This is our first gathering of British postal markings that were used within the J&K State borders, but outside the central node of ► Srinagar, which needs a page of its own. We have also placed the regional ► 3-Ring type of the so-called “unified” postal period (1891-94) in a page of its own. For some venues, the 3-ring type was used contemporaneously with the post-1891 circular datestamps shown on this page. We do not know on what basis the one class of marking took precedence over the other.
According to Séfi & Mortimer, there were only four post offices operating within the State in the early stamp period, namely a native and a British office at Srinagar and a counterpart pairing at Leh in Ladakh. (Which is also to say: none at Jammu until much later). The early history of the British office at Leh is murky, and we are not aware of actual British postal markings from that period. A new sub-office opened at Leh a decade later, in autumn 1876.
Postal markings alone, either native or British, cannot always be relied upon for identifying covers that originated at Leh. The key for identifying that particularly interesting subset of covers is invariably the Persian rendering of Ladākh (and az Ladākh) shown above. In fact I’ve never knowingly seen a rendering “Leh” in any script, well, save English.
First LEH datestamp. This marking is attested for more than seven years between October 1876 and March 1884, and is thus found with watercolors, oilcolors, and both Jammu- and Srinagar-printed New Rectangulars. Shown above are two shots of it, with and without a dot after the name. A digital mask finds good coincidence of the letter configuration (note, for example, the backslant to the L) and good positioning of the word within the circle to a precision that would be most unlikely if the cuttings were actually different. The dotted-Leh shown here is from either August 1878 or 1879, that is to say, early compared with the other from 1883, admittedly a rather late case. We should now like to bracket the time within which the dot disappeared. The dot was definitely already gone in March 1882. Despite its longevity, this marking is rather scarce and must be distinguished from the more commonly-seen version with smaller lettering, higher positioning (and definitely no dot) that superseded it in March 1884. The later version contains a year date, or at least the space for the missing year date.
The Leh L-Bar in Square. Séfi & Mortimer report this marking from as early as 1880 in registration usage and is known to spring 1884.
Leh L-bars in oval. Drawings from Séfi & Mortimer, their Types 45 and 46, and we quote: “The only two examples known to us of Type 45 (1886) are on covers dated, respectively, 6 and 16 August 1886. Both covers also show the [second LEH circle] and in both cases the Imperial stamp is cancelled with a postmark of Kullu, which is a town in Kangra Valley, British India. Of Type 46 (1890), at present a single example only appears to be known. This is also in company with the postmark of the [second LEH circle], and dated 17 August 1890.”
Second LEH circle. This type, which appeared in March 1884 and lasted beyond the closing of the native posts, is distinguished from the earlier version by the slightly smaller lettering situated slightly higher in the circle, and usually by the presence of the year. The early type never has year dates, while the later type often does, as in the scan above, which shows an 1890 use with re-issues.
The year is normally missing for 1886 (scan above) and 1888, and sometimes in 1885; the example of the type given on Staal p.138 does show an 1885 dating.
The Registration type for Leh is known between 1885 and 1906. The example on the left is from an 1885 cover (as per notation on the piece) and the example on the right, in a different cutting, was taken from a Leh-to-Stockholm cover dated 17 September 1906.
Though it is about a decade beyond our time period, we cannot resist showing a Zanzibar to Leh registered cover. Of course there were by now no Kashmir stamps to add to the envelope. The letter was despatched from Zanzibar on 29 June 1904, destined to Srinagar “VIĀ INDIA” (with due notice of the Latin ablative, such were the days). It reached Bombay on 17 July, found no one at home in Srinagar five days later, and so was forwarded to Leh, arriving there after another five days. The Zanzibar postage showing here (not an adhesive) is the Zanzibar postal stationery 2as for registration. A vertical pair of Zanzibar 1a rose-red adhesives (SG 211) appeared on the front of the cover; these were cancelled once with the same cancellation as seen above. The letter was likely brought home to Africa on some cheerful Edwardian day, for this cover found its way to a Johannesburg dealer. Now it resides for a spell in Alberta, Canada, before it wends onward again.
And speaking of Edwardian Leh postal markings finding themselves in exotic locales, we must show you these and the following image. The type on the right above is a detail from a Leh-to-Stockholm cover dated 17 September 1906. The other on the left reveals that there are different cuttings of the basic type, this from an 1886 cover as per notation.
