The “missing-die” forgeries (ca. 1890) were imitations of six stamp designs, namely the triplet of circulars and a triplet of Kashmir rectangulars (2a, 4a, 8a). Not done were the First Kashmir plate or the ¼a denomination of the Visitors’ plate. All are in oilcolor on diverse papers.
As the traditional story has it, larcenous insiders in the post office who had access to the authentic printing implements had long been printing stamps, mostly in odd colors on odd papers, to replace authentic, though obsolete, stock being sold off surreptitiously to collectors. This printing would be the Reprints stock that so plagues the game. When the authentic dies had for some reason become unavailable to them, they created a second set for continuing the ruse. The day eventually came when both sets were wanted by officialdom for defacement. It is sometimes contended that the officials thought there actually were two legitimate sets of dies. But the bogus implements were nowhere to be had, as in “missing.” Col. Godfrey is reported to have destroyed thousands of these forgeries, yet some varieties are still very plentiful.
A bit of archival material in Masson’s hand describing the circular missing-die forgeries. It is notable that he asserts, “The original dies (defaced) are with me.” He, along with his eventual executor, Charles Stewart-Wilson, were indeed present at the defacement formalities, but it is odd that Masson should have come into possession of the actual dies even for a time. Perhaps he meant only that he had been presented with a set of the defacement proofs. Notice the incorrect ascription of the denominations. Many philatelists of the time and in the succeeding decades did regard the center stamp above as the 1-anna denomination.
Compare the orange forgery with the green non-postal, for which the design is authentic. The most blatant of many differences concerns the first Dogri letter at the top, a curlicue 3-like element da- of “dak Jammu” (Post Office Jammu). In the forgery the lower tail of the element extends far enough left to touch the first Persian syllable qā-, whereas in the original the tail is tucked well back to give the element a very different-looking slant.
Above: Examples of missing-dies in the blacks on the three main types of paper, namely native, toned wove, and the smooth white wove.
Above: And a triplet in the brown class, shown here as a query to the shade designations in the Séfi listing. In the wove those authors list only a red-brown and a yellow-brown. While the item on the left is conceivably the red-brown, the other two do not find a good shade match. In daylight, they are respectively of lilac-brown and purple-brown persuasions on the yellow- toned woves. We provisionally add them to the listing, marked with a star (∗).
Above: The ½a vermilion missing-die forgery on toned wove paper with a Manawar postal marking dated poh 20. The implement that produced this spurious cancellation found its way to the museum at Srinagar where it still sports the same date, as one of Staal-Sharma restrikes in purple ink (right) attests.
|½a dull blue||native|
|½a grey-blue||thick native|
|½a grey-blue||thin yellow laid|
|½a dull red||native|
|½a pale red||white laid|
|½a scarlet||white laid|
|½a orange||white laid|
|½a yellow-green||white laid|
|½a grey-green||thin yellow laid|
|½a sage-green||toned laid|
|½a pale dull purple||native|
|½a purple||white laid|
|½a bright red-brown||white laid|
|½a lilac-browns∗||yellow wove|
|½a purple-brown∗||yellow wove|
Compare the forgery on the left above with the reprint on the right, for which the design is authentic. The starkest of many differences concerns the slant and shapes within the central symbol. In the forgery, the semi-circular hook is more symmetrically oriented wrt the unit stroke, which itself is more bulbous. In the forgery its vertical axis if extended would cut through the center of the Dogri da- at the top, but not in the orginal. The second Dogri letter -k at about the one-o’clock position has a bent back in the forgery, straight in the orginal. The checklist (all oilcolor) is taken from Séfi & Mortimer. By “woves” plural, one means that the item is attested in both toned-wove and smooth white wove varieties:
|1a black||white laid|
|1a grey-blue||white laid|
|1a pale red||native|
|1a red||white laid|
|1a scarlet||white laid|
|1a deep ochre||woves|
|1a brown-yellow (sol)||yellow laid|
|1a grey-green||yellow-toned laid|
|1a dull purple||white laid|
Compare the 4a forgery (above left) with an impression from the authentic die on the right. A stark difference shows up in the rendering of both elements in the Dogri dak at the top. In addition, an imagined extension of the central numeral aligns pretty well with the (anomalously straight) back of the -k in the forgery, whereas in the original that extension is directed considerably more between the two elements in question.
