Winthrop Smillie Boggs, American philatelist. Journal article from The Stamp Specialist ‘Blue Book’ pp 46-58, published by H. Lindquist 1941. Catalog numbers are presented in the order SG 2004, Scott 2004, Scott 1937, the latter reflecting the numbering in Boggs’ article. We adjust without comment the mistaken assignments of the denomination in that early catalog, as is in fact required by Boggs’ treatment here. There were a number of changes that occurred within the listing, changes that one understands were due largely to Boggs’ commentary. The original title was: Jammu and Kashmir: Notes on Their Stamps.
Srinagar’s Third City Bridge, the Fati Kadal. From Winthrop Boggs’ 1941 Jammu and Kashmir article.
Among the most fascinating and philatelically important of the Indian Native States are the issues of Jammu and Kashmir. There was a time, some forty years ago, when these stamps were extremely popular, much sought for by specialists, while no general collector failed to secure a representative showing of them. With the passing of the years however, those familiar with these stamps have passed also, so that today  they are practically a virgin territory to the philatelist who is seeking new worlds to conquer. Among the issues of Jammu and Kashmir are some of the classic rarities of philately, as well as some of the commonest stamp in the catalog. The lack of authoritative information concerning these stamps has undoubtedly been the most serious obstacle in the way of those who have ventured to collect them, or who have toyed with the idea that they might try to form a collection of this Indian State.
The catalog lists of both Scott and Gibbons could be revised and corrected, and also the rather vague and discouraging footnotes about reprints and official imitations make matters seem worse than they actually are.
A chronological arrangement of the stamp issues of Jammu and Kashmir is as follows: Circular stamps for use in both provinces in 1866. Separate issues concurrently for each province in 1866-78: Kashmir rectangular stamps only; Jammu rectangular stamps supplemented by circular stamps. And finally, rectangular stamps only for use in both provinces in 1878-94.
Of the rectangular stamps of all kinds there are only seven denominations, viz. ⅛a, ¼a, ½a, 1a, 2a, 4a, and 8a. The ⅛a occurs only on the New Rectangular issues, and the other denominations occur on all of the Old Kashmir stamps, while the Old Jammu rectangular stamps are of only two values, namely ½a and 1a. The Old Rectangulars have the value written in the upper part of the central oval, while on the New Rectangulars it is in the lower part of the oval.
From this arrangement it is easy to follow the various issues. If a collection is arranged with the circular issues grouped together, followed by the rectangular stamps, classification will be still easier. The rectangular stamps for the separate provinces are known as the Old Rectangulars, while those for use in both Jammu and Kashmir are known as the New Rectangulars.
The Circulars. One of the most frequent questions that a specialist in these stamps has to answer is, “How do you read the inscriptions and denominations?” We will translate the inscriptions in answer to that question. From the circular stamps: If the stamp is placed so that the character similar to a figure 3 is at the top, and then read in a clockwise direction we have ḍāk Jammu in Dogri characters, meaning ‘Post of Jammu’. To the left of the 3, and reading in a counter-clockwise direction, is the Persian inscription qalamrao riyasāt sarkar Jammūn Kashmīr 1923. According to the Dogra calendar, 1923 is equivalent to AD 1866. In the circular stamps there are only three denominations, viz. ½ anna, 1 anna, and ¼ rupee ~ 4 annas. In the center of the design is a saw-toothed circle (representing the sun, since Srinagar, then the Summer capital of Kashmir is known as the City of the Sun) in which the figures of value are placed. The ½a is represented by a curved line followed by two strokes. The 1a is represented by a stroke and a curved line, and the ¼r is represented by simply a stroke. As can be seen this reverses the 1a and ¼r as given in all the standard catalogs. The reason for this change is based on both theoretical and pragmatic reasoning.
