§1 Transitional Period Oilcolours

Text: From The Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir Part II by D.P. Masson, pp 1-6.

Introductory. The second part of my handbook would naturally open with the new rectangular stamps of 1878; but I am obliged to return to the subject of the circulars and old rectangulars, in order to mention some points that have become clearer since the publication of the first part.

For about ten years, from 1874 until late in 1884, the year of posting was dropped out of the Indian postmarks, the month and day of the month only being given. For the time of posting of my Kashmir originals in these years, I had to depend upon the vernacular dates that the writers generally added to the addresses. Until quite lately I was content to have these originals arranged in a rough and ready way, by years only (1923, 1924, and so on) transposing these years into the Christian ones by deducting 57, in the usual rough way. But I have since arranged each year by months, and as far as possible each month by its days, and I find I am able to give fuller information regarding the later issues, especially as regards the oilcolor stamps of 1877.*

* [Masson’s footnote:] In some cases I may still be fourteen days ‘out’ in transposing the Christian dates for the Hindu ones. This is due to the Hindu month being divided into halves, badi and shudi and the envelopes not showing in which half of the month the letters were written. Thus an envelope may bear the date 1st Poh 1923; this might mean 1st Poh badi, corresponding to our 22nd December 1866, or 1st Poh shudi, corresponding to our 6th January 1867. [Copyist’s Note: The site conversion utility gives 14 December for the former date, an eight-day discrepancy in itself.]

In high quarters these have been held up to execrations as pure and simple reprints, some of which got used by accident; but I have always combated this extreme view. The more moderate opinion was that both circular and rectangular supplemented but did not supersede the watercolour stamps, and this view was adopted by me.

After a most careful examination of several series of stamps, on originals, I am now able to say that the oilcolor stamps superseded the watercolour ones entirely, from July 1877, and that (with the exception of a few watercolurs used out of their time) they were the only stamps used in the Jammu Province until they in their turn were superseded by the New Rectangulars, ten months later, on or about 01 May 1878. I have also discovered that the circular oilcolor stamps, after being used rarely side by side with the oilcolor rectangulars (as was the case with the watercolour stamps, from 1869 or 1870 until July 1877) came into more general use from October 1877, and later, in January 1878, entirely superseded the old rectangulars. I am able to give the following detailed information as to the months in which the various stamps were in use:

• The Jammu plate in [a] red oilcolor was introduced early in July 1877, superseding the watercolor, as already stated, and were used until late January 1878. (An occasional stamp, used out of its time, may be found up to April of the same year, but their general use ceased as stated). The variety on European paper was used throughout the same period, but most frequently by far in October 1877. The Jammu plate in black oilcolor I have found used only for a few days, about the middle of January 1878, when the black circular stamps were generally used.

• The triplet of circulars in black oilcolor on both native and European papers were used rarely from July 1877, side by side with the red rectangulars; from October they were more generally used, and in January 1878 they entirely superseded the Jammu rectangular oil-stamps in black. [Copyist’s note: Current accountings do not recognize the 1a black oil circular on native paper except as a later reprint, and recognize no 1a or 4a at all in the laid paper.]

• The triplet of circulars in red oilcolors also appeared occasionally, and less rarely than the black stamps from July 1877, side by side with the main issue of Jammu rectangular reds. In March 1878 they superseded the black circular oils and became the only stamps used until the introduction of the New Rectangulars (01 May 1878). The varieties on European laid paper appear to have been used (in all denominations) only in April 1878. [? ed.]

It will be observed that the black circular oilcolor stamps established themselves pretty firmly, and even became the sole issue for a time. It will be seen later, however, that they owed this distinction only to the fact that the stocks were being used up to make way for the New Rectangulars. It is not so easy to fix the periods of the other “superfluous” color stamps, as I have been able to examine only a comparatively small number on originals:

The bulk of the green and blue circular oil-stamps were used in February, March, and April 1878, but some were used earlier, from August 1877. The preceding establishes three important facts:

(1) That watercolor stamps were entirely superseded by oilcolor ones in Jammu Province from July 1877, both as regards the circular stamps and the old Jammu rectangulars.

(2) That the two classes, circular and rectangular, continued to be used side by side (the former rarely) as was formerly the case with the similar watercolors.

(3) That for about three months, that is to say from the end of January 1878 until the New Rectangulars were introduced in the Jammu Province about 01 May 1878, only circular stamps were used in this province.

Now the first and second facts are natural enough, but how are we to account for the thrid, which was indeed a startling departure from the custom of the past ten years? I think the explanation is very easy, and that is simply this. In October 1877 the postal authorities decided to use up all the stocks remaining at Jammu, of both classes, and in whatever colors, to clear the way for the introduction of the New Rectangulars. They began with the black colors, and these were used side by side with the standard stamps (the Jammu plate red oilcolors) until the latter were exhausted in January 1878. Next these circular blacks were “used up” until they were exhausted about 01 May 1878, giving a clear field to the New Rectangulars from that date. The comparatively small supply of greens and blues were mostly used up in February, March, and April of that year. This explanation may be said to be only theoretical; but I hold that it is much more, that it is confirmed by the examination of scores of stamps on their originals, and this practically converts it into an established fact. It is further supported by the course undoubtedly adopted at the time in the Srinagar Province: here there were not stocks of superfluous or of oilcolor stamps on hand, as such had never been printed for use, but there was a considerable stock of the standard watercolors of the province, and these were used up until August 1878 (when the stocks were at last exhausted) although the New Rectangular stamps had already been in use at Jammu for three months before. Incidentally I would ask if we could have any more convincing condemnation of the stock of so-called old circular oil-stamps still available in the Kashmir Treasury. These are said to be genuine remainders, but I have shown that there were no remainders, all stocks of the old stamps having been used up before the New Rectangulars were introduced. They are pure reprints, printed years after the types had become obsolete. The differences between the stamps printed while the issues were current and the reprints are well known to most dealers. It may be said generally that the former were printed roughly, in a coarse pigment and the latter more clearly in printers’ ink.

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.

I would here like to add a few sentences regarding the origin of the so-called “superfluous issues,” both watercolor and oilcolor. They were printed between 1875 and 1878, and all are rare used, while many are rare unused, especially the rectangular emerald greens. The ½a red circulars and the ½a deep black are the least rare by far, owing to their having been in general use at the end of the period. I have already in Part I stated that in my opinion these superfluous issues were printed to supply the demands of philatelists. While they were being printed, an occasional stamp was used postally; and, as I have just shown, they came into general use in the remainders being used up from October 1877 to the end of April 1878. In my opinion the origin of the colors is as follows:

In 1875 dealers in Europe began to run short of the colors (then obsolete) described in Part I as “experimental issues” and they applied to Jammu to have their stocks replenished. They have been regularly supplied with the circular issues, hence the re-issue of circulars since 1869 or 1870. Some dealers applied for the Jammu blacks, hence the second issue of black Jammu rectangulars; others applied for the 1867 Jammu blues, hence the bright blues. This accounts for both the circular and rectangular stamps in these two colors, because I have shown that when any color was being used it was generally printed from both the circular dies and the rectangular plate. The emerald greens have next to be accounted for, no issue (except the 4a Srinagar stamp) having previously appeared in this color, and the Srinagar plates never having been used for re-issues, or at least any that were postally used. I believe this color was asked for by dealers who wanted so-called Die I sap-greens, then considered genuine stamps. This leaves only the yellow color to be accounted for, and this might well have been printed in meeting demands for the rarer orange shades. It would perhaps have been better if I had substituted “re-issues” for “superfluous colors,” as a title for these stamps.

► The New Rectangulars.

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