§4 Rectangulars of 1883-94

Text: From The Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir Part II by D.P. Masson, pp 15-17.

Evidently the use of a uniform colour for all denominations, amongst an illiterate population, was found unsuitable, for in 1883 we find a totally new issue introduced, with a separate colour for each denomination. A new denomination of ⅛a appeared about the same time, probably with the introduction of postcards into Kashmir. The colours adopted were:

For the ⅛a, yellow; for the ¼a, brown; for the ½a, red; for the 1a, green; for the 2a, red—coloured paper being used for this stamp to distinguish it from the ½a of the same colour; for the 4a, green; and for the 8a, blue. There are many shades of all these colours, which a specialist can generally classify as successive printings. In the case of the 1a stamp, for instance, the earlier issues are in blurred grey, bronze-green and olive-green, very different indeed from the later issues so well printed in decided green. Similarly the early 4a stamps are all dark or olive-greens, and the later a brighter yellow-green. Again, the earlier 8a stamps were printed in a rich dark blue, and the later in brighter blues. Altogether the colours suggest to my mind the difference between the lovely vegetable dies of the old Kashmir carpets and embroideries as compared with the gaudy aniline dies now-a-days sometimes seen. Probably the change was one from locally made pigments to coloured printing inks of European manufacture. The older colours are in every case the rarer; they can generally be identified by the postmarks as well as by the shades. In the case of the 2a stamps the different printings can be distinguised by the colour of paper used. The paper for this stamp from 1883 to 1891 was yellow-green: the rare bright green paper was in general use only for about ten months, in 1888 and 1889, though I have seen occasional stamps on this paper used so late as 1891. The pure yellow papers were used from about December 1889. In the case of the ½a the colour changed periodically, as if each supply of pigment lasted only for six to twelve months, and the exact shade could not again be matched. It would be tedious to state the ruling colours from 1883 to 1894, and it would serve no useful purpose, but I may say generally that the period 1883 to 1888 was that of scarlet and sombre reds (with an occasional variety on soft blotting-like paper which seemed to absorb the ink); from November 1888, through 1889 and partly through 1890, the usual colour was a beautiful bright orange; in 1891 came the period of bright colours, which I may call the aniline die period.

I have sheets and used copies of this stamp in bistre, but these are very rare, and may be best classed as errors. I would similarly class a strip of the ¼a stamp in bronze green, which I have in my collection.

The catalogues include in this series a ½a stamp in blue, but I have never seen these used. I believe they must have been reprinted to order, probably in the hope that they might be undistinguishable from the similar stamp of the 1878 issue, the dealers’ stocks of which would by this time be running low. There is also a new type of ¼a stamp, which was printed in red from a block of eight stamps. This stamp is a puzzle because I can conceive no circumstance that could have called for a new type of any denomination at the time. I have never seen a copy genuinely used on an original, though I have seen several obviously obliterated to order. I would class it with the “missing dies,” were it not that the plate was handed over to the British authorities with the genuine ones, and that it shared defacement with them. The design is similar to that of the 4a and 8a stamps, and it was apparently cut by the same engraver.

As a general rule, the stamps of 1883-94 were printed on thin wove papers like those of 1879-83. But occasionally thin laid paper was used. I have copies of some of the denominations printed on ordinary and thick laid paper, on which the stamp has hitherto not been catalogued. These sheets were obtained from an old Treasury specimen book, kept by the Treasury Officer for reference and the purpose of comparison. The sheets were pasted into the book amongst the known issues on thin wove and thin laid papers, and I know they were printed long before the administration of the post office was handed over to the Indian Government. It seems to me that these must be counted genuine stamps though they are not known to have been used, and I therefore include them in my lists. I must confess, however, that the use of stout paper for the 1883-94 issues can at best have been only accidental, and the stamps “errors,” seeing that stout paper was undoubtedly abandoned permanently after the printings in 1878. [Copyist’s note: Masson’s ‘stout’ is usually called medium laid in the literature, and is not to be confused for another ‘stout’ of the catalogue.]

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