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Chapter XVII.

Telegraph Stamps.

In 1878 a Treaty was entered into between the respective representatives of the British and Kashmir Governments for the erection, maintenance and working of two lines of Telegraphs from Srinagar—one to Jammu and the other to Gilgit.

By this Treaty (which will be found quoted in full in Appendix “B”), the British undertook to construct two lines at a total cost of 53,000 Rupees, and to hand it over, in full working order, to the Kashmir Government. The latter received a further guarantee of assistance, instruction, instruments at cost price and so forth, and undertook to eventually repay the entire cost of the undertaking.

By a second Treaty of July, 1890, an additional supplementary line was established along the State Railway. This Treaty, being almost entirely devoted to other matters, we have not quoted.

Neither Treaty suggested any form of division of Revenue between the respective Governments, and it would appear that the Telegraph, unlike the postal-system, was a purely native venture.

It will be recalled from the “Simons’ Controversy” that numbers of used postage stamps were called in with unused in 1898; and we are, once again, indebted to Stuart Godfrey for the fact that these stamps had been used on telegraph forms, and that they began to take the place of those specially designed for telegraphic use, shortly after the introduction of the latter, for reasons of public convenience and for simplifying the State accounts. In Ladakh, postage-stamps only were employed for telegrams, though the Telegraph stamps would have been valid for the purpose. Telegraph forms franked with these postage-stamps were, after a necessary period of retention by the officials, sold—quite legitimately—to...

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...any of the public who cared to buy them, and the proceeds of such sales went, not to the Imperial Government, but to the Kashmir Durbar.

The Kashmir Telegraph stamps divide into two principal groups:—

 (1)  Early issues (1884 to 1896(?)) handstamped from single dies of crude native design and,

 (2)  Later issues (1897 to the present period—1930) produced in London from plates, shewing a similar design, by Messrs. De La Rue.

It is not surprising to find, in view of the treaty-obligations, that some features of Imperial methods were embodied in the native stamps.

In February, 1866, when the first postage-stamps of Kashmir were on the point of being issued, the Imperial Government had been notified of the failure of the first of its own telegraph stamps, and it shortly afterwards introduced a new type of adhesive label. This took the form of an upright-rectagular stamp, the upper and lower halves of which were printed in duplicate, each half showing the portrait of Queen Victoria.

The stamp was produced in this form so that it could be laterally bisected when used, and the respective halves affixed to Receipt and Despatch forms; the duplication of design had, also, been adopted in otder to avoid cutting through the head of the Sovereign—an act which would, particularly in the eyes of a native, have been considered disrespectful. The Kashmir telegraph stamps were, similarly, bisected for use on forms of receipt and despatch, but as there appeared to be no objection to cutting through the armorial design, this was not originally produced, as it was at a later period, in duplicate.

The Design.

The native design of the first stamps consisted of a central shield, surmounted by the upper part of a human figure having, for a head, the usual emblematic “sun”, and flanked, at either side, by supporters of military type. In...

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these respects the design resembled that of the State Postcards. At either side of, and beyond the supporters were placed, in duplicate, the denominations in large Persian characters and beyond these again and close to the side margins, duplicate inscriptions in very small characters reading in Dogra (translated)—“Jammu Kashmir Sambat Telegraphs,” and ending with a repetition of the denomination.

The occurence of such a word as “Tibet” appears somewhat remarkable, but Dr. Grahame Bailey is confident that the characters can bear no other construction, though the translation was, at an early period, denied in the case of its appearance on one of the old “seal” obliterators. An explanation has now been provided for us by Col. Stuart Godfrey.

We have, as previously explained, included the Province of Ladakh, of which Leh was the capital, with that of Kashmir. In this we have, for the sake of simplification, followed Masson who, no doubt, included it because, in the early stamp-period, the only British Post Offices in the State were situated at Srinagar and Leh, and philatelic problems were more conveniently dealt with by taking the stamps issued from them as a single “Kashmir” group.

Ladakh, however, had always been a totally distinct Province under its own Rajah, and was not handed over to Gulab Singh when he acquired Kashmir from the British Government. Gulab Singh, in fact, subsequently annexed it to Kashmir by force of arms, and at this period Ladakh was not only known as Little Tibet, but had been even claimed as Tibetan by the Chinese. This very interesting fact doubtless explains why we find “Tibet” coupled with Kashmir and Jammu on the ‘seals’ and Telegraph stamps. The old independence of Ladakh is in striking contrast with that of Poonch which, though owning its own postal system and issuing its own stamps was, and still is, a part of Kashmir.

