Missing-Die Forgeries

½a Circular1a Circular4a Circular2a Kashmir4a Die8a Die

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.


½a Circular Missing Dies


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 Circular Missing-Dies (Séfi)
½a blacknative
½a blackwoves
½a dull bluenative
½a grey-bluenative
½a grey-bluethick native
½a grey-bluethin yellow laid
½a bluewoves
½a carmine-rednative
½a vermilionnative
½a vermilionwoves
½a dull rednative
½a pale redwhite laid
½a scarletwhite laid
½a orangenative
½a orangewhite laid
½a brown-orangewoves
½a yellownative
½a lemon-yellowlaid
½a yellowwoves
½a orange-yellowwoves
½a greennative
½a greenwoves
½a yellow-greenwhite laid
½a yellow-greenwoves
½a grey-greenthin yellow laid
½a sage-greentoned laid
½a blue-greenwoves
½a pale dull purplenative
½a purplewhite laid
½a red-brownnative
½a bright red-brownwhite laid
½a red-brownwoves
½a yellow-brownwoves
½a lilac-browns∗yellow wove
½a purple-brown∗yellow wove


1a Circular Missing-Dies


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 Circular Missing-Dies (Séfi)
1a blacknative
1a blackwhite laid
1a blackwoves
1a bluenative
1a bluewoves
1a grey-bluewhite laid
1a rednative
1a pale rednative
1a brown-rednative
1a redwhite laid
1a scarletwhite laid
1a brown-redwoves
1a brown-lakewoves
1a vermilionwoves
1a orangewoves
1a yellowwoves
1a deep ochrewoves
1a brown-yellow (sol)yellow laid
1a (sage?)-greennative
1a greenwoves
1a yellow-greenwoves
1a grey-greenyellow-toned laid
1a purplenative
1a dull purplewhite laid


4a circular Missing-Dies


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 Circular Missing-Dies (Séfi)
4a blacknative
4a blackwhite laid
4a blackwoves
4a bluenative
4a bluewoves
4a blue IIwoves
4a brown-rednative
4a brown-redwhite laid
4a brown-redwoves
4a redwoves
4a vermilionwoves
4a vermilion IIwoves
4a pale dull red IIwoves
4a pale redwhite laid
4a orange-redwhite laid
4a scarletwhite laid
4a orangenative
4a orangewoves
4a brown-orangewoves
4a ochre-yellownative
4a ochrewhite laid
4a yellowwoves
4a yellow IIwoves
4a greennative
4a bluish-greennative
4a greyish-greennative
4a greyish-greenyellow laid
4a greenwoves
4a yellow-greenwoves
4a yellow-greenwhite laid
4a yellow-green IIwoves
4a dull purplelaid
4a purplewoves
4a purple IIwoves


The 2as Kashmir Plate Missing-dies

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.


Kashmir Plate Missing-Dies (Séfi)
2a blackthin white wove
2a blacktoned wove
2a dull ultramarinethin toned woves
2a dull bluethin white wove
2a redthin toned wove
2a vermilionnative
2a vermilionthin toned wove
2a vermilionthin white wove
2a orangewhite wove
2a pale brownnative
2a brownthin white wove


Kashmir 4a-die Missing-die



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.

Kashmir 4a Missing-Dies (Séfi)
4a blacknative
4a blackthin toned wove
4a blackthin white wove
4a bluenative
4a bluethin toned woves
4a deep bluethin toned woves
4a dull ultramarinethin white laid
4a grey-bluewhite wove
4a rednative
4a orange-redwhite laid
4a redthin toned wove
4a vermilionwhite wove
4a orangenative
4a yellowthin white wove
4a olive-yellowwhite laid
4a greenthin toned wove
4a greenthin white wove
4a purplewhite laid
4a orange-brownnative
4a purple-brownthin toned wove
4a brownthin toned wove
4a purple-brownthin white wove
4a chocolate-brownwhite laid


Kashmir 8a-die Missing-Dies


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.

Kashmir 8a Missing-Dies (Séfi)
8a blacknative
8a blackthin toned wove
8a blackthin white wove
8a rednative
8a redthin toned wove
8a redthin greyish-wove
8a bright redthin greyish wove
8a vermilionnative
8a vermilionwhite laid
8a orangenative

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