Banging the drum for the Uglies - Indian States stamps

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Post by tonymacg »

A footnote to Jammu & Kashmir: I just received this rather nice example of the ½ Anna postal stationery postcard:

Image

The card exists in four 'states': with the text at left straight; slanting (as in this example); dipping more strongly, and repaired and straight again, with a rivet head showing below the sun, where the plate was repaired to correct the slant.

The card also shows nice examples of the 3-ring CDSs introduced in December 1890. The card may have originated somewhere in Jammu, passed through Jammu town on about the 12 April, and arrived at Srinagar on the 16 April 1891.
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Post by tonymacg »

Las Bela: despite its name, is one of the Uglies. Perhaps the most nondescript of them all: ugly, but not in any particularly interesting way.

Las Bela used to be listed with Bahawalpur under Pakistan, because it now lies within Pakistan. However, unlike Bahawalpur, it lived and died philatelically during the British era, from 1897 to 1907. For the simple lifers, Las Bela only issued two stamps:

Image

but as you can see, there was rather more to it than that. Gibbons lists a number of printings, in different sizes and on different papers, and the specialists (if any still exist) recognise more. The art is to assign used copies to their proper places. Used copies all tend to turn the same dingy khaki colour.

Nevertheless, Las Bela was a perfectly genuine operation, intended to carry mail between Las Bela and Karachi, which was the nearest urban centre. Used are for the most part cheaper than mint, and the used are commercially used too, not CTO. Even covers exist:

Image

But that's about the best I can find to say about Las Bela. Only it's mother could love it, really ...
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Post by Eric Casagrande »

Orchha presents an interesting case within Gibbons ... or should I say that Gibbons presents an interesting case within Orchha. :lol:

If you check SG17 it reads:

SG17a -- Imperf pair .... GBP 9.00

SG17b -- Imperf pair between (vertical pair) ... GBP 75.00

SG17c -- Imperf pair between (horizontal pair) ... GBP 75.00

Whoa ... back up the truck a moment. How many different imperf pairs can there be? They can be vertically imperf (up and down) ... or horizontally imperf (left to right) ... but where is Gibbons getting the third imperf pair listed in SG17a?

They also have their third imperf pair listed within SG11.

Secondly ... in the case of SG9, where it lists SG9a as an imperf pair (but nothing more in terms of description), am I to assume the pair could be either horizontal or vertical ... or is this another example of Gibbons "third version" of an imperf pair?

Finally ... using SG14 as an example ... Gibbons list SG14a as an imperf pair ... and then lists SG14b as a horizontal pair, imperf between. Does this mean the SG14a is to be a vertical pair, imperf between?

This last issue can really be confusing, because there are many cases where Gibbons describes them in this manner, where the "b" variety is named (vertical or horizontal pair), but the "a" variety is not named.

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Post by OttawaMike »

Pairs which are "imperf between" have perforations at the outside edges of the pair - comes from perfs being omitted on some or all of either the vertical or horizontal rows.

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Post by Eric Casagrande »

OttawaMike wrote:Pairs which are "imperf between" have perforations at the outside edges of the pair - comes from perfs being omitted on some or all of either the vertical or horizontal rows.
Yes ... I know what you mean.

But what I am getting at is that it doesn't explain why the "A" variety is listed at such a low price, since it implies that the entire stamp pair is imperf (i.e. all four sides).

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Post by GlenStephens »

tonymacg wrote:Las Bela: despite its name, is one of the Uglies. Perhaps the most nondescript of them all: ugly, but not in any particularly interesting way.

Las Bela used to be listed with Bahawalpur under Pakistan, because it now lies within Pakistan. However, unlike Bahawalpur, it lived and died philatelically during the British era, from 1897 to 1907. For the simple lifers, Las Bela only issued two stamps:

Image
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I have never before heard of Las Bela, much less knew it had a Commonwealth connection!
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Post by PeterS »

Eric Casagrande wrote:
OttawaMike wrote:Pairs which are "imperf between" have perforations at the outside edges of the pair - comes from perfs being omitted on some or all of either the vertical or horizontal rows.
Yes ... I know what you mean.

But what I am getting at is that it doesn't explain why the "A" variety is listed at such a low price, since it implies that the entire stamp pair is imperf (i.e. all four sides).
Not that I know anything at all about these but I would hazard a guess as to why the difference in values. My guess is that teh stamps were issued in either perforarted or imperforate form (ie. plenty of sheets that didn't get perforated).

If that is the case, then misperforated sheets would attract a premium because the misperforating would be scacer.

