The Jammu Circulars of the 2nd Period

From The Postage Stamps of J&K Simplified by Dawson & Smythies, pp 9-12.

The printing of the circular stamps was discontinued in 1867 upon the issue of two sets of rectangular stamps, one for each Province, but they were, in 1869, reissued in red colours adopted by that time for the stamps of Jammu Province, for use in that Province only, and continuied to be printed and used along with the Jammu rectangular stamps until both went out of use in 1878 with the introduction of the New Rectangular stamps. Reds, with digressions into orange-reds or even pure orange, was the standard colour for Jammu until the introduction of the oilcolour stamps in 1877.

The red watercolour rectangulars are the commonest of all Jammu stamps both used and unused, but used red circulars are rare. Of the original letters bearing these stamps seen by Séfi and Mortimer, none was dated in the years 1869, 1870, 1874, and from 1876 onwards, and the remaining years could show only one cover each. Hence it appears that the red and orange-red circulars were printed only as required to supplement the ½a and 1a rectangulars, which could not be printed in very large numbers from the one small plate of four stamps.

Jammu Red Watercolours
½abright reds1874
1abright reds1874
4abright reds1869

[Copyist’s note: The final column shows the 2007 SG dating in which the 4a specimens are deemed relatively early. A ½a orange is also attested, date unknown. Dawson-Smythies add that the true 4a orange is known by a single used example. It is unpriced in SG.]

The next circular stamps to appear are known as the Special Printings of 1874-76. The three values were printed in shiny jetblack, brightblue, brightemerald, and brightyellow, all watercolours. The production of such fancy colours, contemporaneously with the standard red and orange-red can only be accounted for by the statement made to Mr Stewart Wilson by a Member of the Kashmir State Council, who had been in charge of the Stamp Department during 1874-77, which was to the effect that, after 1874 at any rate, the printer was in the habit of fulfilling orders from Europe and America for the supply of both circulars and old rectangulars “in various colours and on various papers.” After completing these orders, he would continue printing off stamps until his day’s work was over, such surplus stamps being added to the stock of normal red stamps in the post offices, and issued along with them to the public (vide PJI, Vol.IV, pp 49-51). The Jammu rectangulars, however, are not known printed in the yellow, which was exclusive to the circulars. Why dealers wanted green and yellow stamps has not been satisfactorily explained.

The jet-black and bright blue stamps can easily be distinguished from the grey-black and ultramarine (usually dull) of the 1866 printings. The inks of all these four colours are brilliant, and usually stand out in lumps on the paper.

The 1a black and 4a black are not known used, nor are the 4a brightblue, 1a yellow, and 4a yellow. The three emeralds were all used, though few are known in this state; the ½a brightblue, 1a brightblue, and ½a yellow are of the greatest rarity in used condition. The yellow stamps are the scarcest unused. The chronicle of the Jammu-printed watercolour Special Printing Circulars on native paper for 1874-76 is:

Special Printing Circulars
½ajet-blackknown used
½abright blueknown used
1abright blueknown used
4abright blue
½abright emeraldknown used
1abright emeraldknown used
4abright emeraldknown used
½abright yellowknown used
1abright yellow
4abright yellow
4adeep blue-blackknown used

One last stamp must be mentioned. This is an extremely rare printing in the 4a deep blue-black—almost indistinguishable from pure black—which appeared in 1876. All the known specimens, nine in number, are used, cancelled with the black square seal of Jammu. [Copyist’s note: SG registers a price in unused condition.]

This concludes the circular watercolour stamps. It will be noted that with the exception of the original circulars of 1866, all are rare or even altogether unknown used, showing that the rectangulars formed by far the bulk of the stamps issued to the public.

During the last two years of the life of the circular stamps many highly-debatable varieties appeared, all printed in oilcolour, first on native, and then on European laid paper. At the same time the Jammu rectangulars were also printed in oilcolour, thus continuing the simultaneous printings of circular and rectangular stamps noted before. There is no doubt about the rectangulars having been legitimately printed for, and issued to, the public, though none of these varieties is at all common, but the circular oils are in a different category, as there is much controversy as to whether all the twelve varieties on native paper catalogued by Gibbons (Nos. 26 to 37) were printed at the time such stamps were current. [Copyist’s note: The range 26 to 37 in SG now contains only nine stamps, the two high-value blacks and the 4a slate-blue having been eliminated.] Perhaps some were not printed till after the circulars went out of use (along with contemporary Jammu Rectangulars and Kashmir Old Rectangulars) and were merely for sale to dealers and collectors, thus coming under the head of Reprints. The same stamps on European laid paper have been assumed by all specialists in Jammu and Kashmir to be genuinely issued stamps. All the evidence goes to show that no reprints on European laid paper were ever made. However, several varieties on both papers are not known authentically used on cover, and these have been noted by Séfi and Mortimer.

