The early British post office at Srinagar (“Cashmere”) was operated as part of the larger Imperial system in India. By 1859 this system had consisted of four Postal Circles, namely Northern, Bombay-Sind, Bengal-Burma, and Madras. Each region had a designated “head” or sadr, a word sometimes rendered in the literature, indeed on certain postmarks themselves, as “Sudder” or “Suddar”. Some rearrangements ensued and in 1861 a specific Punjab Circle was created with Lahore designated sadr. This page deals with the British office at Srinagar alone, while some matters of Leh and Jammu are treated on the ► Regionals page, along with a number of other British offices that came to operate within the J&K borders.
By way of general context, however, we note that the early British doings at Leh in Ladakh is philatelically murky, and we cannot give notice of any British postal marking before autumn 1876 when a new sub-PO at Leh was opened. And it was not until spring 1891 that a British office in Jammu was finally opened. Several others of various rank were opened in the suceeding period, all in preparation for the amalgamation of the native service with that of the British Imperial system. Jammu became a head PO, and rechristened on the markings as JUMMU, while Kashmir markings became overtly of SRINAGAR at this time.
1866-1875. Cashmere became part of the Punjab Circle. District post offices that had been operating under local authority parallel to the Imperial system gradually became subsumed in these Imperial operations and new offices were created as needed. The first office was instituted at Srinagar in spring 1867, first as a sub-PO and later as a head-PO, though matters were not formalized until 1871. Essential reading for understanding the early period are two articles in the SG Monthly Journal by Anthony Bard: “The Resident’s Dak 1867-70 Part I & Part II,” Nov. and Dec. 1982. The name “Cashmere” was changed to “Kashmir” on postal material in the spring of 1875.
POST OFFICE CASHMERE + C duplex. The drawing of the duplex on the left, which was taken from Séfi & Mortimer, should show a circle enclosing the obliterator segment, and is otherwise fairly impressionistic. This was the first British postal marking used in Kashmir. It is known from April 1867 to the end of the 1870 visitors’ season on mail leaving the state posted by Europeans resident in Srinagar. Such visitors were allowed a half-rate privilege on the State postage. This mail passed through the Indian hill-town of Murree to the west. The date stamp section was used without date inserts in the 1870 season to obliterate native stamps (image right) on mail lacking British postage. It was also used as an unpaid transit or sorting date-stamp, and is recorded by Anthony Bard in red on two covers dated 29 May 1869 and 5 June 1869.
POST OFFICE CASHMERE with ‘branch’ fleuron at the bottom. This rare marking in red is now attested on only three or four covers, but spread over time from June 1867 (scan above) to at least September 1869. It is not part of a duplex implement.
147 obliterator. This numeral, enclosed in a lozenge or rhombus of horizontal bars, is sighted on a Ladakh cover that passed through Srinagar, Jammu, Sialkot, Lahore, and Nirpoor on 12 October 1867. Where was this obliterator applied? The number 147 is to be contrasted with earlier counterparts 244 and 144 attested at Sialkot in the period before the advent of native stamps. Bard reports the 244 for 1855-59 and the 144 as an error between 1859-60. Jaiswal collection.
A number of important British postmarks make their appearance in April 1871; those at Srinagar in consequence of that office coming under the auspices of the Punjab Circle.
Serifed CASHMERE + 325 duplex. This implement was used between April 1871 to perhaps May 1875. This image, which contains the Kashmir 2a buff, is a detail from a May 1871 cover in the Hellrigl collection. What follows in an instructive fragment bearing on this duplex:
Serifed CASHMERE cds in independent use. The upper strike is of the duplex shown in the preceding entry, but now we also see in the lower strike the simultaneous strike from of a second implement used independently. Date insertions, when present at all, come in both the month-day and day-month formats. The year was discontinued from 1873. The separated cds is attested between the same dates as recorded for the duplex. Reference: T. Mac Gillycuddy and T. Bard, India Post 09, 62 (1975).
Serifed CASHMERE cds in red. One is familiar with Umritsurs, Sealcotes, and Sealkotes coming in a variety of red and orange shades, but not the CASHMEREs. Rare postmark from a cover in the Hellrigl collection.
CASHMERE Triangle. This tds is one of a series of similar markings used in British India, one pertinent to J&Kers being the SEALCOTE version known from 1868. The earliest date for this Srinagar use may be April 1871, the year that the British Office at Srinagar became part of the Punjab Circle. Though very scarce (Eames reports no more than 15-20 recorded) this marking persisted through several years, evidently into 1874 to judge by the drawing in Séfi & Mortimer. It was more often employed as a transit seal, not an obliterator, but it makes a certain ado about missing British postage in both cases. This detail is from a Calcutta-bound cover without British postage, October 1871, in the Hellrigl collection.
It was with the first of the Kashmir duplex implements in spring 1875 that the traditional spelling of old ‘Cashmere’ had assumed its final form, “Kashmir,” which Séfi and descendants tag the Hunterian spelling. In 1884, four years into the New Rectangulars period, a branch office of the Srinagar operation opened at the mountain retreat of Gulmarg.
KASHMIR + 5/L-6 duplex. This combination appeared just before the Special Printings in May 1875 and persisted in service throughout the transitional period and into the New Rectangulars period, perhaps to July 1880. The lettering is large and spacious, with the S and the H more ample and airy compared with later constricted versions in one or both of these letters. There is a dot at the end that is sometimes not visible. A.S. Bard has recorded usages of the obliterator without the cds section. We do not know whether the implement was actually separable or whether the cds was sometimes simply uninked. We have seen examples that look as if the obliterator was indeed used alone, but careful inspection revealed that the cds portion was nevertheless present. We also do not know whether the lack of sufficient ink to make an impression was purposeful or careless.
