Sialkot Postal Markings

Sealkote Types    Sialkot Types    City Types

The Sialkot markings on this page are British, and thus stand apart from two markings of Jammu State that were used at Sialkot during the first decade of the New Rectangulars period. These were the Sialkot Duplex and an accompanying postage-due seal, which were both rendered in native character. Whether the early Jamvu Circle, also in native character, was used at Sialkot in its earliest usage is under investigation. The three types in question are shown among the ► Native markings.

The ancient name of Sialkot was Sāgala, which was occupied for a time by Indo-Greeks, late of Bactria. The ‘Sial-’ prefix is probably the echo of the ancient name, where the g goes missing in a standard way. The -kot means fortification. One theory preferred by some locals is that the fort was founded by a certain Raja Salban of the Sia caste.

The pronunciation “Shall Kote” is corroborated by the sometime explicit use in Persian of the triple dotting on the initial.

During our postal period, Sialkot was in British Punjab. Sialkot and Jammu are only some 27 miles apart; on clear days their higher vantage points are visible to the other. Sialkot was always the larger center. According to the 1891 census, Jammu had a population of some 36,000 residents, Sialkot about 55,000 (ref. Constable Hand Atlas 1893). As there was no British PO at Jammu until 1889 (when the railway extension shown on the map finally reached it), the cross-border mail had been handled by the British exchange offices at Sialkot and Sialkot City. Sialkot also hosted what was in effect an extra-territorial office for the State. There are overt postal markings attesting to the fact, namely a postage due seal and a duplex obliterator (both pictured on the Native Markings page 1878-79).

Sealkote Decade 1866-1876

The Sealkote office was #54. The station at Simla was #55, but examples of Simla and Kashmir postal connections are unaccountably (?) scarce given that British officialdom involved with Kashmir often took leave at Simla. The celebrated Edwardian railroad to Simla was constructed only after our period.

British curved SEALKOTE+54 duplex and the Srinagar seal cancelling the 1a royal blue watercolor. The (separable?) duplex was in use between June 1865 in the pre-stamps period into perhaps early September 1867. The 54 must be distinguished from early and late species used with different datestamps: a scarce pre-stamps version known from 1864 can be seen in the Bard Papers on site, and there is a ringed-54 known from 1868. The detail shown above is from a 1 April cover in the Hellrigl Collection. The Victoria stamp is the ½a blue Die I, 1865, wmkd elephant head.

SEALKOTE Open-Circle cds in two cuttings, one in black (despatch or transit) and in red (usually for arrival or transit) from mid-August to the end of the year. The 1AS means “1 anna[s]” [reference Bard.] The example in red is a detail from a Jammu-to-Amritsar cover in the Jaiswal collection that included the following obliterator:

Diamond of Dots (99) obliterator. This British obliterator was applied by the Sialkot City Mail Agency, as opposed to the Sialkot Exchange Office itself (reference Bard). The image is a detail from a cover in the Jaiswal collection that included the preceding open-circle datestamp. W. Hellrigl reports also a late strike of the diamond in blue for September 1869.

The U-26 obliterator. This implement, used by the Sialkot City Mail Agency, persisted in sporadic use for about two years starting perhaps in November 1866 to December 1868, when it also appears in violet. The marking is significantly wider than it is tall. This image is from a detail of an 1867 cover in the Hellrigl collection. This type is not to be confused with a redrawn U-26 obliterator (downscreen) of squarer shape surrounded by a circle seen in November 1870, where it is found in duplex with a rare serifed SEALCOTE CITY datestamp in arc.

Serifed SEALCOTE and SEALKOTE datestamps. The C-type datestamp was known already in the pre-stamp period and will outlive its K-type partner by as much as three years. The C-type (there are different cuttings) is reported to be of the Sialkot Exchange Office while the K-type is of the Sialkot City Mail Agency. Both types are found sharing the same cover from October 1866 in shades of red, oranges, and finally black. Reports differ substantially about dates. There are also different cuttings. The basic type is found in duplex use with a circled-54 obliterator. The K-type is assumed gone sometime in the summer of 1871, though we repeat a rumor of May 1872. The horizontal unserifed SEALKOTE + L-3 duplex supplanted the C-type in July 1874.

The Serifed SEALCOTE + 54 duplex. This implement is known from spring 1868 and is attested to as late as perhaps February 1874. The image is a detail from an April 1868 cover in the Hellrigl collection. The cutting of the SEALCOTE part is slightly different from its kin shown above; we call them the ‘near-O’ and ‘far-O’ types.

The SEALCOTE triangle. This marking is known from July 1868 into the spring of 1870. This type, which was used on covers lacking British postage, had no overlap with its later counterpart in the CASHMERE triangle, which came into use at Srinagar (spring 1871) after Kashmir was admitted to the Punjab Circle. There are several other triangles of this type, Ferozepur for example. The red-orange shown above is a detail from a January 1869 cover in the Hellrigl collection. Séfi & Mortimer record the type only for February 1870, so it must be a rather scarce marking.

The Serifed SEALCOTE CITY cds in arc + circled U/26 obliterator, rare. The cds (alone?) is reported also for June 1872 by Séfi. The much more prevalent unserifed type is known only from years later, late 1877.

The Horizontal SEALKOTE Type I + L-3 duplex. Perhaps July 1874. The implement was of the separable type, and the L-3 obliterator section stayed on for many years in other employment with other date stamps when this cds and other cuttings like it disappeared toward the end of 1876. Reports take the obliterator to as late as summer 1880.

