Terminology

Different collectors use different terms for the same thing. How we are using some of them on this site (currently) and very specifically to the J&K context, is given here:


Covers are stamped envelopes, addressed and officially marked in some way to show their legitimate passage through the mails. Drastically cut-down covers are not excluded provided that no philatelic information has likely been lost. If such information has been lost they are called pieces or fragments. No distinction is made here between covers that do and do not still enclose a letter.

Entire is a term that we do not use, but it does show up in some of the publications that we have reproduced on-site. While it may refer simply to a cover, it may also refer specifically to those covers that still contain a letter. The older literature also sees the phrase “on original” to mean “on cover.”

Error is a term that we have not used in our own descriptions; the closest we dare is “color anomaly” and the like. Double impressions, backprints, offsets, etc. are here called “production anomalies.” Tête-bêches and semi-tête-bêches (the latter means one stamp is struck sideways in a pair) are also gathered under production anomalies.

Essays are those productions that have come down to us from the early design stage of a stamp when such designs differ in marked ways from those of the issued stamp (redrawn fleurons or spandrels, say). For J&K the only example ever extant is the unique unfinished essay of the Kashmir ½a single die. The term is used by default for the stillborn Convention State overprints.

Forgery, fakery, philatelic artifice.  Our terminology here is unsystematic, casual, and erratic. J&K sports a truly diverse range of skulduggery meant to deceive the collector. Some productions are so inept that it is not immediately clear which original was even intended. Here one must grope for a name, though the more delightful examples are what we call zanies. Others held in low regard may go by such names as facsimiles, replicas, reproductions, or imitations. One such grouping, often encountered, was based on the illustrations in the older b/w SG catalogue, sometimes with that catalogue’s type number included as if it were a plate number. Then there is the counterfeit or postal forgery. We find the former term the more apt, for it builds in the notion of pilfering a State service, while the latter term might be understood by some as simply synonymous with “stamp forgery” of any intent. While an element of intrigue may have attended some of the reprinting, such productions are not usually regarded as forgeries because they were produced with the official implements. Many types in odd colors may have been created not so much to deceive collectors as to indulge them. Authentic and faked cancels are found on both forged and authentic stamps in all four combinations, both on cover and off.

Non-postals are stamps that are not attested in postal use but were produced with the official implements. Subtypes include proofs, paper trials, pigment trials, and reprints. Some of these are just “stamps,” i.e., productions no different from the so-called postal issues but for which there has been no attestion of postal use.

Originals are “postals,” our preferred expression because they are not non-postals. A postal item is a stamp variety that is attested by at least one cover that passed legitimately through the postal system. The term ‘original’ is also used in the literature in specific opposition to “reprint.” A distinct usage found in the older literature has the term as synonym for “still on cover.”

Proofs are preliminary productions executed from an approved plate or die before an issue has first been made available for postal use. Unique proofs from several of the implements were found in the notebook of the engraver Rahat Ju. Proofs need not be produced in the same colors or on the same papers of the issued stamps. If they happen to be indistinguishable from the issued stamps, only their documented provenance can provide them with that status. So-called “proof strips” in oilcolors from the two Kashmir plates were produced at unknown times, but definitely long after the advent dates of the plates. Whatever else they might be (pigment trials or later reprints) they are not “proofs” in the restricted sense used here.

Reissues refer to red and orange New Rectangulars printed pre-1883 that were released in the late period for postage, thus supplementing or supplanting some of the more recently printed New Colors material. We do not know whether stocks of early black officials were similarly reissued.

Remainders refer to the stamps still being stored in the Treasury after the closing of the native posts in 1894. This stock may have been as high as 10,000 of certain denominations of the New Rectangulars, supposing all color varieties are counted together. That remaindered material was released in August 1898 to a certain Father Simons, who was intent on raising money for his church through its sale to collectors and dealers. It turned out that a portion of that stock consisted of the so-called Missing-Die forgeries that had been perpetrated by corrupt officialdom; such forgeries are not usually included under the remainder idea.

Reprints, as opposed to “oilcolor originals,” are productions executed from original plates and dies after these implements are retired from postal service. For the Old Period the transition month was May 1878. Reprints produced in their own special papers and “fancy colors” form a special subclass. Reprints have also been constrained by traditional rules of uncertain origin and validity: “No reprints on laid paper” and “No reprints in slate-blue” are two of the better-known rules, but both are eroding under the pressure of problematic cases and the lack of sufficient reason for observing them. That reprints must even be restricted to oilcolor pigment is not exactly a demonstrable proposition. It is also possible that some reprinting from the early-period implements was done for testing paper or pigments for certain New Rectangulars within the latter’s period, and are therefore also ‘trials’. Reprinting from the New Rectangular plates, i.e., printing done between the closing of the native posts in 1894 and the official defacement of those plates in February 1898, is often doubted on account of the large remainder stock that existed. Some of the late colors not known in postal use, however, might be reprints.

Specimen. Hitherto we had been using this term in a non-technical way, merely as a synonym for “stamp,” “item,” or “example.” Somewhere along the way, however, we cottoned to the notion that Kashmir stamps handstamped CANCELLED are candidates for true specimenhood, and so we have tried to purge the site of the more casual use of the term.

Trials are unissued productions made with an original implement during its tenure of postal service (otherwise they would be deemed proofs if earlier or reprints if later). Some of these experimental printings may have found sporadic use as postage, so sullying our pristine taxonomies.

Unissued is a term that we avoid in our own descriptions, not always successfully, for it certainly has its uses. It is a term either too general (what with essays, proofs, trials, and reprints all being examples) or too specific in the direction of “prepared for use.” The latter is uncomfortably speculative in the murky J&K context. There are also inconsistent distinctions made in the literature as to which of ‘unissued’ and ‘prepared for use’ may or may not find attestation in postal use. The “unissued” stamps from the 12-plate, which was officially defaced along with the legitimate implements, is admittedly a challenge to nomenclature. We side with those who take its productions to be in a class kindred to the Missing-Die forgeries, the implements for which were also sought for official defacement.

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