§3 Circular Stamps—First Issue

Text: From The Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir by D.P. Masson, pp 8-11.

These, the earliest stamps of Kashmir, date from early in 1866, probably from March or April of that year. They were used both in the Jammu and Kashmir Provinces, those used in the former bearing the magenta, and those used in the latter the brick-red obliteration of their respective provinces. They were printed on native laid hand-made paper, in three denominations, from three separate dies representing half-anna, one-anna, and four-annas. The design is similar in all three cases—in the centre a hollow radiating sun, bearing the characters denoting the value; surrounding the sun are inscriptions in the Dogra and Persian characters; and each die is finished off by two outer circles, the inner of these being a heavy one and the outer a light one.

To enable my readers to follow the reading of the inscriptions, I would ask them to consider the first Dogra letter, which looks like a rough figure 3, as the key of the position, and the place the first Persian letter on its left in the position of 12 o’clock on a watch dial. Now, reading from left to right, the five bold Dogra letters represent the words Dak Jammu, or Post of Jammu; and are followed by the figures 1923, corresponding with our year 1866. Returning now to the position of 12 o’clock, and reading from right to left, the Persian character runs Kalmrāo riyāsat Sarkār Jammu Kashmir or Dominions of the Ruler of Jammu and Kashmir.

The values, within the central sun, are indicated much in the same way as we represent shillings and pence on the left and right hand sides of a vertical stroke, and pence some times by a solitary figure, followed by the letter ‘d’. In this case a curve is used instead of our vertical stroke. Strokes outside the curve represent each a quarter of an anna, strokes inside the curve represent quarters of a rupee, and a solitary stroke represents an anna. The half-anna denomination is therefore shown by two strokes outside a curve (two quarters of an anna), the anna by a single solitary stroke, and the four-annas by a stroke within a curve (one-quarter of a rupee). [Copyist’s note: This description is now understood to be incorrect; the symbols respresenting the 1a and 4a have been interchanged.]

The first issue of circular stamps extended over a period of about two years, until early in 1868. The standard colours were ½a black, 1a blues, and 4a blues. I should be glad if I could say that only these standard colours were used, but I am compelled to add two more stamps to the first list of circulars, viz. 1a black and 4a black. Now, how is this departure from the standard colour, at the very outset almost, to be accounted for? I venture to give an explanation which I believe to be well-founded. When I come to a description of the Jammu and the Kashmir rectangular stamps (§4 and §5) I will show that the earliest colour experiment in each province was in black. I believe that the circular 1a black and 4a black were contemporaneous with these black rectangulars, and were in fact printed from the only pigment being used at that time. Doubtless ½a circular stamps were also printed, with the other two black denominations; but there is no possible way of separating these from the early standard stamp of that denomination. Both were in the same colour, and there was no change of obliteration to show which were printed side by side with the 1a and 4a blues, and which side by side with the 1a and 4a blacks. The above seems to me a simple way of explaining the introduction of the black colour for the higher value of circular stamps, and it is supported by the course undoubtedly adopted throughout the whole period of the re-issue of circular stamps, when these were always printed in the colours current from time to time for the Jammu rectangulars.

It is possible, too, on the same principle, that all three denominations were printed in blue, at the time when the "second experimental" Jammu rectangulars were being printed in that colour. This would account for a known 4a black-blue, the colour of which is very like that of the Jammu rectangulars of the period. But a circular ½a blue is unknown [ed., no longer true] and the 1a and 4a stamps, if ever printed, have merged in the standard blues, the obliterations being alike.

Some catalogues include in the first issues such colours as vermilion and orange, but I am confident that these were contemporaneous with the standard watercolour red issues of the Jammu rectangulars, and were used from 1869 or 1870 until 1877. All used copies will be found to bear the Jammu black circular seal or black square seal obliterations of that period, the former very rarely. It will be seen that, in spite of the numberous colours of the catalogues, the first issues of circular stamps was simple enough. Excluding shades, there are just five stamps in all, for three denominations—a total very different from that of the catalogue.

I shall now leave the circular stamps altogether, for a time. After the first issues, described above, they were abandoned in the Kashmir Province, and in the Jammu Province they were re-introduced only as supplementary to the rectangular issues, and in the colours. In these circumstances I consider that a description of the rectangulars of each province claims the next place.


