[page 14 continuing]

The Franks.

A great deal of uncertainty still surrounds the distinctive seals engraved in 1857 for Jammu and Kashmir respectively and used as franks up to 1866 before the first postage stamps. Godfrey noted that the Pandit spoke of one “set” of seals only, while the Postmaster recorded two, and he added that one of these, only, might have been used to frank letters, the other being merely used as an office seal for other purposes.

We find, however, that neither of the two inscriptions given by the Pandit agree exactly with any of the four recorded by the Postmaster. The accounts, moreover, of these two historians frequently shew such minor discrepancies and, as the known impressions of the seals are very poorly printed, little assistance, if any, is to be obtained by translation. Although the subjects of our three illustrations (Plate 1) have been taken from the most clearly printed originals known to us, it has been found impossible to refer, beyond doubt, any one of the three to its correct position in the list given by Stuart Godfrey. The most that can be said is that the franks of Jammu and Srinagar were struck, respectively, in dull purple...

[page 15]
...and in dull orange-red; and that the first two illustrations are from franks in the former colour, and the third in the latter. Both are octagonal in shape and measure about 23 mm. in height by 25 mm. wide.

We think it best, therefore, to begin by giving all of the size inscriptions as quoted by Godfrey. To each inscription we add a literal translation omitting, in all cases, the first three or four words ending in “Sahai” which may be roughly paraphrased as ‘by the help of God.’ The first “set” of inscriptions (Nos. 1,2) are those given by the Pandit, and the remainder as according to the Postmaster. All of these inscriptions were in Sanskrit. The use of the word Tibet is explained in Chapter XVII, page 286.

Post Office Jammu Kashmir Thibet.

Post Office Jammu Kashmir and Thibet.

Seal Post Office Srinagar.

Seal Post Office Jammu.

Seal Post Office Jammu and Kashmir and Thibet.

Seal Post Office Jammu and Kashmir and Thibet.

The first of each of these pairs or “sets” was alloted to Kashmir and the second to Jammu. Neither the Pandit nor the Postmaster gave any clue as to the sizes or shapes of the seals they described, and the latter mentioned a further seal engraved—in this instance in Persian:—


This was, very possibly, the small Persian-engraved circular seal which was used, from 1866 onwards, for obliterating the Circular and Old Rectangular stamps of the Kashmir Province, though the date as given by the Postmaster (1867) would be a year too late for the stamp-obliterator. The latter, though it could have had no connection with those Franks which preceded the postage-stamps was, in fact, used as a frank at a...

[page 16]
...late period. This use is illustrated on Plate 2, Fig. 1 [detail above, reading DAK SRINAGAR MUNSHI], which shews one of the only two examples known to us, and the second of which is dated November, 1875. Both impressions are in black, although, at this date, all stamp-obliterations from this seal were in red, and it was not until 1878 that black superseded red for purposes of cancellation.

Reverting to 1867, we note that the Postmaster recorded that, in this year, special leather bags were provided for containing the mails and that these, after being locked, were sealed with an impression from the seal which he last described. This does not imply that such a seal could not have been used for stamp-obliteration, and we know, in fact, of such a double duty having been performed by a single seal of a much later period.

We are fairly at a loss to account for the rarity of the old octagonal Franks, for we have records of fewer than twenty in all, of which ten are dated. There must be in existence, at the present day, many hundreds of Circular stamps (mostly ½-Anna black) used during 1866 and 1867 from both Jammu and Srinagar; yet in the two preceding years (1864-65) we can only record a single Frank, one used in each. Such a coincidence cannot be explained by the supposition that the stamps have been treasured up by collectors, while the Franks were destroyed because they were not “stamps.” At the time when stamps of Jammu-Kashmir were being as eagerly sought for as, perhaps, those of any country, philately was in its infancy and anything even remotely resembling a stamp was at once added to the album as a matter of course.

Even if it be conceded, as was a fact, that the rapid growth of the Native Postal-system only commenced with the introduction of the stamps of 1866, it is scarcely to be supposed that, only a few years previously, more than a hundred miles of country, such as that between Jammu and Srinagar, should have been provided with fifty or more relay-stations in order to maintain an unbroken succession of high-speed runners, unless the correspondence had been either considerable or of the highest importance. In our view, both of these conditions prevailed, and we can only explain the rarity of the Franks by...

[page 17]
...the assumption that they were only applied to such small portion of the mail as was of special importance or urgency.

It may be possible, perhaps, to support this supposition by the evidence of the colours used for the Franks. In 1866-67 both postage-stamps and Franks were in use.The postage-stamps were obliterated in magenta at Jammu and in brick-red at Srinagar, and we have little doubt but that these colours were selected in 1866 so as to be in keeping with those of the Franks which were struck in dull purple for Jammu and in orange-red for Srinagar. But the respective colours used during 1866-67 for Franks and obliterations are not identical. In the case of Jammu, indeed, it would be impossible to confuse the bright magenta of the obliterations with the dull purple of the Franks. If both obliterations and Franks had, in fact, been struck at the same Office, we can as readily understand why the same inks might have been used for both, as we can see that it might have been considered advisable to employ inks of distinctive colours: but we can conceive no possbile reason for the employment, by the same Office, of different inks varying only more or less slightly in shades of the same colour. It may then become a question as to whether the Franks were ever struck at a Post-Office at all or may not, rather, have been the production of some special Office established for dealing with letters of special importance or value.

Of the ten dated Franks known to us, two were used in 1861; one each in 1864, 1865 and 1866; four in 1867 and one as late as April 1873; The last-named date—seven years after the introduction of the postal adhesive stamps—is extraordinary. The impression and envelope, however, bear numerous year-dated post-marks of British Post Offices at both “Sealkote” and Bombay, so that the correctness of the period is beyond question. It is also remarkable that at least half of these ten Franks were used after the first Circular stamps appeared.

It seems strange also that the earliest record for a Frank should occur as late as 1861—four years after the seals had been engraved. Assuming the date of engraving, as given by...

[page 18]
...the Postmaster, to be correct, it may be that both sets of seals were, at first, employed for purposes other than that of stamping the mails and that the use of one set for producing the Franks commenced at a considerably later period than 1857.

► Chapter IV.

To top of page