Nine different denominations—1, 2, 4 and 8-Annas; and 1, 2, 5, 10 and 25 Rupees—were prepared by engraving copies of the native design on nine single dies, the design in all cases, being enclosed in a single-lined rectangle. Impressions from...

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...these dies were handstruck until a complete sheet had been made up. Such sheets are only known of the lower values and appear to have normally and, perhaps, invariably been composed of 60 impressions arranged in 12 vertical rows of 5. Each die, of course, differs in detail from any other.

Despatch and Receipt Forms. (Plate 56.)

The telegraph forms, both for despatch and receipt, consisted of slips of coarse yellowish wove paper measuring about 4 × 9 inches.

Native Telegraph Form 1889: Despatch halves of three 1-Anna and three 2-Annas

The backs of the forms were completely covered by lithographed instructions in native characters, the face of each being divided into three equal parts. Of these, that on the left was reserved for the name of the transmitting station; the central one for the amount paid, and that on the right for the name and address of destination. The stamps were usually affixed above or below these three divisions.

These forms are of considerable rarity. They have been found, used in 1889, with particulars entered, partly in the native dialect and partly in English, from which it may, perhaps be inferred that, after five years of experience, the Kashmiri still required British assistance in working the lines, and had not yet attained the proficiency for complete independent control.

We have been unable, as yet, to find these forms used with postage-stamps as described by Stuart Godfrey.

The charges would seem to have been excessive in view of an issue up to 25 Rupees in a State whose highest postal denomination had never exceeded 8-Annas.


The stamps, after bisection, were almost invariably cancelled with pen and ink. Srinagar seems to have made some use of a circular “seal” obliterator, somewhat larger than that employed for the postage stamps and impressed in oil instead of in watercolour. Other seal obliterators are also known to have been used.

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During 1891-93 the Offices at Jammu, Anant Nag, Muzaffarabad and, probably, one or two others, utilised their 3-circle postmarks for cancelling Telegraph stamps, both ordinary and Official. In all such cases the entire stamp appears to have been used, without bisection, on forms printed in English as well as on others in native characters.

The Stamps of 1884. (Plate 55.)

The native issues comprised the following, of which full details appear in our Check Lists in Chapter XVIII:—


All denominations were also printed in black for Official purposes. There are no records available to afford any indication of the numbers issued of each denomination, but little use can have been made of the four highest values. The 2 and 5 Rupees are rare, and we have never yet seen either the 10 or 25 Rupees used or unused.

Plate 55

1,2-Annas/4,8-Annas/1,2-Rupees/5 Rupee, 1-Rupee forgery

The stamps were printed on the postage stamp papers of the period, viz.:—

 (1)  Thin fine toned wove.  (2)  Thin coarse toned wove.
 (3)  Thin “pure white” wove and (4)  Thin laid.

A considerable variety of shades occur, but the differences are more apparent than real, being affected, to a great extent, by the differing tones and textures of the papers. A variety of the 4-Annas blue is liable to confusion with the black Official stamp, the usually stable pigment having, apparently, undergone excessive blackening due to sulphuration.


The only known proof impressions were found among a miscellaneous assortment of unclassified stamps which had belonged to Masson.

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The impressions, two in number, were those of the 2-Annas and 1-Anna dies, printed vertically on a single small piece of thin wove paper, the 2-Annas being uppermost. The colours were similar to, but not identical with the respective colours of the issued stamps. The piece had been pen-cancelled to prevent telegraphic employment.

The backs of these impressions shew a distinct off-set from some other die, presumably the 1-Rupee, in red, suggesting that other proofs were taken, though none have been recorded, and none are known at the present day.

Reprints and Forgeries.

None of the Telegraph Stamps of Kashmir were ever Reprinted, but since the dies of the native issue were not required for defacement in 1898, owing to the retention of the telegraphs as a native monopoly, the possibility of Reprints making an appearance cannot, even now, be entirely excluded.

A deceptive, though not dangerous forgery, is known of the 1-Rupee red, printed on a thin wove which agrees with none of the varieties of the original paper. This forgery is stated to have been produced to defraud the State, but we have no record of an authentic used copy. It is very rarely found.

Two tests are available by which the forgery can be easily identified:—In the original die the top of the “sun” touches the top frame-line, and the ornament touching the centre of the bottom frame-line is diamond-shaped. In the forgery the top of the sun fails to meet the frame-line above by nearly 1 mm., and the ornament more nearly resembles a cross.

There is a further crude and harmless forgery of the paper, in which the small inscriptions at the sides bear no sort of resemblance to those of originals. This forgery was made from an illustration in Moens’ catalogue of 1885-86.

