General Outline

From The Postage Stamps of J&K Simplified by Dawson & Smythies, pp 1-5.

Of all the Indian Feudatory States the postage stamps of Jammu and Kashmir only have at any time had anything like a universal appeal to collectors. In the eighties and nineties of the last century [but one] the circular and early rectangular stamps were much sought after, being ranked amongst the ‘classics’. Especially were the ‘Die I’ circulars prized, as much as £50 having been paid for a specimen of what are now known to be forgeries. Then, just about forty years ago came the slump. Very large quantities of reprints and forgeries came upon the market, collectors were bewildered and unable to disinguish the good from the bad, and the popularity of these stamps went down with a bump, from which they have never recovered.

Sir David Masson wrote the first handbook on Jammu and Kashmir, which was published by the Philatelic Society of India in two parts in 1900-01. He exposed the true nature of the ‘Die I’ circulars, as a consequence of which they were removed from Stanley Gibbons’ catalogue. Two years previously he had questioned the genuineness of the Missing Die circulars in the Philatelic Journal of India. Articles on these stamps by Major Evans appeared in Stanley Gibbons’ Monthly Journal during 1901-03. In the meanwhile, in 1898-1900, a fierce controversy had raged in Volumes II to IV of the Philatelic Journal of India over the status of the huge stock of remainders of the old circular and rectangular stamps that were being sold by the Rev. Father C.B. Simons of the Baramula Mission, who had been appointed the sole Agent for the sale of all the stamps still lying in the State treasuries. These were eventually proved to be practically all reprints and forgeries, only the New Rectangular remainders being genuine originals. These exposures, and the difficulty of the ordinary collector, not versed in Indian scripts, in distinguishing between genuine and forged stamps, and often between genuine watercolours and reprinted oil colours as well, gave a knock-out blow to these really most interesting stamps. Even nowadays the collector who thinks of taking up Jammu and Kashmir opens his Gibbons and sees various warning notes about forgeries, reprints in numerous fancy colours, and ‘imitations’, while no hint is given how to distinguish oilcolours from watercolours, and decides that such stamps are much too difficult and present too many pit-falls for him.

For many years the late Mr C.H. Mortimer had been gathering together his immense collection, in 26 large albums, of Jammu and Kashmir stamps. He had bought Sir David Masson’s collection and another very fine one formed by Mr A.J. Séfi, and he and Mr Séfi proceeded to write a great handbook on this State. Mr Mortimer died in 1932 and Mr Séfi followed him to the grave just two years later. In this year, 1937, the handbook has at last been produced under the editorship of Mr P.L. Pemberton, who was Mr Séfi’s partner in their stamp business. This work, which is the last word on these stamps, can be properly appreciated only by the enthusiastic specialist; it is too advanced and costly (price 3 guineas) for the general collector. Its publication would, however, seem to be a suitable occasion for the appearance in the Philatelic Journal of India of a series of articles giving an account of the Jammu and Kashmir postage stamps, written entirely for the genral collector and semi-specialist, with the view to inducing others to take up the collection and study of these stamps. Hence the title of these articles; the study is ‘simplified’, as far as possible, a special point being made of the distinguishing marks by which the circular oilcolours can be separated from watercolours, originals from reprints, and genuine stamps from forgeries. There are very great rarities or varieties about which there is doubt of their ever having been official issued. These stamps can be ignored by the general collector, who will also of course keep out of his albums the various proofs, reprints and forgeries. He will not take any notice, either, of the different states of the New Rectangular plates, which require complete sheets for proper study. Thus, out of a total of twelve chapters in this work, only six (i.e., sections 01, 03, 05, 07, 08, 09) deal with genuine stamps, and the remaining six deal with the early seals (02), reprints and forgeries (04, 06, 10, 11), and postmarks (12). The information given generally in this series of articles is based on the following:

(1) Several years intensive research by the joint authors, who have had the opportunity to study two of the greatest collections of Jammu-Kashmir ever made, i.e., the Ferrari-Hind and Mortimer, as well as various smaller collections.

(2) The Séfi-Mortimer book of 1937.

(3) Major Evans’ articles in Stanley Gibbons’ Monthy Journal.

(4) The Masson book of 1900-01. This excellent little work has long been out of print, but fortunately most of the half-tone blocks of its illustrations have been preserved by the Philatelic Society of India, and as it is not possible to improve on these, we have used them extensively to illustrate this series of articles, thereby materially reducing the cost.