§4 The Old Rectangulars of the Jammu Province

Text: From The Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir by D.P. Masson, pp 12-15.

These stamps were printed in sheets, from a block of four stamps, the lower-left hand stamp of each block being a 1a, and the other three being ½a. The illustrations of both stamps given in the catalogues are extremely misleading, especially in the case of the ½a stamp. Each stamp is shown as complete with border lines of the colour of the stamp, and with a margin of the colour of the paper, whereas the only border line (and that a very light one), and the only possible margin, are on the edge of the complete block of four stamps. Each of the four stamps has an outer and an inner oval line; the outer oval is really a circle, with a radius of 11 mm, but having its sides cut off where it approaches the outer edge of the block and where it impinges on the adjoining stamp; where the tops of the lower row meet the upper row the circles just touch. Between the oval lines at the top is a star, separating the words “Jammoo” and “Kashmir” in Dogra character. The lower part of the space is occupied by practically the same Persian inscription as appears on the circular stamps. Within the inner oval in each case are three horizontal lines of vernacular. In the ½a the value nim anna (with the date 1923 in very small Persian character to the right) occupies the first line; the second repeats the value, adha anna, in Dogra character; and the third repeats the date in the same character. In the 1a stamp the same arrangement is repeated, but the Persian date is left out, there being no space for it.

I believe the colours were issued in the following order. The periods are fixed from originals [i.e., covers, ed.] that I have personally examined, but of course they might have extended for a few months earlier or later. For convenient reference I repeat the obliteration in each case:


First Rectangular Issue

In black watercolour; obliteration, seal or dab in magenta. These are very rare stamps, and is difficult to arrive at conclusions from the few copies of each denomination which I have seen. Still, I think I may venture on the assertion, judging from these and from the less rare Kashmir Province black stamps in my possession, that the earliest issue of Jammu rectangulars was in black, and that this colour was used only for a few months, experimentally. The only ½a stamp of this issue which I have seen is on an envelope posted in Jammu, and bearing the Sialkot postmark of 13 September 1867. This would go to show that the first circular issue and thbe black rectangular issue overlapped. The obliteration is of the greatest importance in the case of these stamps, to distinguish them from the black stamps of the issue of 1875-76 mentioned below.


Second Rectangular Issue

In blue watercolour; same obliteration. This colour, which includes the indigo-blue, deep ultramarine, and deep violet-blue (but not the bright blue) of the catalogues, is also fairly rare, as it too appears to have been experimental, though for a longer time. It extended over a period of about nine months, from September 1867 to May 1868.


Third Rectangular Issue

In red watercolour, with its catalogue shades of orange and orange-red; obliteration, up to about end of 1869, the same circular seal but in black, thereafter the square black seal. (Added in footnote: There is an impression that no orange stamps of the 1a denomination exist, but I have myself seen three copies). About the middle of 1868 the Jammu authorities settled down to the standard colour of red, to which they steadily adhered (with one departure from the straight path, which I shall include under the head "superfluous issues") until the new type of rectangulars was introduced in 1878. I have said that the standard colour was red, but of necessity—seeing that the printing was done by hand, and the colours were constantly being mixed afresh—there are shades of orange and orange-red.


Fourth Rectangular Issue

In dull red and red-brown oil-colour (1878); same obliteration. In this issue, while there is no change of colour, we have two great innovations in that (1) the stamps are printed in oil-colours, and (2) European laid paper is used for the first time, as well as native paper. I think this issue must be considered as only supplementary to the third issue, though oils would no doubt have superseded watercolours had all old rectangulars not become obsolete in the following year. Though the change from watercolour to oil may have been for the better as regards durability in the stamps, it was certainly not an imporovement to their appearance; the rectangular issues, especially, are generally badly printed, and as often as not the greater part of the inscription is quite illegible. It will be seen that so far, there was a thorough consistency in the colours of the Jammu rectangulars—a settling down toi the standard colour of red, after experiments with black and blue. But I must, alas! now come to the departures from the true path. These I shall describe under the heading of:


Superfluous Watercolour Issues

In black, emerald-green, and bright-blue; obliteration, the square black seal. These were issued in 1875(?) and 1876, as supplementary to the standard red watercolour rectangulars then in use. The black stamps can be distinguished from those of 1867 only by the obliteration. The pigment of the bright-blues differs greatly from that of the 1867-68 blues, and these could be mistaken only by a novice; but here again the obliteration will distinguish the two issues. These bright blues are very beautiful and rare stamps, as are also the emerald-greens.


