New Rectangulars of the 3rd Period

From The Postage Stamps of J&K Simplified by Dawson & Smythies, pp 23-29.

During 1878 an entirely new series of stamps for the two Provinces appeared. They consisted of the values ¼a, ½a, 1a, 2a, 4a, and 8a, the plates of the first four being engraved by Rahat Ju, the combined plate for the 4a and 8a being by an unknown engraver.

The stamps are of the same general design, a large, narrow oval band containing the Dogri inscription and enclosing the Persian lettering, which reads Mahsūl dāk Qalmrū Jammūn o Kashmir pāo āna for the ¼a. The other values are expressed as ½a nīmāna, 1a yek āna, 2a do āna, 4a chhār āna, and 8a hasht āna, as before. The unvarying inscription may be translated “Tax Post Government Jammu and Kashmir.” The sun has been removed from the top of the oval band and placed in each of the four corners.

The ¼a and ½a are in plates of fifteen stamps, five rows of three, all engraved separately, of course, as were all the other plates, each stamp distinguishable in many small ways. Anybody wishing to amuse himself with plating these stamps is advised to get complete sheets of the very common black official or service stamps on thin wove paper, of which many hundreds of sheets have survived, and work out plating schemes for himself.

The ½a plate appears to have been made first, it differing as it does somewhat from the plates of the other three low values, and impressions from it in red and slate-blue appeared early in 1878, a few weeks before the remainder of the series came into use. The plate has a plain border 0.5in wide all round, which is printed in solid colour. Through the centre of the top border there was a deep horizontal cut, extending right across, which showed up in the printing as a white line. In the left border is the outline of a tall cross, roughly scratched into the plate, and with a few scratches across the centre, as if an attempt had been made to deface it. Between the stamps there is a crude representation of perforation, appearing as very irregular dots and circles. But the most noteworthy feature of the plate are the numerous rivets with which the plate was fixed onto a wooden bed. The heads of the rivets appear as coloured dots surrounded by narrow white circles, or as white dots. There were three rivets in the top border above the horizontal cut, five down each side, and five in the bottom margin. The plate remained in this its first state, or State I, for only two years, when the upper half of the border was cut away along the horizontal cut, and new rivets inserted, one at each of the two lower corners and elsewhere as well, either in fresh positions or in the old rivet holes. This constitutes State II of the plate, which gave place after another two years to State III, which will be described later.

The ¼a plate also had fifteen stamps, but there are no imitation perforations between the stamps, and around the plate there is a border 4.5 mm wide consisting of white flowers with leaves and stalks between two coloured frame lines. There are no signs of rivets anywhere in this State I of the plate.

The plates for the 1a and 2a are very alike. Each has twenty stamps in five rows of four, and each is surrounded by a 7 mm border of coloured flowers, leaves, and stalks between frame lines. Each plate had six rivets, which appear four above or below the outer corners of the four corner stamps, and two opposite positions #9 and #12. Each rivet appears as a small white dot surrounded by an irregular coloured oval, the two top ovals having an undecipherable Persian word divided in two by the rivet head. These are the States I of the 1a and 2a.

The composite 4a+8a plate was by a different engraver, and the stamps differ considerably in appearance from those of the other four plates. There are two rows of four 4a stamps in the upper pane, then a row of blank spaces the same size as the stamps, and then the lower pane of the 8a. There is a very wide coloured border all round the stamps, and the blank spaces are also in solid colour. The stamps have no frame lines, being separated from each other merely by an imitation perforation, appearing as rows of white dots, which also outline the blank spaces between the stamps. Six small white rivet heads appear in the same relative positions as on the 1a and 2a plates. There were six other rivets of large size, placed far away from the engraved portions of the plate, three in the top border and three in the bottom. This constitutes State I of the plate.

It was originally intended to perforate all values, and for this purpose two ‘harrow’ perforating machines were made, one for the sheets of fifteen stamps of the ¼a and ½a, and one for the twenty-stamp sheets of the 1a and 2a, and the combined 4a and 8a. The first p-erforting machine was seen by Sir David Masson; the implement was in a dilapidated state in the office of the British Indian Accountant-General, Mr E.T. Kiernander, at Srinagar. It consisted of “a flat brass bed with spaces for fifteen stamps. The perforators are fine brass needles, unsharpened, about one-sixteenth of an inch long. There is a brass lid, with hinges and handle broken off, which is said to have completed the machine.” The perforations numbered 10 to 12 in the standard length of 2cm. Little as this machine was used, the second perforator for the 20-stamp sheets was still less used, and it was no longer in existence when Sir David Masson was making his researches at Srinagar. Its perforations measured 13 to 16, but were somewhat cleaner cut, those of the other machine being very rough.

