I can fancy nothing more bewildering to the Philatelist than his first glance in a catalogue at the pages devoted to the older Kashmir stamps. The list opens with no less than sixteen varieties, for stamps of only three denominations, and all apparently issued in the same year, 1866. The next glance shows that all this exhausts only the stamps printed from one set of dies. A list of seven more varieties follows, from new but very similar dies, and these too the product of the same year. Nor is this all, for further inspection shows that, so far, the student has been dealing only with the so-called circular dies, and he is next confronted with a list of twenty-four varieties from rectangular dies, all for the same unending year of 1866. Passing at last to the next year, he finds an increase in the number of denominations, and no less than twenty-two new stamps to be mastered. In short, in the catalogue now before meStanley Gibbons’ for 1899he will find the years 1866-7 represented by sixty-nine different stamps, apparently in all the colours of the rainbow. And this is a moderate total compared with that of other catalogues; the latest Scott catalogue before me has ninety-four varieties of circular stamps and ninety-nine old rectangulars! No wonder these should have puzzled even such an expert as Major Evans, who wrote regarding the colours generally that they “were dictated more by the taste and fancy of the printer, or the resources of his establishment in the way of ink than by the requirements of the Post Office.” Major Evans had not then had the same opportunities as I have had of examining these stamps on the original, or we should long ago have had the difficult made plain: I gratefully acknowledge that it was his articles in the Philatelic Record for 1887 and 1888 that directed my enquiries regarding these stamps, ten years later, and so have led to the publication of this Hand Book.
The task which I have set before me is to endeavour to arrange in their order all the colours that were used in the printing of genuine stamps, making each tell the story of its birth, life and retirement from public service; it will be found that, where the stamps are genuine, the various colours for the same denominations represent different issues, some of them dating long after 1866; and I trust that this new classification will so simplify matters as to make the study of the lovely old stamps of Kashmir a comparatively easy matter. I do not at all flatter myself that I have thoroughly mastered the subject, but only that I have advanced it by a stage beyond the point where Major Evans left it.
First of all, I take the liberty of removing from the lists all the long cherished circular half-anna and four-anna stamps of the so called “Die I” type, also the stamps in many colours from the so called rectangular “one anna single die,” giving my reasons in a future chapter. With their removal, several of the bewildering colours will disappear temporarily or permanently. I will next ask my readers to master a general idea of the issues by remember the following main facts:
(1) The earliest postage stamps of Kashmir, issued in 1866, were impressions from only one set of Circular dies, viz. the half-anna and one-annas known in the catalogues as Die II, and the four-anna which has hitherto been classified with the so-called Die I types. These stamps were used both in the Jammu and Kashmir Provinces. [Copyist’s note: I have transcribed this paragraph as Masson wrote it. We recall that Masson had the 1a and 4a denominations reversed.]
(2) On the introduction of rectangular stamps, two sets of plates were engraved, of which one was reserved for the Kashmir Province and the other for the Jammu Province, the issues thus bifurcating.
(3) The Jammu Province, however, continued to use circular stamps, side by side, with its rectangular stamps, and in the same colours for both circular and rectangular.
(4) The bifurcation of issues, for the two provinces, reunited in the issue of 1878, known as the “first new rectangulars,” all circular and the old rectangulars ceasing with the issues of 1877.
The above classification is, as I have said, a general one. As a matter of fact there was naturally an overlapping of the circular with the rectangular issues in both provinces in 1867 or occasionally even later, and in the case of the Jammu Province I believe that the circular stamps were obsolete, for a year or more, before their re-introduction. Again, the new rectangulars of 1878 were issued in a separate colour for each province, though both colours were very soon used indiscriminately in either, and the first uniform issue for both provinces was that of 1879; but these are details that can be mastered later on.
Next, as regards colours, I have classified these under three headsexperimental, standard and superfluous. The experimental or earliest colours were generally used only for a few months; the standard were the colours finally chosen as the permanent onesand, in the case of the rectangulars of both provinces, as well as the re-issue of the circulars, they were steadily adhered to for about 10 years; the superfluous appeared for the Jammu circulars and rectangulars only) in 1875 or 1876, supplementing (but not superseding) the standard colours sparingly during 1875(?) and 1876 and more generally in 1877. The superfluous colours were, I believe, adopted under the “gentle influence of philately,” and all that can be said in their favour is that they gave us the superb emerald-green and bright-blue stamps, which, when genuinely used, are amongst the Kashmir collector’s greatest treasures.