The Horizontal SEALKOTE Type II. This beautiful strike in a different cutting shows a usage independent of an obliterator. This is from a Jammu-Calcutta cover for August 1875.

The Horizontal SEALKOTE Type III, possibly from September 1874. This variant is easily distinguished by its larger lettering and by the shape of the S, which nudges the circle. Another features is the anomalously short L. This type did not supersede the earlier, and both are known in contemporaneous action to the end of 1876.

Séfi & Mortimer report that one or another of these cuttings also occurs with 1st or 2nd delivery notation, which must be decidedly scarce, indeed hard to imagine. They are not mentioned in the Bard papers. Such, however, are known for the later “Sialkot” types, and perhaps the reference to such types in their “Sealkote” discussion was inadvertently to those.

Sialkot Markings 1877-94

The old spelling SEALKOTE gives way to SIALKOT in March 1877. The separable L-3 obliterator, which made its appearance years ago in 1874 with SEALKOTE date stamps, continues its labors into this new period, and will be seen with several of the SIALKOT date stamps until summer 1880.

Transit SIALKOT and TOO LATE Seals, ca. 1878. The latter are attested, if rarely, obliterating stamps with crossed strikes. There are different cuttings.

The Horizontal SIALKOTs. To facilitate comparison, different cuttings overlapping a span of years are shown here together. The item at the top is here undated as to year. The lower three are, left to right: December 1877, January 1878 and January 1879. We have seen the middle variety from as early as 6 April 1877 and it may actually antedate the first. The example on the right exhibits a more tightly set lettering in the SIA- as well as the small base to the L, which makes for a noticeable difference in the distance between the uprights of the L and K. The kind is persistent into 1884, when it is augmented with the REG[istered] version:

The REG[istered] is known from March 1884 to possibly the following spring when it was superseded by the same type with year date showing. Neither type is listed in Séfi. The stamp is the 4as registration rate stamp from the New Rectangulars composite plate.

The 1.DELY SIALKOT, without year-date. A relatively scarce type, seemingly in the way of an experiment, that probably persisted for only a year or so in the 1879-80 period. There is another cutting reported, possibly summer 1880. Well, definitely July, and possibly 1880. The example here is a detail from a cover that contained the Srinagar L-bar, which is seen only after June 1880.

The 2.DELY SIALKOT without year-date (two examples from September 1879 and January 1880.) This type is not mentioned explicitly in Séfi and Mortimer.

The curved SIALKOTs. According to Séfi, the first (smallest) of these appeared in the spring of 1884, and a number of other types emerge through the years. Good date ranges for some of them are elusive; indeed year-dates are occasionally missing from some of them.

There are three basic sizes. Victoria’s image can be used as a handy scale of reference. The middle-sized type is about 11% taller than the brown postcard stamp, while the large-size is about 15% larger, about the diameter of the green Victoria postal stationery embossments.

Small Diameter. REG[istration] and Delivery versions are not mentioned explicitly by Séfi & Mortimer (though they may have mentioned the latter mistakenly in their discussion of the earlier Sealkote types). Two different cuttings of the 1st Delivery type can be seen on the Foljambe correspondence in March and April 1885 [Ref. G. Harell India Post 40 73 (2006).] A 2nd delivery type may exist.

Medium Diameter. Notice too the bald-patch L-bar obliterator, known so far between April 1887 and February 1890. These come in different cuttings, not all of them definitely assignable to Sialkot. Another example can be seen downscreen.

Large Diameter. Different cuttings exist for both the narrow-setting type (left) and for the wider-setting type (right). They were used concurrently, sometimes two on the same cover.

Here is a cutting of the large circle with even smaller lettering, from a cover dating 15 April 1887 at Sialkot. The obliteration on the 1a ‘green’ New Rectangular is that of a bald L-bar type (we know because it was struck several times more on the same cover.)

A number of newer curved Sialkots appeared in the months before the closing of the native posts. These scans are taken from Séfi & Mortimer. The lettering on these schematic drawings is not to be overly relied upon as to detail.

Before we forget it, the Sialkot Registration Seal, from autumn 1887, helping with some of the stamp-obliteration labors at the office.

CITY Types

“City” stands for Sialkot City Mail Agency. It was from this branch office of Sialkot that the U/26 obliterator was employed in the early period, late 1866 to late 1868. Anthony Bard notes that all mail from Jammu was routed through this office between Nov 1877 and Feb 1878.

Serifed SEALCOTE CITY in curve + U/26 obliterator (redrawn) is attested from 5 November 1870 to 14 August 1871. Reference Bard. The two drawings are from Séfi & Mortimer, their Types 56 and 57.

The Curved SIALKOT CITY, unserifed, no year date included. This type is known for about three months between November 1877 (ref. Bard) and February 1878, as seen here. This cds was sometimes accompanied by ...

...the L-3/8 obliterator for the Sialkot City Mail Agency, chronicled by Anthony Bard under number BSC5, and by Séfi & Mortimer by Type 59 (whence the accompanying drawing above). The central line, L-3 is for Sialkot proper, the disbursing office, and the 8 in the lower set of (two, not three) bars signifies the City branch.

The Curved SIALKOT.CITY, unserifed, year date included, here September 1886. It is of smaller diameter, as compared with the earlier, yearless, type shown above.

The Horizontal SIALKOT CITY, unserifed. Date-range here unknown. Drawing is Séfi & Mortimer’s, their Type 60.

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