The C.B. Simons Story

In August 1898 the obsolete stamps that were still held in the Native Treasuries came under the sole control of a certain Rev. C.B. Simons through an auction. He operated out of Baramula, a town some 31 miles west of Srinagar downstream on the Jhelum river on the Murree Route. His intention was to raise money for his church by the sale of this remaindered stock to collectors and dealers. A small archive of Simonsiana exists, including some of his correspondence, notes, and special offerings.

The stamp stock that was remaindered by the Native office proved to include a quantity of the so-called missing-die forgeries. Some time elapsed before Simons was convinced that he had been selling non-postal material. Séfi & Mortimer devote a juicy chapter to this affair, the ► Simons Controversy.

Simons’ Document

The document is on thick bâtonné paper, 8.5 × 12 inches. The text is copied below.

OFFICE OF THE REVENUE MINISTER OF THE STATE COUNCIL. Kashmir Stamps NOTICE. Notice is hereby given that the Revd: C. B. Simons, Roman Catholic Chaplain, Baramula, has been authorized by His Highness the Maharaja and the State Council of Jammu and Kashmir to dispose of the entire stock of Kashmir Postage Stamps, at present in possession of the State. The following rules are, therefore, notified for general information: 1. No purchases or sales by State subjects can be made from, or to, any other person, but the Revd: C. B. Simons. 2. Any State subject infringing this rule will render himself liable to a fine of Rs. 500, and the confiscation of the stamps. Srinagar dated 23rd August 1898} Sd. BHAG RAM Revenue Member, of State Council. K. J. P. —19-5-55—200.

We guess that the 200 is the number of copies printed. We might also note that 23 August 1898 occurs in the 5th month (bhādon) 1955 as indicated in the last line of the document. This is further evidence of use of the solar convention in official J&K doings. In the hybrid lunisolar convention, in which ćait is the first month of the Hindu year, then bhādon is the sixth month.

One of Simons’ later commercial offerings consisted of sixteen New Rectangulars (original selling price not indicated). Larger sheets containing 28 and 35 New Rectangulars are known, the former selling originally for Rs 15. Other sale booklets are known. The pencilled numerals on The example below show Stanley Gibbons catalogue numbering from a date unknown. Apart from the numbering for the five black officials, these numbers are the same as in the current SG listing. It is the naming of the greens that is of primary interest (see enlargement at bottom).

First Row: 1a red, ¼a pale brown, ½a vermilion, ½a rose;
Second Row: ½a orange-red, 1a greenish-grey, 1a bright green, 1a dull green;
Third Row: 1a blue-green, 2a red on yellow paper, ¼a black, ½a black;
Last Row: 1a black, 2a black, 4a black, 8a black.

The 1a greenish-grey, bright green, and dull green, respectively, according the SG numbers shown. The colors have evidently changed over time. Under a glass the item in the middle is rather like the first, but with remnant green pigment beading over the surface. It is not unlike some of the ‘sage-green’ oilcolor circulars of uncertain status and dating.

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