Papermakers’ Embossment

Animal and date embossments are occasionally found in the paper of the New Rectangular stamps. These were done by the manufacturers of the paper and as such are not really part of the stamp production process itself. They are reported on the thin toned woves, the later thin laid papers (Partap issue), and the late bright white, but not on the tinted semi-pelure papers, which may have been too thin to bear the treatment. As it happens, ¼-anna examples predominate in our small sampling, but all denominations are said to occur.

The embossment ovals invariably occur on the corner stamps of a sheet, both erect and inverted with respect to the stamp impressions. The embossment is often clearer from the back of a sheet.

The Beasties

This “small elephant” in oval (major axis < 18 mm) has what we take to be crossed swords under a dias or pedestal in the lower part of the oval. There is a ‘howdah’ on the elephant’s back and a rider (with armed raised) at the elephant’s shoulder.

The slightly-larger “medium elephant” in oval (major axis ~19 mm). The distance between the top of the howdah and the top of the oval is noticeable less here than in the preceding. It appears (matter pending) that the pedestal and crossed-swords are absent here.

The still larger “large elephant” in oval (major axis ~22 mm). There is a rider, howdah, perhaps a small village, on the poor beast.

Another glimpse of the[?] large-elephant type

A rare unicorn has also been sighted (ref Staal, p. 115, reporting on the discovery by Dan Walker). This specimen was offered in the Haverbeck auction (Lot 1478) as existing on the ½a red on thin wove paper, on the top left corner of the plate, and thus exhibiting explicitly the state I condition of the plate. There is also rumor of an elusive prancing horse (assuming it is not a unicorn). It is reported [reference?] unframed on a ½a red on thin wove paper.

The Year Types

The earliest control date is 1877, i.e., on paper manufactured at least a year before their advent. The year 1877 was in fact the date of the stamp-printing establishment at Jammu of the new Ranbir Prakash press. It is interesting that thin wove paper was available at such an early time, a time when paper experiments had just started on Old Jammu stamps with European laids. Thin woves are indeed known (“anomalously”) during the early New Rectangular regime; more surprising is that there were not more of them, since the paper stock was long available and the thin woves were ultimately to triumph.

1877. This embossment was upside-down in the lower-right corner of a sheet of ¼a reds on thin wove paper, which is understood to be an 1879 Jammu printing.

The embossment ovals containing year dates attested by Séfi & Mortimer are 1877, 1878, 1879, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1888, and 1891. An 8as official in the thin laid paper (Pratap issue) been seen with an 1884 date embossment, which antedates the usually-cited date, 1887, of their issue. Again, older paper stock was presumably being used in a later printing of the stamps. Still the observation encourages one to be on the alert for Prataps in pre-1887 postal use.

Reporting of an 1885, a year missed in the Séfi & Mortimer chronicle. This control mark appears on a ¼a black official sheet on coarse, yellow-toned thin wove paper. Five other dates are yet to be spied: 1880, 1886, 1887, 1889, and 1890.

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