I've recently inherited two old Indian brass items, bought in the 1970s (or earlier) in Poland, and I'm trying to work out where they come from.

I've easily identified the origin of the ice bucket, since it has "EIC E839 India" inscribed on the bottom - which clearly means "item E839 from India, produced/imported/pilfered by the East India Company". The East India Company was a world-famous organization and there are plenty of sources concerning its history, so my curiosity is sated.

However, I have trouble identifying the origin of the sugar bowl, which looks like this: silvered brass sugar bowl (inscribed "MET HLS INDIA") standing on a silver platter, showing part of the engraving and dipping rim

The inscription at the bottom says:



Now, while it's clear that this "HLS India" has been a pretty dang prolific exporter to Poland, I have trouble with determining what "HLS India" actually was.

My Google searches are flooded with links to:

  • Human Learning Systems India (an education company),
  • Honour Lane Shipping (founded in 1997, so about 20+ years too late),
  • HLS India Limited (an oil company).

None of the organizations on the "HLS" disambiguation page on Wikipedia seem to be in the overseas shipping business. The East India Company doesn't seem to have used the "HLS" abbreviation, either.

So - what does "MET HLS INDIA" mean?

  • 2
    Do you think the ice bucket is a century older than the sugar bowl? Oct 19, 2019 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


There's a German Antiques and Arts Kunst und Troedel website where it says that MET HLS INDIA means Metropolitan Hotels India. It's in German so I used Google translate.

Silvered from India is relatively easily recognizable by much more massive material thickness, ornamentation and poorer ornamentation. The bottom stamp indicates the hotel group "Metropolitan Hotels"; one of them is in New Delhi.

The page is http://www.kunst-und-troedel.info/archive/index.php/t-9215.html

The person who wrote this is Austroparts the site administrator (http://www.kunst-und-troedel.info/showthread.php?p=96918#post96918). Translating other bits on the site, there's a lot of old hotel stuff like cutlery, teapots and also they mention a sugar bowl with a cream jug (worth maybe Euro 20 says Austroparts but it looks very different from yours).

  • That seems most likely. Thank you.
    – Dragomok
    Oct 21, 2019 at 19:06

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