Superfluous Oil-colour Issues

In dull blue and black; same obliteration. When oil was substituted for watercolour in the standard reds, in 1877, the supplementary superfluous colours were continued in very dull oils. They were very badly printed, and all the stamps I have seen have oxidised badly. One shows a tinge of green through the oxidation, and it is very likely that they may have been printed in the three colours of the watercolours which they superseded. I have seen none of these oils on European paper, and I feel certain it may be asserted with truth that only the standard colour of red was issued on such paper, so far as the Jammu rectangulars are concerned. We shall see later that the contemporaneous circular oils were printed in all these colours, on European paper. There is a want of the usual uniformity about this which I regret; but so it is.


§5 Old Rectangulars of Kashmir Province

Text: From The Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir by D.P. Masson, pp 16-21.

I have shown that the old rectangulars of the Jammu Province were all printed from a single plate of four stamps, one being a 1a stamp and the other three ½a stamps. In the case of the old rectangulars of the Kashmir Province there are a great many more types, viz.:

½atemporary die1 type
¼a2nd plate5 types
½a1st plate20 types
1a1st plate5 types
2a2nd plate5 types
4adie1 type
8adie1 type

This gives in all thirty-eight types, as against four for Jammu. The plates were all engraved by Rahat Joo, a seal-cutter, still living near the Bahuri Kadal at Srinagar in Kashmir. He is now an old man and palsied, but his hand has not lost its cunning, for he quite recently cut some beautiful seals for me.

I wish to correct the prevailing impression, which appears in the catalogues, that the ½a and 1a stamps of the series to which I am now referring are an issue of 1924 [AD 1867] that which I have described as the Jammu stamps being considered the only issue dated 1923. The misunderstanding arose through the fourth figure in the Dogra year being shaped like an English three, on the Jammu plate, while in the Kashmir ones it differs considerably and looks like a roung letter ‘n’. I was very much puzzled over the latter being considered a 4, because in all plates where the year is quoted also in Persian figures, whether of Jammu or Kashmir, it is given distinctly as 1923. It appeared, therefore, as if there was an error in the plates; and I was convinced that such an error must be in the Dogra figure, and not in the Persian, because I had ½a stamps of the so-called 1924 single die (corresponding to our 1867) on envelopes undoubtedly posted in 1866. The whole difficulty was cleared away unexpectedly at an interview which I had with three reliable native gentlemen—Sardar Devi Singh, Prime Minister of the Poonch State, the Vakil of the same State and his Munshi. I mention the persons that there may be no doubt about the authority. All agree that the figure hitherto read as a 4 is a recognized 3, and all the Jammu and Kashmir plates may therefore undoubtedly be considered to bear the same date, viz., 1923 (AD 1866). This unfortunate difference in the appearance of the figure 3 led to much confusion in Europe, and naturally to a wrong grouping of the plates.

The ½a and 1a stamps were printed from the same plate, which was made up of four rows of five ½a stamps, and one row (the lowest) of five 1a stamps. The ¼a and 2a stamps were also from one plate, made up of five ¼a stamps in the upper row and five 2a stamps on the lower. The 4a and 8a stamps were each from a single die. Though all the plates are dated 1866, I believe that no stamps were printed from them until 1867, with the one exception of the ½a single die.

I shall now proceed to mention the various printings from the plates, fixing the probable dates of each issue from personal inspection of originals [covers] or other reliable data. As in the case of the Jammoo issues, we have experimental and standard, but fortunately, no superfluous issues. The catalogued 1a stamp from a single die, in many colours, will be disposed of jointly with the circular Die I, for I believe they are near relatives. I do not repeat the obliterations as in the case of the Jammu issues, because they are invariably the brick-red seals of the Srinagar and Leh State Post Offices, or the marks of the British Post Offices.


