The Wonderful Native Postcard

As to postal stationery, we refer the reader to the J&K pages in the important Deschl reference: Comprehensive India States Postal Stationery Listing, Edward F. Deschl (1994), hardcover. The Mortimer & Séfi links are here: ► State Postcards and ► Checklist (not up-to-date).

We do not have an early date to report for the native postcard. Since an ⅛a stamp was intended to serve for the half-postage privilege accorded to visitors using the card for out-of-state sendings, and since that stamp is known first in 1883, the advent year of the New Colors, one supposes the card to have been part of this spate of hyperactivity—perhaps something to do with Krakatoa, which also exploded that year. It is interesting that the use of the ⅛-anna stamp for its intended primary function is rare indeed. Even the regular uses of the postcard and of the New Color stamps are relatively scarce in 1883.

The card comes in different plate states, sizes, papers, watermarking, colors, and shades. While most every card has its points of distinction, some two-dozen basic types should nicely cover the story for the medium-level fanatic. Some types of the card are rare, and there is doubtless scope for discovery. A few production anomalies are also recorded, such as a card printed on both sides, an example of which in orange is in the Harell collection. Bounce impressions of varying exuberance are also recorded. There is also the so-called “official” card printed in black, not known in postal use. The example below is from the Jaiswal collection:

The Dogri to the left of the sun emblem reads posţkārd kalamro ~ postcard of the realm. To the right: jammu kashmīr va tibbat hā, where ‘Tibet etc.’ refers to “Little Tibet,” i.e., Ladakh, Baltistan, etc. The second line reads: “is taraph sivā pate ke kuch na likhe’ ~ this side except address, do not write anything (ref. Staal p. 132). The denomination inscription in Persian (pāv ānā) can be found at the bottom of the coat-of-arms on the stamp.

The four main plate-states (I-IV) of the postcard plate owe themselves to the fact that the left-hand block of inscription (which includes the Dogra sun symbol within it) started shifting downward relative to the block of inscription to the right. Cards were printed from it some unknown number of times even after the configuration became perilously askew (State III). Finally, State IV, a repairing rivet was driven into the left section to bring it back up and secure it in the original alignment. It is characterized by the pigment dot lying to the lower-left of the sun. The seeming absence of states intermediate between II and III suggests that the main slip was abrupt.

While dating of the repair is difficult because older card stock continued to be used throughout and beyond the course of the saga, it is likely that the repair itself was made in 1891. Séfi & Mortimer dare to mention January 11, 1891.

Some of the pigments are much like those used for the regular ‘red’ and orange postage stamps seen on covers in the mid-’80s. If so, such orange stamps may be of postcard vintage, i.e., not from the early stock of oranges.

Postally-used cards show a preponderance of 3-ring postmarks of the post-1891 period. While much of this late use is authentic, there is also a good deal of fraudulent play and productions of a merely philatelic nature:

Here is the parcel 3-ring on a card, anomalously addressed. But, no problem, this particular parcel didn’t have to be delivered.

An otherwise virgin card cancelled with the DAK JAMMU seal, which is attested in legitimate use only in the Old Period, i.e., to spring of 1878. The same marking is found on certain missing-die forgeries. We must have nicked the image of this card from the internet; our thanks. Image right: The purple strike of the seal in ink is a modern Staal-Sharma restrike of 1981.

There are several cases known in which the card was used after the closing of the Native posts, though not in any official capacity as carrying postage. The latest we have heard tell can be seen in the Blue Sale Lot 395, a March 1914 mailing to Salzburg, Austria, employing a pair of ½a George V. The card was from pre-rivet stock.

Defacement. This scan was taken from the b/w photograph on S&M’s Plate 46. An impression of the defaced postcard plate (one of ten prepared on wove paper) was offered in the Haverbeck auction, Lot 1596. Another impression can be seen in Staal p. 159, with the signature of a certain Rev. R.H. Knowles, one of those who presided at the defacement ceremony that solemn February day in 1898, four years after the closing of the Native posts.

Two of the 1981 Staal-Sharma restrikes of the postcard stamp itself. The one on the left, being defaced, was the one that had originally been part of the postcard plate. Though hard to see here, it does does show the same pattern of defacement gouges as in the preceding scan. The undefaced item on the right has no denomination inscription on the bottom. This basic arms design was also used with the telegraph stamps, but on those productions the denominations were inscribed at the sides.

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