Tony, the font of all wisdom on these, would be able to confirm the hypothethis! :)
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Post by tonymacg »

First of all, my apologies to you all for being a late riser 8)

The fact is that there are all sorts of wacky things out from the 1935 set of Orchha. Some of them are obvious printer's waste:

Image

Some of them are more subtle, like the perforation varieties. The stamps were officially issued perforated (in ten different gauges or combinations of gauges), but the State seems to have lost control over them. For that reason it's hard to know what might have actually been sold across a post office counter, under a post office counter or out the back door from the printer.

Gibbons once simply refused to list the set at all. Then they relented up to a point, and listed it with some perf varieties. Now they seem to have thrown in the towel on perf varieties, and they list them all. But nothing obviously printer's waste, of course. Perish the thought.

Now, the imperfs and imperf betweens: It certainly seems to be the case that imperf altogether is much more common than imperf between. The imperfs seem to have been legitimately issued. Here is a cover with one:

Image

SG 11a and SG 17

The whole issue is so surrounded by clouds of murk that noone knows if the imperfs were specifically ordered that way (remember that Indore ordered certain values of its 1927-37 set to be delivered imperf from Perkins, Bacon). Perhaps they were - but it's very unlikely that the imperf betweens were ordered.

The situation isn't unique to Orchha. You find cases of totally imperf being much cheaper than imperf betweens in Travancore-Cochin, for example, as well.

Ahh, the charms of the Uglies ... :roll:
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Post by Eric Casagrande »

Ah ... good news today. I got an email from the U.S. coordinator, who has received my membership payment. He is supposed to mail out the back issues of India Post to me, tomorrow morning.

I assume being so late in the year there are two back issues to-date ... and one more to go before year-end?

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Post by PeterS »

tonymacg wrote:
The whole issue is so surrounded by clouds of murk that noone knows if the imperfs were specifically ordered that way (remember that Indore ordered certain values of its 1927-37 set to be delivered imperf from Perkins, Bacon). Perhaps they were - but it's very unlikely that the imperf betweens were ordered.

The situation isn't unique to Orchha. You find cases of totally imperf being much cheaper than imperf betweens in Travancore-Cochin, for example, as well.

Ahh, the charms of the Uglies ... :roll:
Tony, i guess I assumed the uglies were perforated locally, given that imperf between don't seem all that expensive. I am surprised that Perkins, Bacon would have made too many such errors if they perforated the sheets prior to delivery?
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Post by tonymacg »

Peter, according to the note in Gibbons, after Indore SG 16-32, a 2 Anna, 2½ Anna, 3 Anna and 4 Anna were specifically ordered imperf from Perkins Bacon in 1933, and were used postally in 1938-42. Other values also exist imperf, but are probably just plate proofs.

Image

I have no record of why this was done: perhaps it was a Depression-era economy measure. By this time, the Indore Post Office was only carrying Government mail (it had been closed to the general public for 25 years) so maybe it was felt that public servants could just jolly well cut their stamps apart with scissors.
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Post by PeterS »

tonymacg wrote:Peter, according to the note in Gibbons, after Indore SG 16-32, a 2 Anna, 2½ Anna, 3 Anna and 4 Anna were specifically ordered imperf from Perkins Bacon in 1933, and were used postally in 1938-42. Other values also exist imperf, but are probably just plate proofs.

Image

I have no record of why this was done: perhaps it was a Depression-era economy measure. By this time, the Indore Post Office was only carrying Government mail (it had been closed to the general public for 25 years) so maybe it was felt that public servants could just jolly well cut their stamps apart with scissors.
Tony, I guess I was thinking more of the issue of misperfs. Everybody makes mistakes but I would be surprised if Perkins , Bacon made lots of them (ie. created imperf betweens etc). Either they would have delivered them imperf, as ordered, or correctly perfed, as ordered.

If the stamps were perforated locally I could credit much more then seemingly 'common' nature of imperf betweens.

Or is just that the catalogue value dioesn't really reflect scarcity? There are, for example, some plate numbers in Australian Elizabethan issues where only 2 or 3 examples are known. They are, to my mind, ridiculously under-cataloagued 9often only a few hundred dollars each) and are almost never seen for sale (at any price!).
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Post by Kev »

tonymacg wrote:I've finally organized myself to do something I should have done last century, and scanned my yellowing copies of maps of some of the Central Indian States. These were 8 miles = 1 inch, originally coloured maps, which - showing their age - were photocopied onto foolscap pages; very convenient for scanning on an A4 scanner. Some of the maps extend well over one page, and come in more than one part. I've scanned them at 300 dpi in greyscale, which seems to produce the best balance between file size and legibility.