A rare usage (taken from the internet with our thanks) of the surcharged Victoria used long after its original date of issue (1891).
April 1891 was an unusually active one for new postal markings and provides a natural juncture for what might be called the Late Period of our subject. Jammu becomes a Head British PO, and the new spelling JUMMU begins from this time.
This JUMMU in the “Tavi” format, replaced the earlier TAVI JAMMU-STATE in April 1891. Others pertinent to J&K are inscribed SRINAGAR, DOMEL, and BARA MULLA.
The curved JUMMU delivery stamps come also in both 1ST and 2ND DELY versions. The latest we know for the 1ST DELY is 28 Oct 1894, very close to the end of our story. We have seen these only on Punch material. Are they known from other venues?
The curved JUMMU with fleuron also appeared in the REG[istration] form, this example from a 13 July 1894 Punch cover. There is also a scarce JUMMU PAR[cel], dates here unknown. On the right is another type of curved JUMMU, but without fleuron: this Z-type known in September 1894. There are also W- and Y-types, but no X-? We do not know what these letter distinctions were for.
The rare RESIDENCY JUMMU, seen here for 28 October 1894, two days before the closing of the native post. This scan is from Masson II. Like the Tavi type, the design motif combines datestamp and obliteration bars into a “uniplex.”
The R/JUMMU registration seal shown above may also have first appeared from spring 1891, but the example here is late, from 30 March 1903. We do not know whether there were different cuttings over that long period.
Gulmarg was a popular mountain retreat 32 miles or so from Srinagar. From the summer of 1884 it supported a sub-post office of the British Srinagar Office, and enjoyed the panoply of markings: two datestamps, its own L-bar, a Big-R registration seal, and a Postage Due cachet (in the blank-ANNAS format). Except for the one type we show below, they are evidently all rare markings.
The Gulmarg-Kashmir cds debuted in the summer of 1884.
By “Tavi” type, one refers to a distinctive datestamp with obliterator bars attached at the corners. The first in use may have been the TAVI JAMMU-STATE, seen with and without the bars. Others of the type pertinent to our concerns are known for Jummu, Srinagar, Domel, and Baramulla.
Tavi + Jammu-State cds is known from 1 January to 1 April 1891, both with and without the obliterator bars. Were indeed the obliterator bars separable?
Baramulla Tavi-type. Baramulla town is located about 34 miles west of Srinagar on the Jhellum. The Tavi-type shown here was known between July and late September 1892 (ref. Bard). Image Harmer’s March 2012.
The Baramulla Registration type may also be recorded only for the summer of 1892 (ref. Bard).
Domel is locted about 78 miles west of Baramula (112 miles west of Srinagar) along the Jhelum. A British Imperial Post Office was located there, only about a mile south of (what had been a native post office) at Muzeffarabad, which marking on right is found on the same postcard, an item in the Jaiswal collection.
Udhampur-destined, a town northeast of Jammu on the Banihal route. Yet another example of a relentlessly nondescript-looking item having some feature of note.
Now this is a pretty nice regional item (perhaps) that doesn’t bear internal British markings at all. But we place it here in the Regionals just in case the inscription on the left side in an old hand was so. Kargil is a welcome stopping point somewhere between Leh and Srinagar. It was cancelled at Srinagar, Jammu, and Sialkot before heading home to Brummie, a trip taking less than a month.
The GILGIT Head Office duplex with cresecent obliterator. It is known from 21 November 1892 and is absent by February 1894. Ref. Bard.
GILGIT cds with fleuron. Used as cds it is known from 21 February to 22 June 1893 (the example above). As a combined cds and obliterator, it is seen on 17 Feb 1894. Ref. Bard.
Rajouri B.O. Jummu, with no dating. The British Rajouri Branch Office, established by January 1895 after the closing of the native post, was on the runner line that stretched along the valley of the Tavi river between Nowshera and Thana Mundi. The strikes seen above on a block of ½a black officials are not highly visible from the front, and being of an oily character are much better seen in reversed form from the back. We have re-reversed the image for an easier inspection of the marking. A suggestion by Anthony Bard is that these datestamps lacking date-slugs may represent a fiscal use and that some native stamps may have served a revenue function before they were “sold off to the Good Reverend.”
Another after-hours affair is all we can show so far for the Banihal PO, which was on the route between Jammu and Srinagar. The scan is Séfi & Mortimer’s drawing, their Type 96.