§5 Service Stamps

Text: From The Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir Part II by D.P. Masson, pp 18-19.

These were printed in black, from all the new rectangular plates, including the special ¼a plate mentioned in the preceding chapter; but, I believe, these latter were never postally used, though I have seen several postmarked-to-order. I have personally made but little investigation regarding service stamps, as I have had no opportunity. But I believe the catalogue classification to be correct.

The 1878 service stamps, like their contemporary stamps for use by the public, were printed on stout white laid paper. [Copyist’s note: Often called ‘medium-laid’ in current parlance.] The later printings were on various thin woves, yellowish to white, with occasional printings on thin laid, also like the contemporary stamps for public use.

The catalogues list only three denominations on stout laid, but I have all six denominations on this paper. I have only the ½a, 1a, and 2a used; the others may have been printed in 1878, when ordinary stamps were being printed on the same paper, or they may have been printed with the 1883-94 stamps of stout laid mentioned in the preceding chapter. “Ordinary” stamps of the two higher denominations were undoubtedly printed on stout laid in 1878, though only the 4a stamp is listed. It is impossible to believe that only the upper part of the plate could then have been printed from, though occasionally later each half was printed from according to requirements. And there is no reason why service stamps should not, at the same time, have been printed exactly as stamps of the lower denominations were. I think, therefore, that the full complement of stamps on stout laid paper may be listed, just as on thin laid and thin wove.

[Masson’s Inserted Correction:] It should have been stated in the opening sentence of [this chapter] that there was no printing of Service Stamps of the value of ⅛a.

§6 Missing Dies and Forgeries

Text: From The Stamps of Jammu and Kashmir Part II by D.P. Masson, pp 20-23.

In §8 of Part I, I mentioned how many of the circular and old rectangular dies were duplicated by some unscrupulous postal official; and how impressions from these were sold to the unsuspecting public, or substituted in the State Treasuries for sheets of impressions from the genuine dies which had similarly been sold. A beginning was made in the same direction as regards the new rectangular plates, and naturally with the most paying denomination, the 8a. The engraver’s effort at reproducing the 8a plate of eight stamps will be found at the top of Plate VIII:

The plate is rough, especially in the beading which separates the stamps, and impressions from it can easily be distinguished from genuine stamps. No doubt we should have had a full complement of the new plates, just as of the old, had the Postal administration of the State not been taken over by the British authorities. As it is, I believe this 8a plate is the only one that was so engraved. It was printed from in red, to represent the 1879 stamps, and in blue, to represent the 1883-94 stamps. Many sheets of both colours were found amongst the remainders when the State administration of the Postal Department ceased. The genuineness of the stamps was never doubted by the British Accountant-General of the State, and I believe that many sheets must have been sold to dealers and the public. When I first expressed doubts about their genuineness I received the following opinion from a gentleman resident in Kashmir, who was understood to be the authority on the stamps of the State: “The 8a blurred dull blue is all right. The Accountant-General has several of them used, hundreds, or rather had them. There are red 8a also from the same block.” I have myself seen “used” copies, and I illustrate a single on Plate VIII. The obliteration is meant to represent the latest circular obliterations of the State post offices, but the lettering differs greatly from that of the genuine obliterators, as does also the spacing between the circles.

In forgeries we have a complete set from ¼a to 8a. (The ⅛a appears not to have been included, probably because it was considered altogether too unremunerative). These also I illustrate on Plate VIII, the five lowest stamps. [Masson’s footnote: * I am unable to illustrate the ¼a but I have seen copies.] Fortunately they are from single dies. Only a comparison with the various types on complete sheets will show the differences in the case of the ¼a, ½a, 1a and 2a stamps. In the case of the 4a stamp, detection is easy: on the genuine plate the five stamps on the upper row, and the first two of the lower row, have five dots arranged in a cross at the top of the inner oval, and the last two stamps have four dots [with the middle dot of the cross missing.] These dots are altogether omitted in the forgery. In the 8a stamp a character like the small “o” well above the line will be found at the position of one o’clock between the oval lines. In all types of the genuine stamp this character divides the space between those on its right and left. In the forgery it just touches the character on its left.