With all those caveats, I have maps of the following States:
Barwani (well, of course)
Bhopal
Bijawar
Charkhari
Dhar
Indore
Orchha

If you feel your life would be incomplete without any/all of them, email me, and I'll send the scans.

Hello Tony,
I would very much like to have the map scans too please.
You could send them to kjdunne1@optusnet.com.au
Cheers, Kev.

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Post by tonymacg »

Will do, Kev
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Post by Kev »

Thanks Tony,
Now received!
Cheers, Kev.

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Post by tonymacg »

GlenStephens wrote: I learn something new each day here. 8)

I have never before heard of Las Bela, much less knew it had a Commonwealth connection!
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Glen, probably you and 99% of the rest of the stamp world. Las Bela hardly set the world on fire :D
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Post by tonymacg »

PeterS wrote: Tony, I guess I was thinking more of the issue of misperfs. Everybody makes mistakes but I would be surprised if Perkins , Bacon made lots of them (ie. created imperf betweens etc). Either they would have delivered them imperf, as ordered, or correctly perfed, as ordered.

If teh stamps were perforated locally I could credit much more then seemingly 'common' nature of imperf betweens.

Or is just that the catalogue value dioesn't really reflect scarcity? There are, for example, some plate numbers in Australian Elizabethan issues where only 2 or 3 examples are known. They are, to my mind, ridiculously under-cataloagued 9often only a few hundred dollars each) and are almost never seen for sale (at any price!).
Peter, the 1935 set was printed and perforated locally - by the Lakshmi Art Printing Works in Bombay, which I gather had the same address as the Batliboi Litho Works in Bombay, which was responsible for all the fun and games of the 1931 set of Charkhari, SG 45-53.

However, I think it may be unfair to class a lot of these errors from the Uglies as either deliberate and for profit, or as escaped printer's waste. These were often very frugal postal administrations. I can just imagine them failing to see any reason why a few missing perforations should mean a stamp should be binned.
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Post by tonymacg »

Poor old Morvi. With a name starting in the Ms, you're neither here nor there :D I always find I've run out of money by the time the auctions get down as far as Morvi, which is a great shame.

Morvi was such an unpretentious little state: it sidled onto the philatelic stage in 1931 with three values (here are the two low ones)

Image

SG 1, 2

and then added a 1 Anna value, and shrank the printing plate:

Image

SG 4a, 5-7

Keen-eyed readers will note that the sheet of 3 Pies (¼ Anna) stamps are blue, just like the ½ Anna stamps. SG 4a is in fact a colour error; the stamps should have been red, like SG 1. However, it seems to have been a rather large error, because the 'error' stamps are more common than the 'normal'.

New, slightly modified, designs were issued the following year:

Image

SG 8-11

Before Morvi burst forth with an entirely new design, still featuring the Maharaja, but printed in London (printers unknown):

Image

SG 12-15

From 1935 until its Post Office was closed in 1948, Morvi used the London plates to print locally:

Image

SG 16-19

Total face value of the set at the time: about 4 pence.

Sheets and covers of the later issues are reasonably plentiful

Image

SG 16

but the covers do tend to be rather unusually rich in 'character', even for the Uglies.

Morvi does have some very expensive errors, but leave them to one side and the rest of the State is pretty manageable, and sadly neglected. The usual fate of the Ms.
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Post by Eric Casagrande »

Okay ... so here's a good question:

How rare is it (collecting-wise), for a Feudatory States cover to be addressed in the English language? I realize this is probably far more likely in the Convention States, since they used the Brits postage (overprinted), which was required in order for a mail to depart outside a given State.

So I am guessing that for the most part, since Feudatory States mail stayed within the State, there was no need to scrawl the address in anything but Hindi (or other local dialect).

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Post by tonymacg »

Eric, it varies enormously, from State to State and time to time, but English addresses rend to be uncommon to rare - for the reasons you state. None of my eight Morvi covers are addressed in English, but you do find them occasionally from Jammu & Kashmir, used by foreign tourists on mail addressed to overseas destinations. I have a couple from Barwani, mostly philatelic; they turn up now and then from Cochin. I don't have any genuine examples from Dhar :wink:

However, the same sort of thing applied in the British Indian Post Office. If you look at an average batch of older covers or postcards, you'll find the majority are written in an Indian script, with the destination written in red. This was one of the duties of one of the clerks in most British Indian post offices: deciphering the destination post office, and writing it in Latin script.
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Post by Eric Casagrande »

So then (in theory at least), it must be equally as improbable to discover a Feudatory cover with the requisite Brit stamps for out of state travel (whether English is used or not).