The Old Rectangular stamps have the same inscriptions in the oval band surrounding the central medallion. The ‘sun’ at the top separates the two inscriptions, the Dogri being on the right, and the Persian on the left. [Editor’s note: Not accurate: The Dogri of the Old Rectangulars omits dāk and the name ‘Kashmir’ is added. The star separates the two names, both of which are in the Dogri script. The Persian script is the same as on the circulars, but reads instead in the clockwise direction.]
The New Rectangular issues from 1878 onwards have Persian inscription in the central medalion above the value, while a Dogri inscription is in the oval band around the central medalion.
Early students were great puzzled by the characters of value on these circular stamps, but by 1875 it was pretty well agreed that they were as we have given them above. In those days it was an accepted fact that there were two dies of the ½a and ¼r, of which ‘Die I’ was very rare. Major Evans in his Philatelic Handbook of 1885 felt that it was more reasonable that were should be two dies of the most used values, the ½a and 1a; and the ¼r should have only one die. He accordingly made the transposition, and they have so appeared since in the catalogs.
In 1899 Sir David Masson conclusively proved that the so-called ‘Die I’ was a forgery pure and simple, so that there had never been more than one genuine die for each of the early circular stamps. This of course nullified the argument that Major Evans advanced in 1885, but the connection between the two has never to our knowledge been realized. Séfi and Mortimer in their book on this country admit considerable difficulty in trying to explain the fact that the commonly accepted “¼r” is so commonly used, pairs and strips even being known on flimsy little covers that scarcely weigh an ounce, whereas the accepted “1a” is rarely seen.
In putting the order of the denominations in the way accepted before 1885 a number of puzzling problems are answered. There are further facts, which would require an article in itself to discuss fully, that further support our argument that the correct order of the values is as we have given them. So ends an error of over fifty years standing!
Therefore in reading the catalogs (Scott, SG, Michel, Yvert) read 4a for 1a and 1a for 4a. This will avoid the necessity for changing the catalog numbers and prices.
Let us now look at the Scott catalog and see if we cannot simplify matters there. [Catalog numbers are presented in the order SG2004/Scott2004/Scott1937.]
The 4a black watercolor 6/3/3 has never been found used and can therefore be ignored by the average collector. It is, however, very common as a reprint.
The 4a blue black watercolor 7/4b/2b is so rare as to be of academic interest only. There should be a corresponding 1a indigo that is even rarer than the 4a.
The 1a deep black watercolor 15/29/34 is unknown used.
The 4a deep black watercolor 16/34/29 is unknown used.
The 1a yellow watercolor 23/33/38 is unknown used.
The 4a yellow watercolor 25/38/33 is unknown used.
The 4a deep ultramarine watercolor 19/35/30 is unknown used.
The 4a red oilcolor on native paper 28/47/43 is reprint only.
The 4a sage-green oilcolor on native paper 37/50/46 is reprint only.
The 1a black oilcolor on native paper -/-/48 is reprint only
The 4a black oilcolor on native paper -/-/44 is reprint only.
The 4a slate-blue oilcolor on native paper -/-/45 is non-existent.
The 1a black oilcolor on European laid paper -/-/60 is non-existent.
The 4a black oilcolor on European laid paper -/-/56 is non-existent.
From the above it can be seen that for all practical purposes we have eliminated fourteen stamps. This certainly makes the list far less formidable. All of the circular stamps were handstamped from single dies. That considerable care was used is shown by the fact that so far only one double strike has been found, and that tête-bêches are to the best of our knowledge unknown. Such accuracy on the part of an ordinary none-too-careful printer argues for the use of a device similar to a numbering machine, which would make it impossible to produce tête-bêches, and not overlapping or double impressions. This however is pure conjecture.
The paper is usually a native-made substance which we call ‘laid’ but which is not a true laid paper. It is grayish in color, and polished on one side by a coating of boiled rice flour, which has been hand-rubbed. A few stamps are known on an English made laid paper, and one stamp of great rarity is known on thick yellowish wove.
Before passing to the rectangular stamps, we can lay down a general rule concerning the circular stamps as follows: Any circular stamp on wove paper is a reprint or a counterfeit. The only exception to this is a ½a red oilcolor on thick yellowish wove, of which few than a dozen copies are known.
