Catalogue Notes

Most dealers and collectors of Jammu & Kashmir follow the Stanley Gibbons listing. While recognizing that this publication is not meant to be a specialist treatment of this particular material, one may still fret when truly disparate fare must crowd into a single entry of the catalogue. Each number really serves as a tag for a family of types that may have been produced over years or indeed even at different printing sites.

Above: A sampling of the many ‘red thin woves’ that will be assigned to SG125. They range from earlier Jammu printings to later Srinagar printings, with some types unattested in postal use. The rarity of a certain paper variety or the postal status of another cannot be learned from the catalogue. We do appreciate the plight of the cataloguer.

Changes to the SG Listing

SG 2013: No changes apart from upward pricing.

SG 2012: No changes apart from upward pricing.

SG 2011: Another vagary of handstamping is now recognized at 29a. Upward pricing.

SG 2010: No changes apart from upward pricing.

SG 2009: No changes apart from upward pricing.

SG 2008: In addition to the (mechanical) price increases, this year sees added to the listing four new entries: The 90a and 99b (both handstamping anomalies) and the 127a and 132a (both Leh bisect covers). The new 127a is the long-known 1a red that augments the ½a red already listed, both stamps being of the Jammu-printed period. The new 132a is the ½a orange, which augments the 1a orange already listed, both stamps being of the Srinagar-printed period.

The SG132a, rarest and earliest of the bisects: The ½a orange actually functioning as ½a postage (not ¼a as per catalogue). The example shown above, of only two or three attested, is an external cover Leh to Amballa dated 27 April [1883] on the reverse. Collection Hellrigl of course.

The new SG90a shows two successive, mutually inverted, aligned, and proximate printings of the upper sector of the visitors’ plate, from which this excision was performed. These are positions #4 on the left and #2 on the right of the ¼a black watercolor. Are the others still extant? Collection Hellrigl.

The new SG99b shows a “semi-tête-bête” pair. Collection Hellrigl.

SG 2007: No changes apart from upward pricing.

SG 2006: The 1a royal blue circular SG3 is now unpriced in unused condition. Upward pricing.

SG 2005: No changes apart from upward pricing. Some interesting catalogue notes about the Jammu Circulars can be found in Peter Röver India Post 39, 32 (2005).

SG 2004: A few more numbers have been re-re-assigned for the early period. A 4as royal blue watercolor circular has been recognized, unpriced. We do not know what has counted as ‘royal blue’ here. Pending inspection of the item in question, some of us with definite notions about this matter will remain skeptical.

Circular  2003   2004-2011 
½a. ultramarine4a2 (eliminating 4a)
1a. royal blue43 reintroduced
1a. ultramarine53a (new number)
1a. grey-black24
4a. royal blue (new)-5
4a. ultramarine65a (new number)
4a. grey-black6a6 (eliminating 6a)

SG 2003 Edition: Several of the catalogue numbers for the early period circulars have been changed from the 2002 edition. A reshuffling of the “Jammu Reds” has been undertaken, with changes in number, dates, and prices. An old slip whereby Jammu Old Rectangular reds are dated only from 1876 has been corrected. A concordance follows for those who deal with older auction literature and so on.

Circular20022003   Old Year    New Year  
4a. grey-black3 6a (eliminating 3)18661867
½a. red8 1218691874
1a. red9 1318691874
4a. red10 81869no change
  ½a. orange-red  11 12a (new number)18691874
1a. orange-red12 13a18691874
4a. orange-red13 918691872
4a. carmine-red13a 1118691876
1a. orange13b 13b (no change!)18721874
4a. orange13c 10 (eliminating 13c)1872no change

Pedant’s Corner

• In the footnote referring to circular forgeries of the “½a and 1a in types which were at one time supposed to be authentic,” the 1a should be changed to 4as. The errant footnote dates from long ago when the legitimage 4as die was indeed mistaken for the 1a and vice-versa. The irony is that it was the very existence of these forgeries that helped to foster the mistaken identifications.

• The dating at SG88 should “read 1866 (Sept(?)),” just as it does at SG87, whence the received scenario about both issues is modified considerably. The single die was not really superseded by the plate issue in the ½a black, for both shared a curious partnership over essentially the same life-span of several months. Together with the continuing use of the ½a black watercolor circular, there was a triumvirate of half-blacks all doing postal service over the same time. The careers of all three ended together sometime in the spring of 1867, perhaps when Srinagar resumed its annual duty as capital of the State.

• Early perforation of the New Rectangulars was done with two “harrow-like” implements, one of wider perf spacing for the 3-wide plates, the other of narrower spacing for the 4-wide plates. The catalogue’s ascriptions at SG103 and SG104b do not tally with that picture.

• The reference to the New Rectangular ½a orange watercolour postal forgery gives February 1890 as the advent of the type. This date may refer to the second known die type, Masson’s so-called “Big-D.” An earlier die of the sort is known back to at least for 21 December 1889. A number of other postal forgeries are unrecognized by the catalogues.

Scott vs. Gibbons (ca. 2003)

On account of the sketchy treatment of some of the Indian States in Scott, many collectors automatically assume (presume) the Scott listing of J&K to be greatly inferior to that of SG. While SG is demonstrably more alert to the pricing side of things internationally, both treatments of the material itself are essentially interchangeable for the non-specialist, and neither will suffice for the specialist. The Scott listing benefitted greatly from the insight of Harrison Haverbeck and Winthrop Boggs on the American scene. They enabled Scott to display, for example, the correct assignments of the denominations in the circulars some four decades before the correction was made in Gibbons.