Although, one would not be deemed unreasonable to suggest that, given a 50+ year timeframe, there must have been at least some covers which are crossfranked (i.e. Feudatory and Brit issues).

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Post by tonymacg »

Eric, there certainly are such beasts.

The prevalence varies enormously from State to State, depending on how available the British Indian post offices were in the State. Obviously, if there was a British Indian PO in a town, only a stamp collector would bother to add State stamps to convey the letter to the British PO. In Barwani, for example, the British provided saturation coverage of the State, and the only combination covers I've seen are purely philatelic.

However, probably rather more than half my Jammu & Kashmir are combination covers, because there was a thriving trade from the State with Amritsar and some other towns in British India. Here are two examples: the first showing a POSTAGE DUE stamp, because British Indian stamps weren't used (and addressed in English, too!), and the second with Indian ½ Anna stamp added.

Image

(Both Jammu & Kashmir SG 147)

The same applies to Jhalawar, with a great deal of the mail going to Indore. (Alas, I've never seen a triple - Jhalawar, Indian and Indore - franking.) Underneath that diabolically SOTN cancel is a Jhalawar SG 2:

Image

And finally, in some cases such as Jind and Sirmoor, just about the only surviving covers are combination covers, probably because the State authorities confiscated all the used stamps from the recipients of letters:

Image

SG J17, sent to Bombay
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Post by tonymacg »

One word for the neophyte or faint of heart contemplating Nandgaon: Don't. It's a very interesting State, with much to offer, and noone seems to be collecting it very seriously at the moment ... but it suffers from forgeries, reprints and dubious cancellations.

The first issue is quite straightforward, if you leave aside the small difficulties of the year of issue (was it 1887 or 1891?) and the problems of cancellations (Gibbons notes that the few known covers have manuscript cancellations, but that other types of cancellation are known on loose stamps.)

Image

SG 1-2

These were followed in 1893 (the State Post Office was closed in 1894) by a new type, printed wide apart, and closer together with wavy lines between the stamps:

Image

SG 3-4 and SG 5-6

These stamps were also handstamped with an oval containing the letters MBD (for the name of the ruler Raja Mahant Balram Das) for official use:

Image

SG O4-6

You will find two types of postmark on SG 3-6 and the Officials:

Image

The first type is questionable - at best, it doesn't seem to have actually been used on stamps that passed through the mail. The second type, alas, is the genuine postmark. This is the sort of thing that gives killers a bad name.

There are also all sorts of reprints. Some are tricky - close to the originals - some are in interesting new colours, such as purple. They're all basically worthless as singles, although they might have some value in sheets.
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Post by tonymacg »

If Nandgaon was a bit shady, Nawanagar is more the cockroach of the Uglies. Nawanagar stamps breed in the dark of your stockbook. You start out with a small selection of valueless stamps, and before you know the how or the why of it, they've multiplied into scores of valueless stamps.

Take SG 1 of 1877:

Image

SG 1

As you can see, it comes in a range of shades - and keeps appearing. Every old time collection has several of these. Gibbons rates them at 75p; I think about 7.5p would be closer to the mark. Used are another matter, and so are the perforated varieties - but they never turn up in those old-time collections, of course.

The second types of Nawanagar (1877-1880) are one of the Classics of the Uglies. Just about all the Great Names of Uglies collecting have collected them, and many have written about them.

Image

SG 6-9

They may look innocent enough, but the various settings are madly complex, with wrong values included in the plate, leading to wrong colour errors and all sorts of other philatelic shenanigans.

A word of warning: the coloured papers fade and discolour. You may think you have one of the rare errors of colour, but of course ...

These were replaced by a third set in 1893, which saw Nawanagar through until the State Post Office was closed in 1895:

Image

SG 13-15

These ones also breed, but at least they're attractive-looking stamps. They come on various types of paper, but most can be ignored. Just watch out for the (1 docra) black on laid paper. But of course, it never turns up in those old time collections either.