Before going on to the consideration of the different varieties of these oilcolour circulars, let us be quite sure that we can distinguish oil from watercolour. The watercolours used for Jammu and Kashmir stamps and prepared locally are all extremely soluble in water; such stamps must not be allowed to get the slightest moisture onto them. Used stamps are generally found with the colour badly run. The colour is usually shiny, and stands out in lumps on the paper into which it does not penetrate; the oilcolour by contrast sinks into the paper, leaving a dullish flat surface, the colour being plainly seen at the back of the stamp. Oilcolour stamps are not damaged by water. It must be remembered that all circulars on European laid paper are oilcolours; the only difficulty lies between the water and oilcolours on the native paper. But the shades of the red, blue, and green oilcolours are totally different from those of the watercolours, the oils being dull red, slate-blue and sage-green, all very dull compared with the brilliant watercolours. The two black series are more difficult to distinguish, but the black oils have nothing of the bright appearance of the jet-black watercolours.

But the great difficulty about these stamps is to distinguish between original stamps and reprints. The latter are all oilcolours, and appear on both the native paper and on thin wove European paper. It is only the former reprints, of course, that are dangerous, as the original stamps were never printed on any sort of European wove paper. We shall have more to say about these and other reprints later on.

The chronicle of these first circular oilcolours, printed in Jammu in 1877 on native paper, is as follows:

Oilcolor Circulars on Native Paper
½adull black
½aslate blue
1aslate blue
½adull red
1adull red

[Copyist’s note: Current listings also include specimens in the 4a red oilcolor and 4a sage-green oilcolor.] Séfi and Mortimer state that no used copy of a 4a stamp in any of the four colours or of a 1a black has been seen by them, although these varieties have been catalogued for many years, and from none to five unused specimens of the same five stamps that can be definitely stated to be originals and not reprints. Originals are all more or less badly smudged, whereas the undoubted reprints are very clearly printed. Séfi and Mortimer nevertheless state their opinion that all the slate-blue stamps seen by them are originals, as also all the ½a sage-green, and so consider that these four stamps were not reprinted. The doubtful four 4a stamps and the 1a black are not nearly as well printed as the undoubted reprints, besides being very similar in shade to the undoubted originals in the other values. Perhaps these five stamps were printed a bit later, not along with the undoubted originals, but still earlier than the reprints prepared in 1879 and onwards. They may be contemporaneous with the same colours on European laid paper. The 4a in all four colours, and the 1a black must be looked upon as being very doubtful original stamps, and not really deserving places in the catalogue. There is no reason to suppose that the 4a slate-blue is an original, while the other three 4 annas are reprints.

To sum up, the ½a dull black, ½a dull red, ½a sage-green, 1a dull red, and 1a sage-green may be safely accepted as originals when the oilcolour is very smudgily applied; the ½a slate-blues and 1a slate-blues may be accepted generally, if not always, as originals, and the remaining five stamps as reprints, without exception.

Finally, there appeared a number of circular stamps on medium to thick European laid paper. These, as noted before, are all accepted as being originals. Chronicle for Jammu only 1877-78 in oilcolour on European laid paper, watermarked with the paper maker’s trade-mark in the sheet:

Oil-Colour Circulars on Laid Paper
½adull black
½adull red
½adull red*
1adull red
4adull red

[Copyist’s note: The item marked with the * is on ‘sugar wove’ paper. The 1a dull red has been eliminated from the SG listing.] The 1a dull red and the 1a sage-green (of which about twelve copies only are known) have not been found used, and the other values are much more common unused than used. There is a curious violet shade of the slate-blue stamps, in which several distinct shades can be found. These stamps appear to have been mainly made for dealers and collectors.

One last stamp [already include in the table preceding] must be mentioned, the very few copies of which are known all used and mostly on original letters, namely the ½a dull red printed in April 1878 in oilcolour on thick brownish wove ‘sugar’ paper.

► Jammu Rectangulars.

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