A modern and important discussion of the papers is carried out by Tim Eames in India Post 28, 49-52 (1994). An older discussion by Séfi & Mortimer is accessible in this ►on-site link, which includes a summary of Evans’ 1903 treatment and the matter of the sheet ►watermarks.
Watercolor stamps appear on a sturdy, thick striated paper called native, local, or Indian paper. Our pet name for it is papyrus. It is not the same as the India paper, also called China paper, mentioned in older philatelic literature. Thicker samples of the paper can be somewhat springy and it is relatively resistant to tearing. Though the striations may on occasion be a little difficult to make out, it is not difficult to distinguish this paper from the competition, namely European laid papers and a variety of woves.
Native paper thickness: The thickest section we have measured is ~ 0.26 mm and it doubtless comes thicker. By contrast, the thinnest of the thin woves approaches a tenth of this value. Nothing about chronology is safely asserted from the evidence of native paper thickness since a single sheet may show wide variation across it, as sample sheets in Masson’s book attest. Paper thicknesses are important, however, among the New Rectangulars.
By the way, we definitely recommend Precision Graphic Instruments, Inc. as a supplier for the North American market of analog and digital micrometers for measuring the thickness of paper. An uncertainty range of 0.01 mm (a 10 micron range) is satisfactory.
For some interesting details about the paper-making process, do check out the section in Staal’s book. Masson notes that the paper manufacture in Kashmir at the time of his writing was carried on in the tahsīl Naoshahr (on the road to Ganderbal, he says) and also in the State Central Jail at Srinagar.
European laid paper is first seen postally in 1877. It tends to be thinner, smoother, and less springy than the native paper. The lines are more regular and more evenly-spaced than those seen in the bumpier striations of the native papers.
The thickness of European laid paper actually matters. On the left is an item from 1878 that was printed on “medium” European laid paper, which comes in the range 0.10-0.12 mm. Such a thickness stands in important contrast to the much thinner paper of the ‘Prataps’ that appeared a decade later in the ~0.05 mm range (item above right). Thanks to the catalogue the paper of the latter is known as “creamy laid.” With regard to either texture or color, this term is a bit puzzling to us. Cream from the Kashmir ibex is yellow perhaps? Or maybe this paper has just greatly yellowed over the many decades and the old name has stuck. These thin laids will be from plates showing characteristics of the late plate-states, witness the screw impression in the border, whereas the medium laids will be in the earliest states of the plate, i.e., no screwheads.
Above: A range of laid papers are also found among period forgeries and later. A notable type is this very soft, white laid on a mirror reversed forgery. Collection Lunn.
Wove papers, also introduced experimentally in 1877, come in a broad range of toning, coarseness, and thickness. Thin papers appear in the 0.05 mm range, mediums in the 0.10 mm range, and thick papers (most uncommon) come greater than 0.12 mm. The only known wove among the issued circulars is a rare thick, coarse, brownish wove, known in the literature as “sugar-wove”. It was not used for any New Rectangular. It is known from a few singles and a half-dozen covers in April 1878.
Some of the thin woves are yellow-toned, as here, others are grey-toned. There is a marked range of smoothness, fine to rough, in both tone types. Except for the tinted varieties of paper (shown downscreen a bit) such distinctions of toning and character are not distinguished in the mainstream catalogs, though the paper differences alone obviously make for some starkly diverse material, some of which is much scarcer than other.
The late bright white variety of smooth wove paper known from 1889. It is also found in some of the late forgeries, as seen in the missing-die forgery of the 1a circular, which is presumed to date from the same period.
Above: An example of the grey-toned thin wove paper. This item was printed at Srinagar in the early 1880s, and some of that stock was re-issued in the ‘90s (i.e., not reprinted).
The tinted woves are confined to the 2a values of the New Colors regime that began in 1883. The colors (being reds in this case) are not exactly “new”, but the papers made the stamps something of a novelty at the time.
On the left is yellow-tinted thin wove. This example is in a very thin (~ 0.04 mm), fine, and almost transluscent paper, like certain smooth tissue papers. The pigments used sometimes seem rather thick and oily, and invariably of a orange-red hue. There is virtually a continuum of these tints from the purer yellows, through yellow-greens (as shown on the right) to the outright greens shown next. As to dating, the yellow-greens may have been the earliest type, with purer yellows appearing late.
The green wove papers are decidedly scarcer than the yellower papers and come in a range of thicknesses, from remarkably flimsy indeed (~ 0.03 mm) to thin (~ 0.05 mm). The tinting makes even more difficult than usual any judging of the shades of the red pigments. As to datings, there is a discussion in Séfi & Mortimer in this ►on-site link.
This example shows distinctive printings of the 2a on a thicker (~ 0.08 mm), coarse, opaque version of the yellow-tinted paper. These are known on cover in the 1892-94 period.
According to the Stamp Collector’s Encyclopaedia, the papers known as pelure (from Latin pellis ~ skin) are strong, thin, translucent papers with a barely perceptible wove or laid pattern. Any printing clearly shows through from the back. Such papers are known in some of the experimental printings of 1877. The tinted woves mentioned above are sometimes called ‘semi-pelure’. They are not so tough as full-fledged pelures, and their transparency owes as much to their thinness as to an inherent translucence.
Bâtonné paper comes in both laid and wove forms. It is characterized by a set of prominent and widely-spaced parallel lines superposed on the basic wove or laid pattern; in the case of the latter these lie either parallel to or perpendicular to the much more narrowly-spaced laiding lines. A type of smooth writing paper known as “cream laid” is often bâtonné. Quadrille paper bears a two-way bâtonné pattern, but such is not known in the Kashmir material.