[page 19]

Chapter IV.

A General Note on the Circulars and Old Rectangulars.
Engravers—Designs—“Seal” Obliterations.

The first adhesive stamps, following the Franks, were produced, in 1866, from three separately engraved circular dies.

They were quickly supplemented (in the case of Jammu), or superseded (in the case of Kashmir), by stamps, rectangular in shape, produced from other dies as well as from plates, these being known as the “Old Rectangulars” to distinguish them from the “New Rectangular” stamps by which they were, in turn, superseded in 1878.

Of these three groups, only the very early Circulars and the New Rectangulars were used jointly by both Provinces—the Circulars for about two years (1866-67), and the New Rectangulars for about sixteen (1878-94). During the intermediate period (1867-77) Jammu printed its own stamps from all three Circular dies and one small plate in Jammu City; and Kashmir also printed its own, at Srinagar, but from Old Rectangular dies and plates only. It does not appear to have been recorded as to where the Circulars were printed for the first two years, but it was, almost certainly, at Jammu where the circular dies were engraved. All other dies and plates were engraved at Srinagar.

The Engravers.

Three engravers produced the dies and plates of Jammu-Kashmir. The first of these, whose name is unknown, engraved the Circular dies only; the second, Rahat Ju, a seal-cutter of Srinagar, engraved the whole of the rectangular dies and plates with the single exception of a Composite Plate (4-Annas + 8-Annas) of the New Rectangulars, the engraver of which is also unknown. The latter also prepared a New Rectangular ¼-Anna plate from which no stamps were ever issued.

[page 20]
Rahat Ju preserved in a “specimen-book” a number of impressions from the dies and plates which he had engraved. All of these were obtained by Masson, who believed them to have been the earliest printings made. This opinion, as will appear later, was, to a great extent, a mistaken one, and led Masson to classify, as issued stamps, certain impressions which can now be proved to have been printed at much later periods than Masson had supposed.

The Designs.

The designs of stamps of Jammu-Kashmir (of any normal issue) are composed of lettered inscriptions and numerals in Dogra and Persian. These will be dealt with as they appear in the respective issues. We give here, however, for future reference, an indication of the arrangement of the characters and numerals.

The above illustrations shew the three denominations which appear in the centres of the Circular dies [respectively ½ anna, 1 anna, and 4 annas.]

The above enlarged illustration is [of] the three half-anna stamps of the Jammu Plate, and this arrangement of the inner oval was repeated, with certain modifications, in the inner ovals of all Rectangular stamps.

[page 21]

The above images shew the seven denominations of the New Rectangulars. The numerals [within the inner oval] are Persian and were placed at the bottom of the inner oval, instead of in the upper part, as in the Old Rectangulars. The ⅛-Anna (which is expressed as “half of quarter anna”) is only found in the New Rectangulars, the remaining six in the Old Rectrangulars of Kashmir. The Old Rectangular Plate of Jammu was made up of the ½-Anna and 1-Anna denominations only.

Watercolours and Oils.

From 1866 to 1878 all stamps were printed in watercolours, except for two years (1877-78) when Jammu printed its own special stamps in oilcolours. During the entire period all watercolour printings of both Provinces were made exclusively on native paper.

Oilcolours on European Papers.

In 1877-78 Jammu, for a variety of reasons which will be specified later, printed in oils both on native and European papers.

[page 22]

The Colours of the Stamps.

Circular stamps of the first two years, intended for joint use by both Provinces, were only printed in black or in blue. The purely Jammu circulars of the next ten years (1868-1878) were printed in various colours of which red was the standard one. During these ten years Jammu also printed from its one little plate, using the same colours as were employed for its circulars. In the latter period Kashmir used no circulars at all, but printed its own stamps (always in watercolours on native paper) from three dies and two Composite plates, a distinctive colour being allotted and retained throughout, for each of the six denominations provided. To this colour-retention there were only two exceptions—(a) that the ½-Anna was first die-printed in black and, later, in both black and blue, from a plate and (b) that the 1-Anna was printed from a plate, first in black, then (by error) in blue, and lastly, for some nine of the ten years, in shades of orange or red.


The cancellations found on the Circulars and Old Rectangulars are of two very distinct and equally important varieties, viz.: Obliterations and postmarks. Before considering these, it is essential to realise that they were applied by two distinct groups of Post Offices—Native and British.