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The De La Rue Issues (1897-1932).
(Plate 57)

Catalogues have consistently given 1903 as the year of the first De la Rue issue, leaving a gap of many years to be accounted for. The catalogued date must, however, be put back six years, to 1897. Up to 1930 at least, Kashmir was still using telegraph-stamps printed by this celebrated firm.

We are enabled, through the courtesy of Messrs. De la Rue, not only to prove the fact, but to reproduce an important list shewing the numbers and types of plates prepared, together with the dates and consignments of telegraph stamps sent to Kashmir between 1897 and 1930—an unbroken period of 33 years.

The ½, 1, 2 and 4-Annas.

The 8-Annas, 1, 2 and 5-Rupees.

Any detailed examination of these issues would fall outside the scope of a work devoted, mainly, to postage-stamps which had become obsolete three years prior to the commencement of the De la Rue issues shewn in the following table:—

A.  Double Arms Design
40 stamps to each sheet.

DateWmk.½A1A2As4As6As8As 1Rp2Rs5Rs
July 1897Plain130135135256 134140138
Jan. 1899Rosettes635510510
June 1907' '186130126130 132132
Nov. 1907' '505505502
July 1908' '507509502
Aug. 1909' '770505500
July 1910' '505505 125

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B.  Single Arms Design
80 stamps to each sheet.

DateWmk.½A1A2As4As6As8As 1Rp2Rs5Rs
July 1911Rosettes250
Aug. 1912' '135135135
June 1913' '135135137139
May 1914' '127132
Feb. 1915' '526525525
Feb. 1916' '316319316 318
Jan. 1917' '516
June 1919' '124520510506
Dec. 1920' '625
June 1921' '511775765771508 129132129
April 1922' '10061024760765 644
Mar. 1929' '305137 142

[Also on the despatch of Mar. 1929, 154 of the 1Rp.(?) were overprinted 12 annas.]

It will be seen, from this list that during these 33 years, Kashmir used upwards of two million telegraph stamps alone. From this fact can be easily inferred the steady growth of the native postal system generally, since its initiation in 1866.

A few points of interest, which arise from the list which we have given, may be briefly alluded to.

The list dos not give us the colours of the stamps. It may, therefore, be noted that all values, except the ½-Anna and 6-Annas, were included in the original issue, and that all were printed in bi-colour.

The old high-value denominations of 10 and 25 Rupees were, as might have been expected, discontinued, and the list discloses only a small demand for any value higher than the 1-Rupee, the latter having, in turn, been used to a slightly greater extent than the ½-Anna which was the lowest of the denominations. Catalogues give the date of the ½-Anna as 1911, which is two years too late.

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Catalogues also shew a number of surcharges on the earlier stamps, and our list discloses that none of these were provided by Messrs. De la Rue, whose only overprint was that from a 12-Anna plate of 1929.

All the De la Rue stamps were perf. 14, and the “Rosettes” watermark was of the multiple type, portions of more than one rosette falling on every stamp.

The fact of the De la Rue designs having ceased to be issued in duplicate during 1911 indicates, we imagine, the end of the practice of bisection, and of the system of separate forms for receipt and despatch. It will be noted that the half-stamp to be discarded was the lower one which gave the denomination in English.

A few words may be added on the design and inscriptions, which have already been referred to as providing a good illustration of the difficulties to be faced in the matter of translation.

The central design is a Western rendering of the original native one, the scroll beneath it now containing a motto, “For God, my Country and my friends.”

The inscription at the top of the upper stamp is common to all values, and reads “State (of) Jammu Kashmir”. “Sambat.” The characters of this inscription are a Dogra variety of Takri, and the language seems to be Hindi (Devanagri).

The inscription at the right of the lower stamp is also common to all values, and reads “State (of) Jammu Kashmir”: here both language and characters are Persian.

The only comment needed on the right inscription of the upper stamp is that in the 2 Rupees the character for “Rupee” is wrongly given; in the 5-Rupees it is correct.

It should be noted, in conclusion, that previous catalogues have given 2 and 5-Rupees only as on unwatermarked paper, whereas the list provided by Messrs. De la Rue shews that five other denominations—the 1, 2, 4 and 8-Annas, and the 1-Rupee—were also printed on this paper and included in the first consignment of 1897. The 6-Annas has never, to our knowledge, been catalogued—nor have we ever seen an example.

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Receipt Stamp (Plate 57, Fig. 9).

About 1900 it was made obligatory for all receipts for money over a certain amount to be stamped, and for this a special label, also prepared by Messrs. De la Rue, was issued. The design closely followed that of the Telegraph stamps, the inscriptions being in native characters only.

Fiscal, 1-Anna Receipt stamp.

► Chapter XVIII.

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