Above is a Srinagar-Multān cover shown in Boggs’ 1941 article. [Copyist’s Note: The arrow points to what the Haverbeck catalogue Lot 1239 calls a 1a ‘dull blue’ circular. Since no ½a circulars were known in blues at that time, it was natural to take the stamp for a 1a, and that is indeed Boggs’ assignment. Our attempt to verify that from details in the stamp’s inscription, however, leads us to ask whether we are really looking at an example of a rare ½a blue:
Here is the stamp in question in a slightly larger format.
Note particularly the shape of the Dogri -k, etc. It is surely
a ½a, as is the other circular. The State postage thus carried is only twice,
not thrice, the British ½a blue.]
All of the Jammu Rectangular stamps were printed from a small plate of four subjects, consisting of three
½a and one 1a arranged in a block of four, as shown in the figure. Several impressions from the plate
were taken on a sheet of paper, and as a consequence a strip of three of the ½a, or a strip consisting of a
½a+1a+½a can be found. Again we can lay down a general rule that any Jammu Rectangular stamp
on wove paper is a reprint or counterfeit. The only exception is both values in a dull brown-red oilcolor
on very thick European wove paper, which are excessively rare. The ability to distinguish between the watercolor and
oilcolor impressions is necessarily important in the study of these issues. The watercolor impressions are
extremely soluble, and used copies are usually badly smeared. Furthermore the surfaced paper did not take the
impression of the color well, and the color pigment frequently gathers in lumps. The hues are usually bright.
The oilcolor impressions are flatter, more distinct, and the oil usually penetrated the paper so that the
impression can be seen on the back of the stamp. The hues are much duller, and they are only slightly soluble,
sometimes not at all. Used copies are usually as clear as unused. Heavily inked specimens or those from dirty
plates seem to have a gloss about them that no watercolor ever possesses.
As to the Jammu Rectangular issues, we can do some more pruning of the list:
The 1a black watercolor on native paper 53/9/9 is extremely rare.
The 1a emerald-green watercolor on native paper 69/14/13 is extremely rare.
The ½a red oilcolor on laid paper 78/20/22 is extremely rare.
The 1a red oilcolor on laid paper -/2½3 is perhaps unattested.
The ½a brown-red oilcolor on white laid paper -/-/22a is extremely rare.
The 1a brown-red oilcolor on laid paper -/-/23a is perhaps unattested.
The ½a black oilcolor on native paper 74/17/15 is extremely rare
The 1a black oilcolor on native paper 75/19/19 is extremely rare.
The ½a dark green oilcolor on native paper -/-/17 is non-existent except as reprint.
The 1a dark green oilcolor on native paper -/-/21 is non-existent except as reprint.
The ½a dark blue oilcolor on native paper -/-/16 is extremely rare.
The 1a dark blue oilcolor on native paper -/-/20 is extremely rare.
The Kashmir Rectangulars are a much simple series. No cutting of the list is necessary but the
plate 1a black and 1a ultramarine watercolors are extremely rare, so the general collector
can safely pass them by. The first ½a black watercolor [image left] was handstamped from a single
die, several impressions on a sheet of paper. It is very rare used, and practically unknown unused, fewer
than half a dozen such copies having been found so far.
The other Kashmir stamps were printed as follows: (a) The ½a+1a from a composite plate of 25 = 5-by-5, consisting of twenty of the ½a and five of the 1a, the lower horizontal row being the 1a. (b) The ¼a+2a from a composite plate of 10 = 5 × 2, the top row being ¼a and the lower row 2a, five of each. (c) The 4a and 8a were struck from single dies, usually four impressions to a sheet, Since the dies and plates were handcut, each subject differs from the others, hence the ¼a to 2a may be plated. As can be seen by referring to the catalog these stamps were printed in watercolor on native paper, hence we can lay down the rule that any Kashmir stamps not in watercolor on native paper is a reprint, proof, essay, or counterfeit.