The first stamp of the series to appear, early in 1878, was the ½a, which was issued in two colours, slate and red. A few weeks later there followed the 1a and 2a in shades of purple, violet, or blue, and the ¼a, 1a, and 2a in red, the 4a in this last colour not appearing until the end of 1879. The new stamps were issued in Jammu some four months before they came out in Kashmir. No satisfactory explanation of the issue of three values in two different colours has been forthcoming, perhaps the slate, purple, etc., were experiment; in any case they are somewhat fugitive and inclined to run when the stamp is placed in water, though the pigment did consist of ordinary printers’ inks, as were all the inks of the New Rectangulars (with two exceptions). Owing to their fugitiveness, the shades of the stamps are probably very different now compared with what they were when they came out of the printing presses.

As indicated above, attempts at perforation were given up almost immediate, and the stamps appeared imperforate practically contemporaneously with those perforated. Of the perforated stamps listed below only the ½a red is at all common. Four complete sheets of the ½a slate-violet only are known, while the other varieties are of the greatest rarity. The early ‘blues’ may have been experimental. Collectors are warned to be careful of buying stamps offered as the rare perforated varieties; forged perforations are seen, and only by careful comparison with undoubted genuinely perforated stamps can one be sure of not being imposed upon.

The first printings were made on white European laid paper, medium to thick, with horizontal or vertical lines, watermarked with the papermaker’s device in the centre of the full-sized foolscap sheet. There were several different makes of this laid paper, which is identical with what was used for the last printings of the circular stamps, and, strange to say, for the shahi of Afghanistan of 1872-73. These different makes of laid paper, with their different watermarked devices, are of no particular philatelic interest.

By the middle of 1878, wove paper in two qualities, ordinary medium and very thick, began to be used for the ½a, 1a, and 2a. The ¼a is known on this paper also, but only by two imperforate specimens. The ½a perforated is also a very rare stamp.

One more stamp must be mentioned. The ¼a plate was printed from in ultramarine watercolour on thin laid bâtonné paper in 1880. The stamp is extremely rare unused and rare even used. It appeared in the Kashmir Province only, and the earliest date of use is 04 March 1880. The reasons for this printing in a different colour, in a different kind of ink, and on different paper are quite unknown. A very few copies have been found on thin soft wove paper. Chronicle the Jammu printings:

State I New Rectangulars
1878¼aredlaidpf 10-12
½aredlaidpf 10-12
½aslate-violetlaidpf 10-12
1aredlaidpf 13-16
1abright violetlaidpf 13-16
1abright violetlaidimperf
1adull purplelaidimperf
1adull purplesoft thin laidimperf proof?
2adull purplesoft thin laidimperf proof?
2abright violetlaidimperf
2a(dull) bluelaidimperf
1878-80½aredmedium wove10-12
½aredmedium woveimperf
¼aredmedium woveimperf
1aredmedium woveimperf
2aredmedium woveimperf
½aredthick woveimperf
1aredthick woveimperf
2aredthick woveimperf
½aredthin greyish wovepf 10-12
½aredthin greyish woveimperf
¼aredthin greyish woveimperf
1aredthin greyish woveimperf
2aredthin greyish woveimperf
4aredthin greyish woveimperf
8aredthin greyish woveimperf
Mar 1880¼aultramarine waterthin laid bâtonnéimperf
?4aredcoarse yellowish woveimperf
?8aredcoarse yellowish woveimperf

The State I watercolour, sometimes called the Srinagar Provisional, seems to have been actually printed at Srinagar—its earliest known use is 04 March 1880. The last two stamps listed in the table were not issued for several years after they were printed.