Before procedding to describe the stamps of the first period I think it will be well to mention the obliterations that were then in use, because I shall from time to time have to refer to them. The obliterations for the second period, 1877-1894, will be taken up on the second part of the Hand Book.
As regards the State Post Offices, nothing could exceed the simplicity or consistency of the obliterations. At Srinagar (Kashmir) the obliterator was a circular seal, about 19 mm in diameter, bearing an inscription (always illegible) finely cut in Persian characters. This was impressed on the stamps in a brick-red pigment. The impression is sometimes fairly clear, showing the outline of the seal, but it is more often a mere circular dab of colour, and sometimes (from the material being too liquid) it is little better than an oil stain. This obliteration was used throughout the whole period of the circulars and old rectangulars, 1866-77. Occasionally a stamp posted at Srinagar may be found bearing the same obliteration in black; but these are stamps posted out of their period (after 1877), the black obliteration having been introduced simultaneously with the appearance of the new rectangulars.
[Copyist’s note: The following insert is made on account of a correction made by Masson in Part II of his work.] The more elaborate arrangement of my stamps on originals enables me further to correct a slight mistake. At page 5 of Part I, I stated that stamps of the Srinagar issue, bearing a black obliteration from the circular seal of the State Post Office, must have been posted after their period; and it is true that such stamps posted within a year after the introduction of the New Rectangulars would bear this obliteration. But I now find that the change to black from brick-red in the obliteration was first introduced so early as November 1877, well before the close of the circular and Old Rectangular period, and that stamps bearing it were, therefore, not necessarily posted after their period.
In Leh-Ladakh (included in the Kashmir province) a similar seal and colour were used at the State Post Office, but the seal was soon replaced by a much larger one, about 28 mm in diameter, without any change in colour. This change was probably considered necessary to distinguish the obliterations of Srinagar from those of Leh, because at the time there were no other postmarks. At Jammu there was a little more variety in the obliterations. Throughout the period of the first circular issues, and two first rectangular issues (in black and blue in succession), that is to say from 1866 till the middle of 1868, the obliterations were from a seal similar to the Srinagar one (but with the Persian characters more boldly cut) the impression being, however, in magenta. Soon after the introduction of the standard colour of red for the Jammu Province stamps, about June 1868, the impression was of necessity changed to black. At the beginning of 1870 the circular seal was changed for a square one, measuring about 19 mm, having rounded corners, and this was continued throughout the remainder of this period.
At the British Post Office, at Srinagar, the earliest obliteration was from a rather rough combined
datestamp and obliterator, composed of a circle and square. The former bore the words “Cashmere Post Office”
round the edge, in circular form: the latter was composed of two squares, within each other, the inner
one enclosing a large capital C, and the outer being made up of diminishing lines. This was used to obliterate the
Indian stamps; and a similar date stamp, without the attached obliterator, was used to obliterate the Kashmir
stamp when the cover bore no Indian one. These forms of obliteration were adhered to throughout the years
1867-70. Thereafter, for some years, the British postal authorities do not seem to have considered the
Maharaja’s interests, as the State stamps were seldom obliterated at all, though the want was often supplied
by impressions of the Punjab Post Offices, especially those of Sialkot and Amritsar.
About 1873 a new set of postmarks was introduced, consisting as before of a date-stamp and a
combined date-stamp and obliterator, the use of the two stamps being differentiated as before. In this set the
word “Cashmere” occupies the upper half of one circle in circular form, the remainder being reserved for the
date, which however was seldom inserted. The other circle was occupied by the figures 325 within a double
square as before. About the same time a small triangular postmark was used, for some special purpose, having
the word “Cashmere” along the base and the date above, this and the last mentioned sometimes appear on the
In 1876 [May 1875, ed.] another set of postmarks was introduced, the date-stamp circle having the new
Hunterian spelling “Kashmir” across the centre, with the day and month (but not the year) below; the
obliteration portion was made up of a square of parallel bars, having the figure 5 at the top, and L-6 along
[The preceding] were used as before until the end of the old rectangular periodand indeed well into the new rectangular period.
At the British Post Office at Leh (Ladakh) there was a separate circular date-stamp, bearing the word LEH
across the centre, and the date (but not the year) below.
There was also a square, barred obliterator, similar to the Srinagar one last mentioned, but it bore the
figure 3 above and L-3 across the centre. The obliterations from the latter were generally in a sooty-grey,
and are seldom legible.