[Copyist’s note: A javab cover from Boggs’ article shows the 4a indigo watercolor circular accompanied by a Kashmir ½a ultramarine watercolor rectangular on a cover dated in Masson’s hand “4th Shawal 1284”. The obliteration is the brick-red Srinagar seal. Perhaps on account of the absence British postage, Boggs reckoned this cover to be destined only so far as Jammu; it is actually an external jawaab cover to Amritsar with pick-up date 14 shavvāl.]
The last group of these stamps, the New Rectangulars, afford a most interesting field to those with limited budgets, and who enjoy plating, paper varieties, etc. The Scott catalog should have notations indicating that the impressions are in ordinary printers’ ink, not oil or watercolor. These later rectangular issues fall into three distinct groups, viz., the issues of 1878-82, the issues of 1883-94, and official issues of 1878-94.
The catalog listing is fairly correct. There is, however, no real distinction between the ½a red on thin toned wove of 1879 and shades of the ½a reds issued from 1883. Again the early printings of the ⅛a yellow-brown had turmeric in them (which stains everything with which it comes into contact) so that the ⅛a yellow is an earlier printing. Such cancelled copies of the following that are known are cancelled-to-order:
¼a vermilion on thin laid -/-/118 was never issued.
¼a red on greyish wove -/-/124 was never issued.
¼a black on white laid paper was never issued.
2a black on thin wove paper was never issued.
4a green on thin laid paper does not exist.
Since all of the New Rectangulars were produced from one series of plates, the configuration of these plates requires consideration. The ⅛a, ¼a, and ½a were printed from plates of 15 subjects (3 × 5). The 1a and 2a plates consisted of twenty subjects each (4 × 5). All of these but the ½a plate has a floreate ornamental border. The 4a and 8a were from a composite plate, arranged as in the twenty subject plate. The upper two rows were 4a, while the lower two rows were 8a. The center row was blank. Only one denomination was printed at a time, so that there is no chance of finding an error of either stamp in the color of the other. The plates were made of brass, and were engraved by two seal cutters, one doing the ⅛a to 2a, and the other the composite plate, as well as the plate for an unissued ¼a. There is some reason to believe that the stamps for Kashmir were to be in blue or violet, while those for Jammu were to be in red as before. At any rate there were printings made in violet, blue, and shades of these colors for the ½a, 1a, and 2a. These colors exist on laid paper, usually horizontal, but rare examnples are known on vertically laid. An excessively rare printing of the 2a in a fugitive dull ultramarine shade is known. Fewer than 25 copies have so far been found. The only attempt at perforating the stamps of Kashmir was made late in 1878 when two crude perforating machines were made, one to fit the 15-subject plates, and one for the 20-subject plates. Only the one for the 15-subject plate was in use for any time, and the ½a red on laid paper, and more rarely in violet, occur perforated by this primitive machine at Jammu. The ½a black official was also perforated at the time the ½a red was, but so far only two copies, both on cover, are known. The other machine was in use for so short a time that stamps so perforated are very scarce, with only the 1a red on laid paper being known. As can be inferred from the remarks above, both machines perforated an entire sheet at a time, and gauge very irregularly 10-13.
Investigations have shown that all of the printings in blue, slate, and violet shades were made in Jammu, as were the early printings in red. The plates were then removed from the press and taken to Srinagar, where all the subsequent printings of these stamps were made. The Jammu red stamps can be told from the Srinagar printings in red only when in full sheets.
When the plates were disbedded from the press and taken to Srinagar, large screws in place of small rivets were used in rebedding them, so that a second state is known for all the plates, except the ⅛a, which was printed from only at Srinagar. In addition the ½a, the most used denomination, was further altered, creating a third state of that plate.
Before leaving the Jammu printings we must call attention to the rare ¼a ultramarine watercolor on thin laid bâtonné paper. This stamp was used only in Kashmir for a brief period during 1880 for the payment of the half rate on post cards, a privilege granted to visitors. The special rate was soon extended to Jammu, so the necessity for a distinctive ¼a stamp was obviated, hence the rarity of this watercolor stamp.