When the publication of these articles in the Philatelic Journal of India is completed, a certain number of the complete series (with the illustrations) will be reprinted and bound, and made available for sale at a low price. If this little publication succeeds in removing some of the difficulties that beset the ordinary collector and semi-specialist in the study of the stamps of Jammu-Kashmir, its purpose will be achieved.

General Outline

For a period of 28½ years, this Himalayan Indian State, which consists of two separate provinces, Jammu and Kashmir, issued its own local stamps, the first issue being made in March or April 1866 (Samvat 1923). [Copyist’s note: The currently accepted early date is 23 March 1866.] All local issues were withdrawn on 1st November 1894, when the Imperial Indian Government took over the whole postal administration of the State.

The stamps of this country have the reputation of being very complicated and difficult, but this is due chiefly to sidelines, experiments, superfluous printings, reprints and forgeries, and similar offshoots. The main issues are perfectly straight-forward and simple and can be summarised as follows [with current SG numbering]:

YearsDieColourSG#
1866-67J&K circular½a grey-black water1
J&K circular1a grey-black water4
J&K circular1a ultramarine water3a
J&K circular1a indigo watern/a
J&K circular4a grey-black water6
J&K circular4a ultramarine water5a
J&K circularindigo water7
1868-77Kashmir rect¼a black water90
Kashmir rect½a blues water91-2
Kashmir rect1a oranges water94-6
Kashmir rect2a yellows water97-8
Kashmir rect4a greens water99-100a
Kashmir rect8a reds water101
Jammu rect½a+1a red/orange water60-65
Jammu circ½a,1a,4a red/orange water8-13b
Jammu rect½a+1a reds oil70-73
Jammu circ½a,1a,4a reds oil26-8,38-40,49
1878-83J&K plates6 values various ink101b-136
1883-94J&K platesvarious 7 various ink138-168

Contemporaneous with the third and fourth periods, and printed with the same plates, are the official stamps in their distinctive colour—black. SGO1-O18, formerly SG169-85.

That is the complete and simple framework of the Kashmir issues, easy to understand and easy to remember. From this straightforward series, however, certain complications were introduced in the Second Period, which can be summarised as follows:

DatesImplementColour2007 SG#
1866Kashmir rect½a black water87
1867Kashmir rect½a+1a black water88-89
Jammu rect½a+1a black water52-53
1867-68Kashmir rect½a+1a blues water91,93
Jammu rect½a+1a blues water54-59
1874-77Jammu circ½a,1a,4a deep black water14-16
Jammu rect½a+1a deep black water69a,b
Jammu circ½a,1a,4a bright blue water17-19
Jammu rect½a+1a bright blue water66-67
Jammu circ½a,1a,4a emerald-green water20-22
Jammu rect½a+1a emerald-green water68-69
Jammu circ½a,1a,4a bright yellow water23-25
1877-78Jammu circ½a black oil29,41
Jammu rect½a+1a black oil74-75
Jammu rect½a+1a deep blue-black oil76-77
Jammu circ½a,1a,4a reds oil26-28,38-39,49
Jammu rect½a+1a reds oil70-73,78-85
1877-78Jammu circ½a,1a,4a slate-blue oil32,34,44-46
Jammu circ½a,1a,4a sage-green oil35-37,47
Jammu circ½a yellow oil48

[Copyist’s note: For the following four numbered paragraphs alone, we depart from our usual practice of using the current SG catalogue numbers. The following refer to the 1937 edition. Currently the range 26 to 37 in SG contains only nine stamps, the two high-value blacks and the 4a slate-blue having been eliminated:]

(1) These 11 entries are unknown either used or unused: 27, 30, 31, 33, 36, 42, 43, 78, 79, 81, 83. The first five of these are known as reprints and are fairly common thus.

(2) These are unknown used: 15, 16, 18, 24, 25, 40, 47.

(3) These are rarer than the ‘Post Office’ Mauritius: 2, 6, 7, 51a, 65, 80, 82, 84, 85, 47.

(4) The three items 49, 50, 51 should be deleted from the catalogue as there is no real distinction between them and 41, 39, 46, respectively.

In mounting and writing up our collections of this country we have found it much simpler and clearer to depart from Gibbons’ catalogue order, and to adopt the order and classification given above, and in this attempt to write an account of “Jammu and Kashmir simplified,” we propose for the same reason to follow the chronological order herein adopted.

One of our principal objects will be to enable the general collector to distinguish with fair certainty between forgeries and reprints and the originals they imitate (knowledge which many—if not most—dealers apparently do not possess at present), for we believe that the popularity of this fascinating country will soon return if collectors have the necessary confidence in what they are acquiring.

► Pre-stamp Seals.

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