The Watercolor Circulars: ½a circulars in any sort of blue are missing in Scott, a major lapse. Gibbons does recognize half-anna blues in both used and unused condition. Were it not for Boggs’ having mistaken a ½a dull blue for the 1a denomination in his notes on Haverbeck Lot 1239, there is little doubt that Scott would have recognized the type long ago, at least in the duller shade. As for the 1a and 4as denominations, Scott also recognizes an ultramarine vs. a dull blue, a distinction that SG does not make. While the 1a dull blue might be partly an artifact of Boggs’ mistake, it is still a viable listing in the 1a. If it is desirable in a non-specialist catalogue to distinguish the early 1a royal blue from the subsequent stages of the ultramarine series, then many other sharper shade distinctions throughout the listing should also be recognized.

On account of the denomination confusion in the circulars the footnote caution about the Die A forgery in Scott (Die I in SG) has not yet been corrected in either catalog/catalogue.

Unsurprisingly, Scott does not recognize a counterpart to SG’s 4as royal-blue.

Scott recognizes a ½a orange circular (Scott 26a) at moderate price that SG does not list. On the other hand, Scott does not recognize the 1a orange. Dawson’s note on the latter can be found in Phil. J. India 48 p 66 (1944).

The 4as deep blue-black watercolor circular of 1876 (SG25a) is called indigo in the Scott catalog, and not to be taken for the early 4as indigo Sc4b (SG7).

The Kashmir Watercolors. Scott is still not listing the early printings of the 4as rectangular die in myrtle-green and sage-green, both well-attested in postal use, and which themselves are known in sub-shades.

The Transitional Oilcolors. The treatment of the Jammu rectangulars, both water and oil, is essentially identical in the two listings (datings and pricings aside). SG lists the rare deep blue-black entity that Scott does not, and which may be, following Eames, a pigment-mixing variety of the slate-blue itself. The 4as slate-blue oilcolor circular is recognized by SG only. A typo at Sc22 lists the ½a as a ¼a.

The New Rectangulars. It is a pleasure to see in Scott the perforated ½a red on wove paper listed with the laid papers of 1878. Unfortunately medium-thick woves are not distinguished from thin woves at all. Among the the early laids, Scott’s 1a violet and 1a dull purple must somehow serve as counterparts to SG’s 1a mauve and 1a slate purple. For Scott’s 2as bright violet on laid, SG distinguishes a 2as violet (listing this also in rare perforated condition) from a bright mauve, and adds a slate-blue. The rare 2as dull blue in SG is called dull ultramarine in Scott. Among the New Colors, concordances among the different shade listings cannot really be carried out meaningfully, and small price differentials among the types are all but meaningless.

The Officials. SG lists the 1878 1a black on medium wove paper, which, like the other medium woves, is not distinguished from thins in the Scott listing. The 1889 ¼a black on stout wove paper is also unlisted in Scott. There is sporadic conjecture that it was not a legitimate issue. It is usually found with a thick-barred postmark that is not known postally, but which is reported on other dodgy material.


The 2003 Michel Süd- und Südostasien Übersee-Katalog. Volume 8, pp 404-07.

As of 2003, the illustration that matches symbols with denominations in the circulars was still reversed. But do not reverse 1a and 4as in the stamp listing itself, for these are correct as given.

For Michel’s watercolor blau and dunkelblau in the early circular issues, identify SG royal blue and indigo, respectively. In the Jammu Old Rectangulars, Michel’s lilarot corresponds to SG red (shades) entry. Michel’s rot and orangerot then correspond to SG orange-red and orange, respectively, all of which just adds more noise to an already noisy story. In the oilcolors, by contrast, rot does indeed correspond to SG red. The schieferblau translates SG slate-blue.

Where Michel speaks of grün in the circulars and smaragd in the Jammu Old Rectangulars, SG has emerald-green for both. Similarly, where Michel speaks of violettblau bis ultramarin in the circulars und hellblau in the Jammu Old Rectangulars, SG has bright blue for both. The SG account reflects the pigment sharing that was likely the case here, though it is true that the bright blues do come in shades.

An Idle Thought on Pricing

Speaking of pricing: Well, we weren’t, but let’s for a moment. A recent trend in the catalogue, and presumably in the market, is the sharp upward valuation of pairs of handstamped impressions that are in notably skew alignment.

The 1a bright blue, SG18a.

In the 2013 edition the total catalogue value of eight of these so-called tête-bêche and semi-tête-bêche pairings, which are of scant philatelic import, especially unused, now amounts to £30,500. This was just handstamping, after all, and done by parties not exactly renowned for their fastidiousness. We are surely not alone in our bewilderment at the pricing premium, especially when truly errant fare (such as mirror-image “offset” impressions that actually passed through the mails) goes unrecognized altogether. It was good to see the catalogue abandon formal recognition of so-called “double impressions” in the early watercolours, such being mere strike bounces from inattention or clumsiness.

The matter of under-valuation is likely to be of more interest to most of us. I know that many collectors would be loath to let go of certain of their middle-range material at current catalogue prices. Would we sell a good copy of Old Myrtle at only £1000? Not likely. A used copy of SG17 at only £550? Nope. Part of the problem must be that some items just never come up for auction and their catalogue entry simply gets that year’s automatic increment. The pricing remains meaningless for decades.

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