Finally, a word about the RADs. Many Nawanagar can be found with the Gujerati word RAD handstamped on them:

Image

There has been fierce argument for years over the significance of the handstamp, and not much consensus. Such consensus as there is is that this was not a postmark. But whether they were specimens, fiscals or something else ...
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Post by tonymacg »

Didn't want to squeeze this into the last post in case it got too unwieldy, but here is a sheet of SG 1. Sheets are much more respectable, because there were about 7 trillion, well perhaps 20, different settings of this stamp, with the cliches moved around. In two of the settings, cliches were inverted, giving rise to rather expensive tête-bêche varieties.

Image

SG 1
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Post by vandemonia »

Tony:

I want to thank you yet again for this wonderful exposition of the Uglies. What am I going to do? I wish I had 'discovered' these 30 years ago (when I was young and keen and with a disposable income much larger than I have now!)!

Now I want to ditch all my heartfelt collecting areas of 30 years and give my life over to the fascinating Feudatory Indian States! This is most disconcerting for someone who thought he had settled into a comfortable rut with old philatelic friends.

Middle age crisis? Much too late for that! You have a lot to answer for! You have turned my philatelic life on its head. Shame on you!

Woe is me!

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Post by tonymacg »

Don't know whether the peals of diabolical laughter have carried out that far, John, but ... I promise at some stage I'll post up my Cochin covers, such as they are.

And Travancore is still to come!
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Post by tonymacg »

Orchha, now, is good fun, and if you leave out the last set (very dull), it's mostly pretty affordable.

The fun began in 1897, when an itinerant Swiss watchmaker prepared a set of four stamps for Orchha - which the State rejected. Nothing daunted, the gentleman sold them, mint or CTO, to recoup his costs:

Image

The Orchha authorities may not have liked his idea in 1897, but in 1913 they issued two stamps which rather closely resembled the 1897 one. They were followed the next year by a longer set, distinguished from the 1913 values by shading around the State arms:

Image

All these stamps appeared in sheets of 8, and for the most part, won't break the bank, and look rather striking into the bargain. There were a couple of values printed on laid paper. They're expensive propositions: if you come across any of this set of Orchha, check the paper!

In 1935, Orchha produced the long set that made its name philatelic mud. I've discussed it at more length here: https://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?t=4721
These are the top and bottom values from the set:

Image

Briefly, the State lost control over the stamps, and they were dumped at below face value mint, and very cheaply CTO. All sorts of perforation errors and printer's waste also escaped out into the market.

In an effort to restore some sort of order, the State stamped the backs of the stamps sold over the counter at full face value. I have a 5 Rupee stamp with such a seal, meaning that some moron actually paid full price for it :lol: :lol: :lol: Here is what to look for:

Image

The set was printed by a firm, Lakshmi Art Printing Works, in Bombay which, by a strange coincidence, shared an address with the Batliboi Litho Works in Bombay, printers of the 1931 set of Charkhari that wrecked that State's good philatelic name.

Eventually, the State authorities had had enough, and in 1939 released a very sober set, printed by the Indian government stamp printer. This set is very worthy but so dull after the fireworks of 1935. Here are examples of the low and high value types:

Image

The set does go up to 25 Rupees, but that value is listed at £10,000, and the 15 Rupees is listed at £15,000, so I'm afraid ...

To close, here is a very late dated cover with five of the 1 Anna stamp of the 1939 set paying the registered letter rate:

Image

For most of its life Orchha seems to have charged 5 Annas for a registered letter. This was 1 to 1½ annas more expensive than the British Indian post office, so you'd wonder why any citizen of Orchha would use the local post for registration.

There you have Orchha. Once again, reasonably cheap and very cheerful. (And if you want a map of Orchha, email me.)
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Post by Eric Casagrande »

tonymacg wrote:Orchha, now, is good fun, and if you leave out the last set (very dull), it's mostly pretty affordable.

The fun began in 1897, when an itinerant Swiss watchmaker prepared a set of four stamps for Orchha - which the State rejected. Nothing daunted, the gentleman sold them, mint or CTO, to recoup his costs:

Image

The Orchha authorities may not have liked his idea in 1897, but in 1913 they issued two stamps which rather closely resembled the 1897 one. They were followed the next year by a longer set, distinguished from the 1913 values by shading around the State arms:

Image

All these stamps appeared in sheets of 8, and for the most part, won't break the bank, and look rather striking into the bargain. There were a couple of values printed on laid paper. They're expensive propositions: if you come across any of this set of Orchha, check the paper!
So there are not actually any numbers for the rejected stamps?

Also just to clarify, is the first row of pictures for the postally issued stamps, SG3 through SG7?

