The ¼a Plate

Jammu Printings  Srinagar Printings


A native quarter-anna would pay the matching rate on British postcards, which were introduced to the State in April 1880. That sum had also been the visitors’ half-rate for an outgoing letter from Srinagar carrying British postage. We recall the ¼a+2a Kashmir plate for the half-rate duty on regular and registered mail, but there was no analogue to this plate at Jammu in the old period. A preferential rate for Srinagar alone was bound to change. It is best to pick up the story from Staal’s account (p. 120), which was itself drawn from Garratt-Adams’ speculative reconstruction in Philatelic J. of India 51 48 (1947). It may be that Srinagar wanted in situ use of the ¼a new plate for its 1880 tourist season, and a few curious ¼ blue watercolors on bâtonné paper were evidently produced there with the plate still in its State I condition. Examples of these both used and unused can be seen in Lots 311-13 in the Sturton Sale catalogue, one of which is shown downscreen. All a bit of a fuss, however, for by the following spring all the printing implements at Jammu, old and new, were removed for good to Srinagar, so the tradition tells us, where the new plates soon assumed their State II conditions. Letter code N.


The Jammu Printings 1878-81

The Jammu Blacks: The ¼a black on white laid paper. This low denomination in the officials is not listed in SG; however a used example on an (undated?) fragment is chronicled for 1878 in Lot #133 in the Eames sale. Why were officials being used in the quarter-anna denomination at all? They show up again in the Srinagar-printed period, and also as Pratap.


The Jammu Reds: Why did Jammu print ¼a reds as early as May 1878, while producing none in Kashmir blue for the tourists up north? The Haverbeck auction Lot 1470 chronicles a ¼a red on native paper, possibly a printers’ proof. The ¼-a plate, not needed for much otherwise at Jammu in the early period, might then have assumed duty as a testing plate.



Laid paper. The scan is the ¼a dull vermilion on medium laid paper, 1878. A rare perforated variety (in some shade) is catalogued without pricing.

Medium and thick wove papers: A ¼a red on medium wove paper is catalogued, 1879. A variety on very thick wove paper, date uncertain, but probably also 1879, is attested in two copies, and perhaps also experimental. Boggs referred to it as a uncataloged variety in his 1941 article. It is unmentioned in Séfi & Mortimer, SG, etc., but it is included in the Staal checklist. A copy is shown with photo in the Haverbeck auction, Lot 1474.



Thin wove paper. Paper manufacturers sometimes embossed their stock for purposes of inventory. The example above, showing the unlikely date 1877, was upside-down in the lower-right corner of a ¼a sheet, which the catalogue would suggest was an 1879 issue. If so, the paper predates the advent of the New Rectangulars themselves by at least a year. The year 1877 was in fact the date of the stamp-printing establishment at Jammu of the new Ranbir Prakash press. It is interesting, given their early availability and their ultimate triumph, that thin wove paper had not been exploited more in the transition period from the old to the new regimes.


The Srinagar Printings 1881-94

Srinagar printings come a bit early for this plate: The ¼a ultramarine watercolor on thin bâtonné paper known in the spring and summer of 1880. The reason is that Srinagar may have had special loan of the ¼a-plate for that year’s visitors season. The following provisional was produced in small quantities:


An Amritsar-bound ¼a British postcard, 24 April 1880 at Srinagar, with matching native postage, Sturton Lot 313.


The twosome shown above were lot 311 in the Sturton sale, where the unused copy is rarer still. A unique cancelled vertical pair making for a total of one-anna is in the Hellrigl collection. Séfi and Mortimer report a copy with border design that reveals the plate to be indeed in its State I condition, as would be expected from the story as it comes to us. The border design seen above does not make a test, alas, for that is the middle subject at the top of the plate.



The ¼a orange on thin toned wove. Orange is always telling of printing at Srinagar, and all will come on State II of the plate.


Srinagar-printed singles in red (and of course also black) on the thin woves can often be distinguished from Jammu-printed material only by the presence of plate-state II conditions. Here it is not only the State-II screw-head artifact on the upper-right corner that tells the tale, but also the particularly rough yellow-toned nature of the paper.


Srinagar productions are far more prevalent than the Jammus, and they come in a far wider range of tempers, demeanors, and paper. The three preceding reds are all bundled together in the Gibbons and other catalogues under a single number.



The Srinagar blacks also exist on the usual spread of papers, coarse and fine toned woves, but again we sometimes need plate-state information to distinguish the Jammu and Srinagar printings. Even the black pigmentation varies to a noticeable degree, though sometimes just what some difference exactly is can be difficult to put into words.



The ¼a black on coarse, yellow-toned thin wove. There is a papermaker’s control embossment (scan below) in the upper-right corner.


A blow-up detail from the preceding sheet to show the “1885” Control, shown here because that date is hitherto unreported.



The thin, smooth, bright (or “pure”) white paper issues appear from 1889. The Haverbeck auction catalog (Lots 1546-7) claims that only two full sheets are attested. There would seem to be more surfacing.



A ¼a connected to a partial impression from the 1a plate, inverted. This topic is dealt with in ► Séfi & Mortimer. It is important to realize that the examples shown in that work are reconstructions: the twinned stamps were not actually present in full, but only partially, as in the example above (which, by the way, is a configuration not mentioned by those authors.)


The New Colors: The theme color for the ¼a was brown, which appears through a multi-dimensional continuum of shades, from a kind of bleak grey to a rich lake-brown via who-knows-what with purplish persuasions.


The ¼a brown on thin, yellowish-toned wove and a ¼a chocolate on thin white paper. Some detail of both screw heads on the right side of the plate is sometimes visible in the heavier inkings; in others the spaces are empty.


The ¼a brown on thin laid paper (the Partap Singh issue of 1887.) The same comes catalogued in the rare ¼a red-brown, priced only used. Séfi & Mortimer also report another chocolate, rare on the laid paper.

There is a catalogued ¼a green on thin wove that is not known in postal use. SG refers to it as an “error.” This we have placed on the New Rectangulars ► Non-postals page.

To top of page