Broadly speaking, Jammu possessed Native post offices only, the principal one being at Jammu City.

Kashmir (with which, for philatelic purposes, is included the perfectly distinct Province of Ladakh) had both Native and British Post Offices. At the commencement of the Posts in 1866, there were only four Post Offices in Kashmir—one British and one Native—at Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, and at Leh, the capital of Ladakh respectively.

During the Circular and Old Rectangular period (1866-1878) all native cancellations were in the form of obliterations, i.e.: permanent designs in native characters without any indication of the period of posting. These are known as the native “Seals.”

The British Post Offices in Kashmir, during the same...

[page 23]
...period, also possessed obliterators composed of some barred-design which included English letters or numerals, or a combination of the two; but in addition to these, the British Offices employed postmarks, which shewed the day, month and year of posting, though one or more were often omitted. The features of all these British cancellations will be specially noted in Chapter XIV. At present it is only necessary to bear in mind that many of them were contemporary with the “Seals” and are frequently found with the latter on the same covers. Kashmir pmks. were used solely on all inland letters (i.e., used inside the State and only handled by the State P.O.). When letters were sent to places outside of the State (i.e. to Br. India), the British P.O. handled them and then used their distinctive pmks., usually in addition to the Kashmir State cancellations already on them.

Pen-and-Ink Cancellations.

During the “Seal” period (1866-1878) the growth of the postal system entailed the establishing of other Native Post Offices, but as none of these received special obliterations, pen-and-ink cancellations were employed. Many Circulars and Old Rectangulars are found cancelled in this manner, and the cancellation, almost invariably, indicates postal use of the stamp. It was not until the introduction of the New Rectangulars in 1878 that we find any appreciable use of pen-cancellation for fiscal purposes.

The Seals of Jammu, Srinagar and Leh.

The seals of Leh may be dismissed, for the moment, in few words. They were two in number, one of small and the other of large size, and owing to the extreme irregularity of their employment, impressions are so rare that they afford little, if any, information. Both were circular in form and engraved with native characters; but no impression has yet been found sufficiently distinct to enable an opinion to be formed even as to the language and, still less, of the meaning of the characters, so that it has been impossible to illustrate either. They followed the practice of Kashmir in being, at first, stamped in red and, at a later period, in black.

[page 24]

The Seal of Srinagar.

Srinagar possessed a single seal only. In small circular form, with a diameter of 18 mm., it was struck on the stamp in brick-red for over eleven years (1866 until November, 1877), when a change was made to black, the latter continuing until the seal was superseded by a series of postmarks in native characters, some few months after the New Rectangular issue of May, 1878. It was engraved in Persian characters.

[Copyist’s Note: The b/w scan above is the pertinent detail from the authors’ Plate 2, Fig. 1, which is of that seal’s use in a pre-stamps franking in black. The authors erroneously claim that this same seal was used in brick-red (as per second scan) for the later obliteration of the early stamps. Though the inscriptions are the same on the two seals, namely munshīāk Srīnagar ~ Official Post Srinagar, the cuttings of the two seals are clearly different.]

The Seals of Jammu.

These were two in number, the earliest of which was circular and of the same size as that of Srinagar. From 1866 to the end of May, 1868, all impressions were struck in magenta. (Plate 2, Fig. 2.)

In June, 1868, this colour was superseded by black in consequence of red having been adopted for all Jammu stamps, it being, no doubt, considered that magenta would not be sufficiently visible. These black impressions continued until 1870. The characters of this Seal are also Persian.

Early in 1870 the second Jammu seal apeared and became obsolete at the same period in 1878, and for the same reason, as the seal of Srinagar. The form was a square of 19 mm., having rounded corners, and impressions were always in black for cancellation purposes.

Impressions were, however, struck in rose-red during September, 1877 to form provisional postage-stamps, the stamps being subsequently cancelled in black from the same seal. The inscription is in Persian, and reads, according to Dr. Grahame Bailey: “Seal of the iron of the mine of Jammu” or, as Masson put it, “Seal of the iron quarries.” The date engraved on this seal—1915—corresponds with our A.D. 1858, so that it was produced eight years before the first stamp-issue and, of course, for some purpose other than that of postage-stamp obliteration. The seals of Jammu, Srinagar and Leh were superseded in 1878-9 by a new series of obliterators and postmarks.

