The L-Bars

And so begins the saga of the L-bar obliterators. Each Postal Circle was assigned a letter, usually after the initial letter of the sadr town. Such being Lahore for the Punjab Circle, we see the use of L on the series of obliterators most pertinent to us. Even the L on the Leh obliterator is said to represent Lahore. Quoting from Renouf:

“The obliterator has the merit of effecting a very thorough cancellation, indeed far too thorough in the view of the philatelist. It is difficult to regard it as other than inartistic and even hideous.”



KASHMIR + 5/L-6 All-India Duplex. This separable implement appeared just before the Special Printings and persisted in service throughout the transitional period and well into the early New Rectangulars period. We discussed the cds portion in the cds section. As to the obliterator, how to read them? Paraphrasing Renouf: The center line contains the Circle letter on the left and the number of the regional Disbursing Office on the right, the two being separated by a hyphen. If the office in question was subordinate to the disbursing office, its own number was added at the top. If the office in question was a merely a branch of such a non-disbursing office, a third number was added at the bottom. In the case of a branch office of a disbursing office there is of course no number at the top, but only the branch number at the bottom. Thus, for the 5/L-6, the L = Lahore, which was the sadr of the Punjab Circle; 6 = Rawalpindi, which was was the disbursing office to which 5 = Srinagar was the subordinate non-disbursing office at the time.

L-35/4 obliterator. This type is mentioned in the Billig Handbook, and we have not seen discussions of it. Here is the quotation from Renouf p 508:

“The Punjab series ends at number 22, ..., but I have an entire from Cashmere with the cancellation L-35/4. The letter shows a postmark of Srinagar, which is probably a sorting mark, for the place of origin is doubtless a branch office of Srinagar, Srinagar being the disbursing office. The number 35 for a disbursing office requires some explanation. Is it simply a bad blunder by the central Punjab office?”

Was Srinagar a disbursing office at the time? Our tentative stab at an accounting for the anomalous marking is that it is really an L-3, i.e., disbursal from Sialkot. The 5 is the non-disbursing office number for Srinagar, which was simply inveigled into the central line instead of excising the upper bars and carving the 5 at the top. Then the 4, assuming it to have been at the bottom, was for some here unknown branch office of Srinagar.



The L-3/8 obliterator for the Sialkot City Mail Agency, chronicled by Anthony Bard under number BSC5, and by Séfi & Mortimer by Type 59 (thier drawing). It was accompanied by the Sialkot City datestamp shown in the preceding entry. The central line, L-3 is for Sialkot proper, the disbursing office, and the 8 in the lower set of (two, not three) bars signifies the “City” branch. Anthony Bard notes that all mail from Jammu was routed via Sialkot City between November 1877 and February 1878. The detail shown above was indeed at Sialkot City on 31 January 1878, passed through Sialkot on 1 February 1878, and was received at Hoshiarpur the next day. The L-3/1 shown on the right is Séfi & Mortimer’s drawing, their Type 72, venue unknown.



The 3/L-3 obliterator (not 3/L-8!) This marking appeared with the first LEH cds in spring 1876 and both are occasionally seen on the same cover, at least up to late summer 1882 when the obliterator was abandoned. To go by Renouf’s description of these implements, the 3 at the top, assuming it refers to Leh, means that Leh was a non-disbursing office subordinate to Sialkot, which is designated by the 3 in the lower line.


Type 73 above is another listed by Séfi and Mortimer that has accompanied native stamps, venue and dating here unknown.


The Oval L-bar Obliterators

The obliterators in an oval (sometimes a circle) of bars Every time we have a chance to inspect an unusually clear impression, we seem to discern a distinct variety. Among other differences, authentic variants exhibit characteristically shorter and longer bases to the L.



Srinagar L-bar in oval-shaped bars, long axis of oval vertical. The first detail above is taken from an undated cover from either August 1880 or 1881, the other (on the Srinagar bisect) was dated 1 September 1886. They are rather similar and difficult to distinguish as they usually come. Among other differences the base on the L in the latter is shorter. As for a type not originating in Kashmir, we have the following for contrast:


The Srinagar L-bar exhibiting an excessively long base. Its dates are unknown, but this example was found on a Srinagar to Baghowal (Gujrat) cover, arriving on 12 February 1885. Compare next entry.



Here again is another style of the Srinagar L-bar oval obliterator seen here in a May 1885 detail. It differs from the example shown in the preceding entry by having a shorter base, and differs variously from the 1880 type.



The barred-L seen here on a January 1892 detail is characterized, among other features, by the shortened bars on the left and the appearance of a slight backward slant to the upright. We are not sure that this is a Srinagar marking. The Amritsar delivery cds seen here made is first appearance back in September 1888. We have no latest date to report, except to report that one of our 3rd DEL versions of the same is dated April 1894.



Sialkot L-bar (circular-shaped). Not only is the oval more circular than the Srinagar type of L-bar, the ratio of the base to the height of the L is significantly less than that of any of the Srinagar types. It is found on covers originating in Jammu in the 1881-83 period, and which passed through Sialkot. We do not know for certain where the marking was applied (conventional understanding would disallow Jammu itself). We imagine it used at Sialkot for cancelling the British postage, while the Jammu 12-bar that invariably accompanies had been used to cancel the native stamps. The Persian at bottom of this cover reads “from Jammu 21 assuj 1938” ~ 5 October 1881.


Here is more sharply-impressed short-based L-bar taken as a detail from another 1881 Jammu-originated cover seen on the internet. As above, it too sported the Jammu 12-bar obliterating a native stamp. The Persian here says ‘Amritsar’, the destination. This type of short-base L is not to be confused for a similar-looking but faked postmark produced after the closing of the native posts:


Forgery. This L-bar is told by the short base on the L (not to be confused with a legitimate short-base Sialkot type shown in the preceding entries). They are not used on the same sort of stamps, Victorias vs. later New Rectangulars. Images taken from the internet.


Sialkot “bald-patch” L-bar. The schematic on the left is Séfi and Mortimer’s drawing, their Type 48. The example on the right, an image nicked from the internet, might or might not be an example.


Another example of the bald-patch L-bar type, here for July 1888, possibly at Sialkot.



A different “bald-patch” L-bar from a cover dated at Sialkot on 15 April 1887 (Séfi & Mortimer’s drawing, Type 74). They are distinguished by the bars overhanging the base of the L on the right side, resulting in a somewhat narrowed bald-patch. Contrast preceding, and the following:



Leh L-bars. Drawings from Séfi & Mortimer, their Types 45 and 46, and we quote: “The only two examples known to us of Type 45 (1886) are on covers dated, respectively, 6 and 16 August 1886. Both covers also show the [second LEH circle] and in both cases the Imperial stamp is cancelled with a postmark of Kullu, which is a town in Kangra Valley, British India. Of Type 46 (1890), at present a single example only appears to be known. This is also in company with the postmark of the [second LEH circle], and dated 17 August 1890.”



The Leh L-Bar in Square. Séfi & Mortimer report this marking from as early as 1880 in registration usage, and is known until spring 1884.

To top of page