KASHMIR cds. This independent datestamp is found alongside the duplex type from May 1875. In contrast to the cutting shown above, the S here is more constricted, the M is less symmetrical, and the top of the R is not so wide. Its life was also shorter, lasting only until autumn of 1877, the year of the first transitional oilcolors. Unlike its companion it is therefore not seen on covers bearing New Rectangulars. Both types are to be distinguished from later types after April 1878 that have a noticeably narrower H.
An early dating for the narrow-H KASHMIR cds and the anomalous 1A postage-due seal may be April 1878. Notes in India Post 36 76 2002 and 37 66 2003 alert one to this variety of British postage-due seal for which the last three letters -NNA are missing from the usual ANNA. This seal is (always?) seen to accompany the narrow-H type, but not conversely. So far we have seen only pen-cancelled stamps from this type of cover.
On the left, another example of the Narrow-H KASHMIR cds for contrast with the example on the right, from July 1880. The latter is a cutting with markedly less space between the name and the period. The -I- is also more centrally positioned between the M and R, and the characteristic narrow-H is not quite so narrow; indeed the width of the full name is measurably wider. Neither type is explicitly distinguished from the early broad-H types in Séfi & Mortimer. From late summer of 1882 yet another Kashmir cds without year is reported by A.S. Bard for which the name is still narrower and there is no dot. The next major departure appears in 1884, when year numerals were added to the date line.
KASHMIR with year, beginning perhaps in April 1884. This type will be known for another seven years, into spring 1891 when the 3-rings supplanted them together with much else. The lettering is the smallest yet. Between 1886 and 1890 inclusive, the December inserts read DFC instead of DEC.
The so-far uniquely recorded strike of the British Imperial Office’s name stamp in a relief cutting, including the date inserts. It is based on the standard set of postal markings supplied to other British offices in India. It appeared on a 14 July 1884 visitor’s rate cover to the UK (1a ‘green’ New Rectangular accompanied by 4×1a brown + ½a blue Victorias struck with six strikes of the L barred-oval obliterator BK15). The letter passed through Bombay on 21 July and arrive in Liverpool via Brindisi on 11 Aug 1884. Discovered by Anthony Bard in 2012.
This large diameter curved KASHMIR datestamp was used primarily, as here, on registered mail from January 1886. (Though the date in the first scan might look to be 1885, it is actually an 1886.) The second image was taken from a cover of August 1887. This type, which is not at all common, was superseded in 1889 with a smaller diameter curved KASHMIR REG type.
Curved KASHMIR DELY types in five-line display. The Bard listing cites 1886 for their advent. A REG(istered) version in this small diameter type appeared in spring 1889 [as did as a very rare PAR(cel) type] when the large diameter type was retired after its lengthy if sporadic service.
The R/KASHMIR (known between 1886 and April 1891) and REG type in the smaller diameter circle. The latter is first seen perhaps in April 1889 and will serve together with the 1st and 2nd Delivery types shown above until April 1891 when the KASHMIR designation is replaced by SRINAGAR in both formats (examples below).
Now for the curved SRINAGARS (replacing the curved KASHMIRS). First to be noted is the pure kind shown below, for they also come, scattered downscreen, as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Deliveries, PARcels, and REGistrations.
SRINAGAR arc is known from 22 April 1891 to 190? Reference Bard. Drawing Séfi & Mortimer Type 92.
SRINAGAR + 1ST DELY and 2ND DELY, known between April 1891 and April 1894.
The R/ SRINAGAR registration name cachet, April 1891 to 1900, and the curved SRINAGAR REG is known between April 1891 and 1907. The latter without the REG is known from this time and persists into the twentieth century; evidently rather scarce nonetheless for we have yet to see an example. The type with PAR[cel] is probably more common, next entry:
The SRINAGAR PAR[cel]s are known from April 1891 to sometime early in the 20th century. The left detail is from a cover in the Jaiswal collection; the example on the 5Rp stamp is sometime after November 1895, the stamp’s issue date. The two cuttings are clearly different.
The SRINAGAR Tavi is known in postal use through a three year period, spring 1891-94. But see next:
The SRINAGAR Tavi is the most commonly seen, not least because it was used in bureaucratic fare, which we refer to as non-postal Tavvies. Here, non-postal Tavi-type with Old Kashmir reprints. First our apology for the unhappy hole in the second stamp; we were fighting off dagger-wielding zealots at the time. Séfi and others warn that the SE.4 91 dating is found in the cancellation of New Rectangular remainders, on reprints of Kashmir old rectangulars, as above, as well as on circular reprints.
SRINAGAR in arc cds with a fleuron at base. [Drawing Séfi & Mortimer Type 94.]
Two examples of the curved SRINAGAR 1ST DELY, the first taken from Masson II, the other, a detail from a postcard in the Jaiswal collection. Guy Fawkes day, just after the formal closing of the native posts. British postal markings natually spanned the cross-over date, some lasting well into the twentieth century.
A variety of ► Srinagar 3-ring postmarks were also used contemporaneously with the post-1891 datestamps shown above. We do not know on what basis the one class of marking took precedence over the other.