We here refer, for the first time, to the fact that the native year, as it appears engraved or in M.S., differs from that of the Christian era. It is frequently of great philatelic...

[page 25]
importance to translate the characters shewing the native year into its A.D. equivalent, and for doing this the reader is referred to Appendix “C” in which will be found a table by which any native year may be at once identified.

The Papers of the Circulars

(1.) 1866-1878. Native Paper.

The paper on which the first circulars were printed was manufactured by the State itself. It was the only paper employed, whether for Circulars or Old Rectangulars, from 1866 to 1878, with the exception of some European papers used by the Jammu Province in the last two years of this period.

Like all hand-made papers it was subject to wide fluctuations of thickness, great variation being not uncommonly found in different parts of a single sheet; this led Masson to point out the impossibility of attempts which were being made to base a chronological classification on the variations. (Part I, p.39.)

With some of the circulars in particular, the thickness almost amounts to thin card; while, on the other hand, Old Rectangulars of the Kashmir Province were frequently printed on varieties so thin as to produce an impression of pelure or tissue paper. These very thin papers do not occur with the Reprints or Official Forgeries, but a very thick paper is found, though rarely, with the former.

Hitherto the paper has been known as “native laid” owing to the “laid” appearance when viewed towards the light. It is not, however a true “laid” and throughout this work it will be simply referred to as “native laid.” In tone it is greyish or yellowish, the greyer varieties usually being those found with the Reprints.

The paper has been manufactured near the capital, Srinagar, by a carefully-guarded secret process, for more than 600 years, skilled workmen having, in the first instance, been imported by one of the old Sultans of Kashmir. Masson described at length (Part I, pp. 40, 41) the process of manufacture, as practised in 1900. It com-...

[page 26]
...menced by a workman dipping a sieve-mat made of grass into a tank of water in which had been dissolved a pulp made from old cotton rags and hemp fibre. The film of pulp left on this mat, after draining off the water, was about 2 ½ feet square and, after removal from the mat, became a sheet of native paper. Such sheets, while still damp, were then plastered on a wall, rubbed over with goats’ hair brushes and left to dry. When dried, a second workman examined them, rejected faulty ones, cut the remainder into any sizes required and graded them into qualities. Other workmen then glazed the sheets on both sides by rubbing into them a paste of boiled rice flour with gloves of felted ibex hair. The sheets were then polished, on a hard board, with a smooth flint stone, and made up into rolls of 24. A best-quality roll sold for 1 Rupee, and the three inferior grades at 8, 7 and 5-Annas respectively.

After manufacture, the paper was roughly graded into four qualities. The finest quality was generally, but not invariably, used for the stamps, and all qualities were on sale to the public. Owing to letters being charged a minimum postal rate according to weight, a thin tissue paper was usually preferred by natives for envelopes and their contents, the heavy native paper being seldom employed for such purposes. The facility with which all the official stamp-papers could be purchased in the open market, is a point which has great philatelic importance when considering the Reprints, Forgeries, and other problems.

(2.) 1877-1880. European Laid Paper.

This first appeared in 1877 during the earlier, and perhaps the earliest, printings of the Jammu Oil-Circulars. It was also employed for the Jammu Oil-Rectangulars, and, in 1878-9, for the New Rectangulars.

There appear to be grounds for believing that this paper was introduced (in several varieties) for experimental purposes, with a view to obtaining something more suitable than the native paper for the New Rectangulars. Various sheet-watermarks occur with this paper, and there can be little doubt but that much might still be learned from a thorough study of these, were the material available, particularly in respect of the...

[page 27]
...use of the paper for the much disputed oil-circulars and, still more, perhaps, in connection with some of the so-called Reprints. The watermarks will be fully dealt with in Chapter VIII.

(3.) April 1878. Thick brownish wove (“sugar”) paper.

This recently-discovered variety (½ anna, red, oil), is the first wove paper to be recorded for any Circular stamp. It was in use for only a very brief period during the Jammu oil-printings of 1877-78, and has not been found employed for the rectangular stamps. The colour is a pale yellowish brown and the texture much coarser than that of any of the wove paper used a year later for the New Rectangulars, for which it may have been experimental. The paper took a blurred oily impression which may account for its early rejection.

These three papers were all which were used for Circular stamps from 1866 to 1878.

After the withdrawal of the Circulars and Old Rectangulars in 1878, no further native paper (except for a few Proofs), was employed.

► Chapter V.

To top of page