The idea of a distinctive color for each province was abandoned by the middle of 1879, all denominations being printed in reds only. The red printings exist on laid paper and also on wove papers normally of thin to medium thickness. The ¼a, ½a, 1a, and 2a, however, occur on a very thick almost card paper. The ¼a is an uncataloged variety, and the 2a is very rare in spite of the catalog price of $1.50.
Early in 1880 when the plates were transferred to Srinagar, printings in red were made on thin wove of the ¼a, ½a, and 1a only. There is no example known of Srinagar-printed 2a, 4a, or 8a reds, but it is not impossible that a copy may be found. The middle of 1881 saw the red color dropped, and a distinctive orange shade used for all values. Curiously enough the 1a orange unused is extremely rare, and copies at catalog price are bargains indeed. All of these orange stamps exist only on thin wove paper.
We now come to the second group of these stamps, namely the colored issues of 1883-94. It was in the spring of 1883 that a distinctive color for each denomination was adopted. All the old plates were used, in state II, except the ½a which was in state III, and the ⅛a, a new value added to the series. The colors adopted were as follows:
The ⅛a yellow. Early printings had turmeric in them.
The ¼a brown in several distinct shades.
The ½a red in numerous shades.
The 1a green, rather fugitive and fading to a dirty gray.
The 2a red on shades of yellow-tinted paper.
The 2a red on shades of green-tinted paper.
The 4a green in several shades.
The 8a blue in several shades varying to lilac.
Generally speaking these stamps are printed in ordinary printing ink on thin wove paper of varying texture and tone. Specialists can divide the paper into fine or coarse, pure white or yellowish.
In 1887 a batch of thin creamy laid paper was used, and only the ⅛a to 1a appear on this paper. The 4a doesn’t exist and the 8a is printed in watercolor (the reason hasn’t been established). The 8a watercolor also occurs on the thin wove paper.
The ‘unissued plate’. The ¼a plate of twelve subjects was prepared, and impressions taken, but the stamps were never placed in use, since the need for a distinctive ¼a stamp had ceased, as mentioned when discussing the ¼a watercoler.
The last group of the New Rectangulars consists of the Official Issues of 1878-94. All of these stamps were printed in black from the same plates as the regular issues, and include all but the ⅛a value. The first printings were made in Jammu, and consisted of the ½a and 1a on wove and laid papers, and the 2a on wove only, all plates in State I of course.
In 1880 when the the plates were transferred to Srinagar, all values were made on wove and thin laid papers. The thin laid varieties are scarce, particular the 2a, used copies of which are great rarities. The thin laid is deceptive, can can be seen better by reflected than by transmitted light. There is another very scarce variety, the ¼a on stout white wove paper, of which so far about a dozen copies have been found. The ¼a and 1a are known double printed on thin wove paper. These must not be confused with the blurred prints which are comparatively common, and are due to the plate being loose in the press during the printing process.
The postal stationery of Kashmir is limited to a ¼a postcard in different shades of red, issued in 1883, and continuing in use until the end of the native post in 1894. The inscriptions are known in three settings, one of which comes in two states. Up to 1887 a laid paper was used, and after that various grades of wove. The ¼a black postcard for official use was prepared but never issued.
Forgeries of all these issues are well known, and unfortunately a series of photographically produced counterfeits were made in Brighton, England in 1900. They include all but the 1a denomination. Except when in abnormal colors, or on a paper never used for the genuine stamps, they are rather dangerous, and can be told only by specialists. Other forgeries of these issues are usually crude, and those having a frame around the stamp can be detected immediately. Several forgeries to deceive the post are known. They are in color, and only the ½a and 1a values are known. They are sufficiently scarce to be worth a great deal more than the genuine.