Above: There is a second (II) class of Missing-Die forgery that comes in at least five colors, of which this is the vermilion on thin, slightly toned wove. We designate this Type II in Séfi and Mortimer’s checklist below. By “woves” plural, one means that the items are attested in both toned-wove and smooth white wove varieties.
The 4a purple comes in both Type I (left) and Type II (right) in an ink-like pigment that is slightly soluble. Both are on smooth white wove.
There is also a rare variety that Séfi & Mortimer (whence the b/w image) suggest is the result of the die having incurred damage. It made for a bit of a mess in the center.
|4a black||white laid|
|4a blue II||woves|
|4a brown-red||white laid|
|4a vermilion II||woves|
|4a pale dull red II||woves|
|4a pale red||white laid|
|4a orange-red||white laid|
|4a scarlet||white laid|
|4a ochre||white laid|
|4a yellow II||woves|
|4a greyish-green||yellow laid|
|4a yellow-green||white laid|
|4a yellow-green II||woves|
|4a dull purple||laid|
|4a purple II||woves|
Missing-Die forgeries are said not to exist for the ¼a denomination, i.e., the companion type from the upper line of stamps from the visitors’ plate. These 2as Missing Dies were indeed produced from a single die, not from a plate.
The forgery on the left is easily told from an oilcolor reprint on the right by the fact that the forgery is (a) too tall and narrow, (b) the sun at the top is too small and scatty, and (c) the dotting configuration is different. The example shown is in an early state of the die, which stands in contrast to...
...the late state of the die, in which a crack has developed across the upper left corner. The image of the 2as brown on white wove was taken from from the internet, the other is the 2as red on toned wove, which shade stands in contrast to the early-state vermilion shown above. In the table below, from Séfi & Mortimer, we do not know which types appear only with, or only without, the crack. We just presume that not all eleven types are attested both ways.
|2a black||thin white wove|
|2a black||toned wove|
|2a dull ultramarine||thin toned woves|
|2a dull blue||thin white wove|
|2a red||thin toned wove|
|2a vermilion||thin toned wove|
|2a vermilion||thin white wove|
|2a orange||white wove|
|2a pale brown||native|
|2a brown||thin white wove|
The 4a red and black oilcolor forgeries on thin wove paper. The absence of dots in the spandrels and the extra white line that surrounds the entire design are two of the main diagnostics for this forgery. The lines at the top have a noticeable curve to them, too low on the left side. They come on four kinds of papers: native, thin toned wove, thin white woves, and thin white laid paper. Stocks of them were found in the Official Treasury.
|4a black||thin toned wove|
|4a black||thin white wove|
|4a blue||thin toned woves|
|4a deep blue||thin toned woves|
|4a dull ultramarine||thin white laid|
|4a grey-blue||white wove|
|4a orange-red||white laid|
|4a red||thin toned wove|
|4a vermilion||white wove|
|4a yellow||thin white wove|
|4a olive-yellow||white laid|
|4a green||thin toned wove|
|4a green||thin white wove|
|4a purple||white laid|
|4a purple-brown||thin toned wove|
|4a brown||thin toned wove|
|4a purple-brown||thin white wove|
|4a chocolate-brown||white laid|
The most characteristic features of these forgeries, which are shared by the Kashmir 4a forgeries, are the double framing, the absence of dots in the spandrels, and the too-small sun symbol at the top.
|8a black||thin toned wove|
|8a black||thin white wove|
|8a red||thin toned wove|
|8a red||thin greyish-wove|
|8a bright red||thin greyish wove|
|8a vermilion||white laid|