Circular Stamps of the 1st Period

From The Postage Stamps of J&K Simplified by Dawson & Smythies, pp 6-8.

The First Period issues of 1866-67 saw use in both Jammu and Kashmir. Early in 1866 Maharaja Ranbir Singh ordered that three postal dies were to be engraved at Jammu under the superintendence of Wazir Zorawar, Treasury Officer, and postage stamps printed therefrom and issued on 11 jeţh 1923 ~ 23 May 1866, but two covers are known dated 25 March 1866. The postage rates were at the same time revised as follows: For letters weighing in the range 0-to-¼ tola require ½a in Imperial currency. For ¼-to-1 tola require 1 anna, and for each additional tola, 1 anna.

The three dies were separately engraved on brass; they are all very nearly truly circular in shape, measuring about 23.5 mm in diameter. Inside a double-lined circle are inscriptions in Dogri and Persian, enclosing a sun with rays, containing the figure of value. The ½a value is shown by three vertical strokes, the one on the left being curved and the two on the right straight. The 1a has a vertical stroke standing upon a horizontal curved line, and the 4a shows a single vertical stroke. [Copyist’s note: The authors had these last two assignments interchanged according to the received understandings of the day.] Immediately above the figure of value is the first letter of the four-letter Dogri inscription, reading from left to right ḍāk Jamū ~ Post Jammu. To the left of the Dogri inscription starts the Persian inscription reading counterclockwise, top of letters outward: Qalmrū riyāsat Sarkār Jammūn-Kashmir 1923 ~ Government of the State of Jammu-Kashmir 1866, where the date reads left to right.

The stamps were struck in watercolour on medium to thick shiny native-made paper, often described as “native laid”, but it is not true laid in any sense of the term. The stamps were cancelled with the brick-red Srinagar and Leh seals, or the magenta Jammu seal, and were used in both Provinces.

The standard colors for 1866 were: grey-black for ½a and ultramarine and Royal-blue for both the 1a and 4a denominations. The very first printings of the 1a and 4a stamps were so very much brighter in shade than the rest that they have been given the description Royal-blue in Séfi and Mortimer’s book. They were apparently only in use for one month and are very rare.

[Copyist’s note: What follows below the scan is a paragraph expressing the authors’ puzzlement about the denominations, where we must retain their mistaken assignments for the course of it. Their reference to “part of an original letter” is to the piece shown below. With thanks to Tony Mac Gillycuddy for the image.]

The 4a [read 1a throughout this paragraph, ed.] is not nearly as rare as the 1a [read 4a, ed.] It is found in singles and pairs on very light-weight letters that scarcely needed even a 1a stamp, nor is there any evidence of such letters having been registered. We have seen part of an original letter with two pairs of these ultramarine circulars with magneta postmarks. One pair consists of 4a stamps, while the other pair is the 1a value, but faked before use to appear as two 4a by the addition of a curved line in chinese-white below the stroke of the value, thus converting the 1 into 4, and, incidentally, making an extremely rare cut-square pair of 1 annas appear as a (philatelically) far commoner pair of 4 annas! The original dispatcher defrauded the post offices of six annas by his handiwork, and created a unique piece for the subsequent philatelist. But why is small entire (weighing much less than 1 tola) should require 16 annas worth of postage stamps is altogether inexplicable. [Copyist’s note: The Persian at the upper left reads 3 tola.]

Four other varieties of the 1a and 4a denominations appeared, the grey-blacks in 1866 and the indigos in 1867. No satisfactory explanation for the printing of the grey-blackss has been offered. The 4a is not known used and it is very rare unused. The 1a is known both used and unused but is very rare in both Provinces.

The 4a indigo is very distinctive in colour. It was undoubtedly issued, as several used copies are known, though only two unused. Séfi and Mortimer state that a 1a indigo was also issued, though they say that it is “the rarest of all watercolour circulars” and that no unused specimen is known. There was no copy in the Ferrari-Hind collection, which contained three used specimens of the 4a indigo. Three specimens of the 4a on letters are illustrated in their handbook, but not a single one of the 1a, and we rather doubt if a 1a companion to the 4a indigo really was printed. The 4a is known on a letter together with two 1a red Jammu rectangulars of 1870 or later.

The preceding items were the only circular stamps issued in both Provinces. It was very soon decided to issue separate stamps, rectangular in shape, for Jammu and Kashmir.

In the specimen book of the engraver, Rahat Ju, Captain Godfrey found a proof of a large circular stamp, 31 mm in diameter. In the centre is a large and many-rayed sun with a human face, surrounded by a broad band bearing inscriptions in (i) Dogri kakal zaruri, (ii) Persian khatt zaruri, and (iii) Shastri awashakka pattar. The first two mean ‘urgent letter’, while no translation of the third has been forthcoming. The stamp bears no value and appears to have been a special delivery stamp placed upon urgent and important official documents. It is extremely rare and has not been found cancelled.

► Circular Forgeries of the First Period.

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