A familiarity with the cancellations and postal markings that occur on all the stamps of Jammu and Kashmir is necessary to prevent errors of classification of some of the issues. The postal markings may be divided into five groups, viz.: Jammu and Kashmir seals 1866-79; special killers of the State post office 1879-90; British post office 1866-90; the 3-ring unified type 1890-94; other markings, not cancellations.
The first group of cancellations consists of watercolor impressions from seals engraved with Persian inscriptions, which are rarely if ever fully decipherable. The seals were used as follows:
The small circulars (19 mm in diameter). In brick-red indicates Kashmir use, Srinagar and Leh between 1866 and late 1877, and in black in 1878-79. In magenta indicates the Jammu seal in use 1868-70.
The large circular (28 mm in diameter). Indicates use in Leh, a part of Kashmir called Little Tibet. This seal in red during 1866-67, and black thereafter. Care shold be taken not to confuse this with the seal of Poonch, which also is known on these issues, but the Poonch seal is frequently quite legible.
Small square seal (19 mm) with rounded corners indicates Jammu use between 1870 and 1879. Stamps used from the other native post offices than those named above were pen-cancelled.
In 1879 the old seal obliterations were withdrawn and a duplex post mark and cancellation was alloted to
each of the native offices. This type consists of a single circle 20-23 mm in diameter, with the name of the
post office in Dogri, while the killer consists of a lozenge or square of lines or bars, in the center of which is
a symbol similar to the minim sign in music, but which is really the abbreviation for the Persian word
sahīh meaning ‘correct’.
These cancellations are rarely other than black. There are several types of the barred killer, varying in the
number of bars, and the overall size of the lozenge or square. In 1887 a similar cancellation came into use,
but the circle is about 18 mm in diameter.
During this period there were only two British Post Offices in Kashmir, at Srinagar and Leh. These offices used various types of cancellation. The early types up to 1875 had the spelling “Cashmere”. Black is the usual color, but red is occasionally seen. The Leh office at first used gray-brown watercolor, but later used the regular oil black. Before leaving the British Post Offices, mention should be made of the fact that Sialkot in India (spelled “Sealcote” until 1877) was the exchange office for mails between British India and Kashmir. The numerous cancellations and other postal markings used by this office are therefore of considerable importance in the study of these stamps.
Late in 1890 a unified system of cancellations was introduced, consisting of three concentric rings, the extreme diameter being 28 mm. The name of the post office and date appear in English and Dogri. These cancellations continued in use until the merging of the Kashmir Post with the Imperial Indian Postal System on 1 November 1894.
The remaining postal markings include Registry, Postage Due, and similar cancellations. Registry cancellations are known as early as 1871. They give the name of the office, number, and weight of letter, and date. Such cancellations are of great value in the classification of covers. The postage due markings are either in English or Dogri, the latter being in the form of a rectangle 31 × 11 mm, with five native characters signifying ‘postage due’. The other types of markings consist of unusual cancellations in use for a brief time or only by one office, etc. They are scarce to very rare, and sufficiently distinctive to be readily recognized.
Before leaving the subject of cancellations we wish to call attention to a cancellation reading SRINAGAR SE. 4 91. This date was used in cancelling many of the remainders and reprints of the circular and old rectangular issues.
It is impossible in these notes, which have already grown beyond their original scope, to touch upon the proofs, reprints, and forgeries, or to the question of postage rates, routes, despatches, and many other points of interest concerning the postal history of Jammu and Kashmir. We do hope however that these notes, brief as they are, will serve to arouse new interest in these classic stamps, all of which are native products, and have a fascination that always enthrals those who succumb to the lure of Indian Native States.
A ‘typical Kashmir post office’. From The Stamp Specialist Blue Book, p 57 (1941).
In conclusion we wish to thank Mr Donald S. Haverbeck for suggestions, and the loan of material to illustrate this article. Both Mr Haverbeck and the author would be please to inspect any and all stamps or covers from Jammu and Kashmir that our readers may possess, as there are still many points concerning these issues that we are desirous of clearing up.