I believe that these forgeries date from after the time when the Postal administration was taken over by the British. But officers or employés of the superseded State Department undoubtedly had a hand in the swindle, for the genuine obliterators (which are all collected in the Jammu Treasury) were and probably still are freely used in obliterating the stamps. The favorite mode of faking was to affix one to five rupees worth of the stamps on a parcel label, just as had been the practice with the genuine stamps in the prepayment of parcels. This was much more remunerative than getting rid of one stamp at a time on a faked envelope.

The Big-D Forgery

But the most interesting forgery of all is one that did postal duty at Srinagar for thirteen months before it was detected or discontinued. I illustrate this stamp, a ½a on Plate IX:

Two dies appear to have been cut. The one to the left (No. 1 on the plate) was used first and very rarely in December 1889. It was roughly cut, and it must have been considered unsatisfactory, for it was superseded in the following month by No. 2, from a die much more successfully engraved. The latter, which I call the “big-D” type on account of the character at the position of five o’clock on the oval was used steadily and in considerable numbers throughout 1890 and up to February 1891 when it suddenly disappeared. All the stamps are in orange, the colour then prevailing in the genuine ½a stamp. But they are in watercolour, while the genuine stamps were in oilcolour, and the pigment is identical with that of the old rectangular 1a Kashmir stamp. All I have seen were used at the Srinagar British Post Office, where it was nobody’s business to see to the genuineness of the State stamps, but only of the Indian ones, as the forger no doubt well knew. I had an opportunity of showing the stamps to Mr Appleby, who had been Postmaster in 1889-90, and he said they would have been passed by him without question as he had not studied the State stamps sufficiently to see any differences. He confirmed my view that the stamps must be forgeries, indeed, there could be no doubt in the world about this, for there was no possible reason for a special stamp being used at the time.

Learning from Mr Appleby that a Kashmiri had been convicted of forging stamps about the time that these stamps were used, I lately spent a busy and successful afternoon in the Srinagar Courts, following up the clue. I found that the conviction took place in 1892, more than a year after the stamps had ceased to be used. (The forger had gained courage, and had attempted to pass his wares at the State post office). But the course of justice was slow in Kashmir in those days, and it is probable that the prisoner may have waited his trial for such a time. Through the courtesy of Mr Justice Mukerji, Chief Judge of Kashmir, I now have in my collections one of the forged stamps from the file in this case, namely the third stamp on Plate IX. It is of the 1a denomination, of just the same type as the stamps under discussion, and like them in watercolour. I think it is no great stretch of the imagination to give both stamps the same origin. [Editor’s note: A color copy of the 1a example is shown on the ► watercolor forgeries page.]

There is another point connected with the stamp from the Court file which makes it specially interesting to me. Instead of being of an orange shade, like my ½a stamps, it is identical in pigment [to the] bright vermilion colour with a single-die old rectangular stamp sent me by a leading London dealer. This is the third “hoary-headed impostor” described by me in Part I, Section 7, and it looks very much as if the forger had manufactured old and new rectrangulars simultaneously. The two forgeries which form the subject of these notes can easily be detected by measurement as well as from the pigment.

The dimensions of the genuine stamps are: Inner oval (width 11.75 mm, height 15.5 mm) and outer oval (width 18 mm, height 21 mm).

The dimensions of the No. 1 forgery are: Inner oval (width 14.5 mm, height 16.5 mm) and outer oval (width 20.5 mm, height 23.5 mm).

The dimensions of the No. 2 forgery are: Inner oval (width 13.5 mm, height 16.5 mm) and outer oval (width 20.5 mm, height 23.5 mm).

► Postcards.

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