campaign furniture makers were producing similar items of furniture, a number of pieces sold by Harrods bear a striking similarity to those marked A&N CSL. However, the Army & Navy Store tended to label their items whereas this was less of a concern for Harrods. Four digit reference numbers are often to be found stamped on pieces sold by both companies.
The A&N CSL used a variety of different labels and stamps throughout their history but more often than not the wording 'Army & Navy C.S.L. Makers' was used. Some labels also show addresses. Brass and ivorine labels are known as well as applied leather labels on luggage and both impressed and ink stamps.
The speed and size of the Society's growth was remarkable but still they managed to keep an eye on quality and customer service. Their name changed in 1934 from the Army & Navy Co-Operative Society Ltd to The Army & Navy Stores Ltd. They were eventually taken over by The House of Frazer in 1981.