The ordinary laid and wove papers were soon given up for a thin wove paper, in several different qualities but all rather poor, which continued to be used until the State posts were closed in 1894. This paper can be divided into three main varieties: (i) Fine smooth greyish toned; (ii) coarse rough yellowish toned, and (iii) fine, pure white. Later, yellow- and green-dyed semi-pelure papers were adopted exclusively for the 2a value. The thin wove papers bore an embossed device, in plain relief, at one corner of each full-sized foolscap sheet, and these devices sometimes appear on the stamps. They appear to have been the papermakers’ controls. There are four varieties:

A small transverse oval containing the year of manufacture, surrounded by a scroll-work design.

A plain double-lined oval 19 mm long, containing a design of an elephant with howdah.

As preceding in an oval 22 mm long.

A prancing horse, without any frame. This is known on a single stamp only, a ½a red on thin wove paper.

All six values appeared in red on the thin fine toned wove paper of a somewhat bluish tinge from 1878 to 1880, the first to be printed thereon being the ½a, perforated, which came out in May 1878, and was used only in Jammu.

While these printings were in progress in 1880-81, the five plates were refixed more firmly in their beds either by additional rivets or by screws, as follows:

The ¼a plate had a screw inserted at each of the four corners of the plate, in the flowered border. These usually appear as large white circles, just encroaching on the corners of the four corner stamps. This is State II of the plate.

The ½a had the top half of its solid colour top border cut off and fresh rivets inserted, as mentioned before, constituting its State II.

The 1a and 2a had four large screws inserted in the two side flowered borders, opposite stamps #1, #4, #17, and #20. In the later printings the marks made by the heads of these screws broke the outer frame line of these four stamps. These are States II of the 1a and 2a plates.

The combined 4a+8a plate had six large screws inserted, four in the outer corners of the first and last of the 4a stamps in the top row and the first and last of the 8a stamps in the bottom row, and two in the middle of the outer vertical imitation perforation dotted lines, half way between the two blocks of 4a and 8a stamps. This is State II of this plate.

No further changes were made in the plates for the rest of the time they were in use except for the ½a, which took on its State III early in 1884. The other values continued in their States II. It is noteworthy that the screws show not the slightest change in their position during all the years that the plates were used in their States II. The red stamps on thin wove appeared in the following states of their plates: The ¼a, ½a, and 1a in States I and II. The 2a 4a, and 8a in State I only. Round or about July 1881, the red gave place to orange as the standard colour for all values, which are found in this colour in their second plate states only. The impressions are generally oily, and whereas the shade of the four lower values is more or less a pure orange, that of the 4a and 8a is usually a pale and dingy brownish-orange. The ½a orange is found perforated 10-12, but it is an excessively rare stamp. It represents the last attempt at perforation. Chronicle the Srinagar- printed New Rectangulars.

State II New Rectangulars
1881¼aredthin wovesimperf
½aredsthin wovesimperf
1aredthin wovesimperf
1881-83½aorangethin wovepf 10-12
½aorangethin woveimperf
¼aorangethin woveimperf
1aorangethin woveimperf
2aorangethin woveimperf
4adull orangethin woveimperf
8adull orangethin woveimperf

The ½a red was bisected diagonally at Leh in April 1883, and each half used as a ½a stamp. This bisection was authorised by the British Indian Post Office authorities at Leh to meet a temporary shortage of ½a stamps. Later on the 1a orange was similarly bisected for the same reason. The genuine bisects show the postmark of the large capital L in a square composed of eight thick horizontal bars. Although the red and orange stamps ceased to be printed during 1883, large quantities of all values in both colours, except the ¼a orange, were issued between 1890 and 1894, and used side by side with the distinctive 1883-94 issues. In fact these stamps are commonly seen with the three-circle postmarks introduced in December 1890. The old stamps used thus are known as reissues. It is certain that no fresh printings were made in the old colours. The original use of these stamps can be told by their showing one or other of the old obliterations.

Sheets of the red and orange stamps (as also the black Service stamps) can be found with an impression of the side border of another value, in different positions, right way up or inverted. Séfi and Mortimer deduce that two plates, lying side by side in the same wooden frame or bed, were printed from simultaneously, but no example of sheets of two different values printed on the same piece of paper is known. The plates were lying side by side in the bed, and some of the ink of the plate being printed from got onto the side border of the plate alongside.

► New Rectangulars of the Fourth Period.

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