The First Rectangular

This stamp, used in the Kashmir Province, was the ½a black, printed from a single die. In general appearance this die closely resembles the Jammu Province type described in the preceding chapter. It differs from all other genuine old rectangular stamps of either province in having no dotted lines in the spandrels. The illustrations of this stamp in the catalogues are invariably incorrect—in fact the catalogues seem to reproduce the forgery, an illustration in Le Timbre-Poste, against which they warn collectors. The stamp was used at least as early as October 1866, as I have seen it on an envelope of that date. It probably superseded the ½a circular stamp, in the Srinagar [i.e., Kashmir] Province, until the permanent plate for that denomination was introduced. It must have been used for only a very short time, as it is rare. [Copyist’ note: The ½a black watercolor from the first Kashmir plate of 25 subjects is now known from early October 1866. The single die is known in postal use until the following spring. The ½-anna printings in black from the single-die and from the plate essentially overlap over the entire periods of their respective tenures. The single-die, though rare, was not exactly ‘temporary’.]


Kashmir Plates and High-Value Dies

We now come to the permanent plates which were used throughout until the end of the old rectangular period. Their design, as compared with that of the Jammu stamps, shows two very marked differences which at once strike the eye. (1) The ovals are much narrower, and (2) each stamp is complete with margin, the ovals of the adjoining stamps not quite touching one another on the plate. As compared with the ½a and 1a rectangular denominations of Jammu, Kashmir has four more denominations—the ¼a and the 2a, 4a, and 8a. The inscriptions, &c., are much as in the Jammu issues; in the ½a the Persian date is given in the first line, just as in the Jammu issue; but in the 1a of Kashmir the date is given in small Persian characters, below the denomination, while the Jammu issue I have shown that this is wanting. In the 2a stamp the date is given in the same line, but the 19 is on the left edge and 23 on the right edge of the oval, with a space between. The ¼a has the same arrangement, but the space between the two pairs of figures is occupied by vowel dots connected with characters above. In the 4a and 8a the date is not given in Persian. In all, the date is repeated at the foot, in Dogra characters.


Experimental Issues

As in the Jammu Province, so also in Kashmir, there were experiments in black and blue (but only from the composite ½a and 1a plate) before the postal authorities settled down to standard colours for all the permanent plates. For the first experimental issue we have the whole plate printed in black, giving us the the ½a and 1a black. This was contemporaneous with the Jammu black issue. The whole plate must have then been printed in blue (as a 1a blue is known). This mode of printing must have been in use for an extremely short time, as the 1a blue is probably one of the rarest of all Kashmirs. We now come to the:


Permanent Issues of 1867-77

These were the permanent or standard colours, arrived at after the above-mentioned experiments, and consistently adhered to without any change until the end of the old rectangular period in 1877. The watercolours were as follows:

• ¼a black. A stamp of so low a denomination was required on account of the concession of half rates to outsiders resident in Kashmir, on all letters posted at the British Post Offices there. (Such letters were charged with the full British postal rates in addition to the half Kashmir rates, and they bore both Indian and Kashmir stamps).

• ½a blue. This is similar in every respect to the same stamp in the blue experimental issue. The only change, in the permanent printings, was that only the twenty ½a stamps were inked in blue, the 1a row being inked in its new colour.

• 1a orange, yellowish-orange, red-orange, orange-brown, and dark brown. I have not seen a yellow copy as catalogued, and I think that in the many shades of this stamp pale orange is the nearrest approach to yellow. Surely “yellow” is a careless and incorrect classification, as that colour was reserved for the 2a stamp. Nor have I seen a vermilion as catalogued; this must be a mistake, as red and its shades were the colours reserved for the Jammu issue stamps, always excepting the 8a red Srinagar stamp, which denomination could not cause confusion with such low values as the ½a and 1a of Jammu. No stamp, however, shows such a variety of colour as does this 1a stamp— in my collection I have all possible colours, from the palest orange up to a very dark brown.

• 2a yellow. These stamps show slight difference in shade. Some show specks of mica in the pigment.

• 4a green. This stamp is printed in several shades, varying from bright green to sage-green.

• 8a red. This is a rare stamp in India, though it seems fairly common in Europe.

