§3 Stamps Catalogued as of 1878

Text: From The Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir Part II by D.P. Masson, pp 10-13.

On the introduction of the new rectangular stamps, it was intended to continue the old practice of having distinctive colours for each Province, and for about a year this practice was undoubtedly adhered to at least as regards the ½a stamps. I have examined many of these, on originals [i.e., covers] and have found that practically all the slate-blues were posted in the Kashmir Province and all the reds in the Jammu Province. [Masson footnote: From July 1879 the red ½a stamp was used also at Srinagar, and it soon superseded the blue stamp.] It should be noted here, to the credit of the postal officials, that the colour of the old rectangulars was in these two cases continued for the new stamps. How different this from the course ascribed to them by specialists in Europe, of having printed off stamps in any colour that happened to come handy! In another respect, too, the course adopted in printing the old circular and rectangular stamps was undoubtedly continued in the new, for the red stamps of the Jammu Province continued to be printed in oil-colours, and the Srinagar blues in water or fugitive colours). In all probability the 1a and 2a mauve and blue stamps were also intended for the Kashmir Province, and the stamps of these denominations in red for the Jammu Province: this would leave the stamps of the latter Province all in red, as was the case in the time of the old rectangular standard stamps, and all the stamps of the Kashmir Province in blue and mauve.

The new 4a and 8a stamps were brought into use later than those of the lower denominations: it is probable that by the time they were first printed it had already been decided to print only in red, which would account for there being no blue or mauve impressions from that plate. I have not, however, been able to examine such a number of these stamps on originals as would enable me to come to any definite conclusion as to the use of the higher value stamps, and my remarks regarding them are only suggestions. Indeed, whatever the original intention with regard to these may have been, it is far from unusual to find red and blue 1a and 2a stamps on the same envelope, especially in 1879 and 1880.

While I mention these facts to explain the difference of colour in the same year—differences which, in the new stamps, have puzzled students just as in the old, though in both cases they are capable of explanation—I will no longer separate the issues, for I believe that both colours were soon used indiscriminately in each Province, until red prevailed as the colour for both.

In the catalogues the stamps on thin paper, classed as of 1879, are shown as the first uniform issue for both Provinces: but in my opinion the unification occurred in the ordinary laid and wove stamps, and the only change at the end of 1879 was one to a thinner paper. This latter change, too, was made only in response to many complaints about the difficulty of affixing the thick stamps to the envelopes, for they were not gummed on the back.

The new rectangular stamps were introduced in the Jammu Province on or about 1 May 1878, presumably after the stock of circular oil-colour stamps had been exhausted. From this date until the end of the following August all the ½a stamps used at Jammu were perforated. (It will be remembered that these stamps were in red). Unperforated ½a stamps were first used at Jammu at the beginning of September 1878*, and they soon superseded the similar perforated ones.

Masson’s footnote: *To disarm possible contradiction on this point, I may mention that I possess two of these stamps, unperforated, on envelopes dated 2 and 6 Chet 1935, corresponding to our 20 and 24 March 1878. These puzzled me, because they would bring back the first use of new rectangular stamps by six or seven weeks, and of the unperforated stamps by nearly six months. After a deal of thought the solution suggested itself to me: Chet being the first month of the Hindu year, the writers made the mistake of continuing the use of the past year, writing 1935 for 1936, just as we by oversight often do in the first few days of our new years. [Copyist’s note: The matter can been resolved without recourse to the scribal-error gambit; the writer of the letter was simply using the solar convention, the prevailing postal practice in Jammu and Kashmir, in which “Chet” is the last month, not the first, of the Hindu calendar.]

I can give no dates for the use of the red perforated stamps of the higher denominations, for, as stated in the preceding chapter, I have not seen used copies. I would, however, mention that the perforated ½a stamp re-appeared for a short time in November 1879, suggesting that one more attempt was made to utilize the perforating machine before it was finally abandoned. These later-used stamps are rare: they are distinguishable by their barred obliteration, all the 1878 ones bearing the square black obliteration (Mohr Ahan Khan, see Part I).

The new rectangular stamps were not introduced at Srinagar until the end of August 1878, four months after they had been in use in Jammu. The explanation of this is mentioned in Chapter I. No doubt there was a large stock of the old rectangulars at Srinagar, which it was decided to use up before the new ones were introduced. The comparatively late introduction of the new types at Srinagar explains the extreme rarity of the perforated ½a red of Jammu: the former stamp came into use just as perforation was being abandoned, and but few would have been so treated, whereas, as I have shown, the ½a red perforated stamp was the only one of that denomination used at Jammu for four months.

The stamps on thick paper (ordinary laid and wove) were used at Jammu up to the beginning of November 1879, and at Srinagar up to June 1880. I have copies of the higher values used so late as April 1881. On the other hand, I have a 1a red stamp, on thin wove paper, undoubtedly used so early as 07 November 1878, and I have a perforated ½a stamp on the same paper bearing the square black obliteration, and which therefore was presumbably used between May and September 1878, while stamps were so obliterated. There was undoubtedly an occasional interchange or overlapping in the thick and thin papers, suggesting that the change to thin paper was decided upon soon after the introduction of the stamps, though those on thick paper were used up first. On the whole it seems to me misleading to classify the stamps on thick paper as of 1878 and those on thin paper as of 1879. I think that all should be shown as of 1878-83, and I shall so list them.

§3' Stamps Catalogued as of 1879

Text: From The Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir Part II by D.P. Masson, pp 13-14.

There is little to add about these. They were printed in red for all denominations, on various kinds of thin wove paper, which might correctly be catalogued yellowish to white as in the case of the 1883-94 issues. The rare orange shades were mostly used from July to December 1881: in September of that year, especially, orange was the prevailing shade in the ½a stamp.

The ½a stamp blended in the 1883-94 issue, there being no change of colour, in this denomination, and only those bearing the earliest postmarks can be identified as belonging to the earlier issue. The 1a stamp overlapped the stamp of similar value of the 1883-94 issue by about a year. My latest 1a red stamp was used in May 1884, while my earliest 1a green of the succeeding issue was used on 1 June 1883.

In the higher values there was a greater overlapping still, for the 2a, 4a and 8a stamps were often used as late as 1892 or 1893. Either there was a reprinting of these stamps, or a considerable number were kept up and used late in the period of the next issue. [Copyist’s note: Folks speak of “reissues” here, with no new printing implied.]

A very puzzling stamp of this period is the rare ¼a ultramarine on thin paper. I cannot but think it was meant to form part of the blue Srinagar series.

I should mention that I have seen stamps of 1878-83 halved vertically and horizontally (but not diagonally) and used for stamps of half their face value. From enquiry on the spot I know that this course was officially sanctioned when post-offices ran out of stamps of the lowest values.

► Rectangulars of 1883-94.

To top of page