I learned from Major Evans that the whole set of six values in the permanent colours were sent by Major Crawcroft of Rawalpindi to Messrs. Alfred Smith and Co., in November 1867; probably they were in use for a few months before this time. All the used copies I have seen of the above-mentioned stamps of the Kashmir Province are printed on native-made paper, thickish to thick (the ordinary textures of these hand-made papers). There is one exception, in a 4a green on thin tough paper, which also seems of native make. All oil-colours and stamps printed on European paper, from the Kashmir Province plates, must I think be classed as essays or as reprints to order. I have never seen one postally used. [Note added in footnote: With regard to these stamps Major Evans writes:

“It is difficult to know what to call these; impression made while the stamps are in use are certainly not reprints, and there is no doubt the ¼a, 4a, and 8a on ordinary laid paper (similar to that of the unified series and of some of the Afghans) were made as early as 1876. And the 2a in watercolour, on thin laid and bâtonné papers are put down by Moens as of 1874. They are of early date, no doubt, and possibly the whole printings of these came to Europe, but the 2a is scarce. The ½a and 1a of Kashmir I have never seen on these papers, which seems to be against the ‘printed to order’ theory.”]

I trust I have shown that there was a thorough consistency in the Kashmir Province issues—a settling down to standard colours throughout, after experiments in black and blue, with the composite ½a + 1a plate only.


§6 Jammu Circular Re-Issues

Text: From The Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir by D.P. Masson, pp 22-24.

These were printed and used, as already mentioned, side by side the the Jammu rectangulars, and in the same colours ‘standard’ and ‘superfluous’ in watercolours and oil-colours. A third group introduces European paper, as in the case of the Jammu Province; but, whereas in the rectangulars only the standard colours were printed on European paper, we have in the circulars the colours of the superfluous water-colours repeated in oils. In the table below I simply repeat that in Stanley Gibbons’ latest catalogue (1889), but I separate the standard colours from the superfluous ones, and slightly alter the dates of the former. I cannot say why the four last-mentioned in the table have not their full complement of the three denominations. I know of no reason whatever why they should, and it is possible the missing stamps may have been printed, though they are not known. [Copyist’s note: The last column in the table is the dating in the SG 2007 edition.]


Circular Re-Issues
1869-76standard½a red waternativeas 1874
1869-76standard½a vermilion waternative as 1874 orange-red
1869-76standard½a orange-red waternative as 1874 orange-red
1869-76standard1a red waternativeas 1874
1869-76standard1a vermilion waternativeas 1874 orange-red
1869-76standard1a orange-red waternativeas 1874 orange
1869-76standard4a red waternativeas 1869
1869-76standard4a vermilion waternativeas 1872 orange-red
1869-76standard4a orange-red waternativeas 1872 orange
1875-76superfluous½a black water nativeas deep black
1875-76superfluous1a black waternativeas deep black
1875-76superfluous4a black waternativeas deep black
1875-76superfluous½a emerald-green waternativeno change
1875-76superfluous1a emerald-green waternativeno change
1875-76superfluous4a emerald-green waternativeno change
1875-76superfluous½a bright blue waternativeas 1876
1875-76superfluous1a bright blue waternativeas 1876
1875-76superfluous4a bright blue waternativeas 1876
1875-76superfluous½a yellow waternativeno change
1875-76superfluous1a yellow waternativeno change
1875-76superfluous4a yellow waternativeno change
1877standard½a red oilnativeno change
1877standard1a red oilnativeno change
1877standard4a red oilnativeno change
1877superfluous½a black oilnativeno change
1877superfluous1a black oilnativeabsent
1877superfluous4a black oilnativeabsent
1877superfluous½a sage-green oilnativeno change
1877superfluous1a sage-green oilnativeno change
1877superfluous4a sage-green oilnativeno change
1877superfluous½a slate-blue oilnativeno change
1877superfluous1a slate-blue oilnativeno change
1877superfluous4a slate-blue oilnativeabsent
1877standard½a vermilion oillaidas red
1877standard1a vermilion oillaidabsent
1877standard4a vermilion oillaidas red
1877superfluous½a black oillaidno change
1877superfluous1a black oillaidabsent
1877superfluous4a black oillaidabsent
1877superfluous½a blue oillaidas slate-blue
1877superfluous1a blue oillaidas slate-blue
1877superfluous4a blue oillaidas slate-blue
1877superfluous½a yellowlaidno change
1877superfluous4a sage-green oillaidno change
1877standard4a vermilion oilthick laidabsent
1877superfluous1a deep blue oilthick laidabsent

► Three Hoary-headed Impostors.

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