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Post by tonymacg »

Eric, numbers issued/rejected are very scarce for most States. Occasionally they are available, such as for the first five printings of Barwani SG 32-42, Idar SG 3-6 and some of the Bundi Daggers, but that's definitely unusual. AFAIK, there are no numbers issued available for any Orchha issue. The 1935 issue, in particular, got completely out of control. Even if the Orchha authorities had figures for legitimate sales, they wouldn't reflect what was actually placed on the market one way or another.

The stamps in the top row are the unissued 1897 set. SG 1-2 of Orchha are maybe a little scarcer than Gibbons gives them credit for: in any case, I don't have them.

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Post by OttawaMike »

Tony - I really look forward to every addition to this thread. Thanks! :D

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Post by tonymacg »

Mike, thanks! But you might want to skip the next but one: it's almost impossible to find anything to say about Rajpipla ... :cry:
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Poonch is another one of those in-your-face Uglies. No half measures here. If your idea of a proper postage stamp is multicoloured, photogravure printed, with a nicely thematic design, with (untouched) gum on the back, and lettering in some European language on the front ... pass on.

All Poonch stamps were handstamped from single dies onto sheets of paper, usually with the spaces ruled in pencil. Stamps for civilian use were in red, and for government use in grey/black.

The first three ½ Anna issues of Poonch (1876 to 1879) are scarce (SG 1 used) to horrible rarities (SG 1 and 1a mint, SG 2). All my efforts to pick up even a used copy of SG 1 have come to nothing: someone else has always wanted it more. As these are such rare stamps, care is needed in buying them: there are plenty of rather optimistic attributions out there.

In 1880, Poonch burst forth with a new set of four designs, ½ Anna, 1 Anna, 2 Annas and 4 Annas:

Image

I find the designs gorgeous, myself. I told the Constant Companion so, and ever since she recovered her composure, she has never trusted my judgment. No accounting for tastes, I suppose.

The first designs were released on an off-white paper, but over the next ten years or so, Poonch used white, yellow and blue papers of all sorts and shades. In 1884, Poonch released a 1 Pice (¼ Anna) stamp in a design that can easily be confused with SG 1-2. Here are examples of the design of the 1 Pice (first) and of some of the coloured papers:

Image

Image

The last stamp is an example of the late (1888) printings in aniline inks.

And here are the Service stamps. They were printed on wove or laid bâtonné papers:

Image

None of the basic Service stamps is particularly rare, although some of the Ordinary values on certain papers are rare. The first issue, on yellowish white wove paper is scarce, and again, is often confused with the printings on yellow or orange-buff papers or the printings on wove bâtonné.

Finally, since the question of combination covers has been raised, here is a typical example of a postal stationery post card, sent from Poonch, through the exchange office with British India at Kahuta to Rawalpindi:

Image

SG 27: 1 Pice on yellow wove bâtonné; the postmark on the Poonch stamp is the usual type for Poonch

There are no reprints that I know of, but there are forgeries. These can be quite deceptive, but often give themselves away by being too obviously printed, rather than handstamped. Here are three examples of the 4 Annas, the last rather pathetic, and a genuine 4 Annas below:

Image

Sold on Poonch yet?
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Post by Eric Casagrande »

While we're on the subject of Poonch ...

Is the bottom scan all of forgeries? If so, and while it may be little more than a general rule of thumb, I do wonder if one method of identification of these little beasties would be to check and see if the four outer sides of the "handstamp" have most or all of their "pearls".

The "realies" don't seem to have many of the pearls evident, on all sides (for the most part), at least based on the scans given ... whereas the "falsies" (no pun intended), seem to have nearly all of them.
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Post by vandemonia »

I'm looking forward to Rajasthan! The name is redolent with hints of great wealth, prestige and romantic boyhood memories!

Keep up the great work Tony!

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Post by tonymacg »

Eric Casagrande wrote:While we're on the subject of Poonch ...

Is the bottom scan all of forgeries? If so, and while it may be little more than a general rule of thumb, I do wonder if one method of identification of these little beasties would be to check and see if the four outer sides of the "handstamp" have most or all of their "pearls".

The "realies" don't seem to have many of the pearls evident, on all sides (for the most part), at least based on the scans given ... whereas the "falsies" (no pun intended), seem to have nearly all of them.
Eric, the top three are all duds; the bottom one is OK.

Basically, you're right in trying to differentiate them. The genuine stamps were handstamped; the dangerous forgeries were printed by some more modern means. If the stamp looks too well printed, it's almost certainly bad. The postmarks have been faked too, and they are usually too clean and neat also.
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Post by tonymacg »

John, I'm sorry to have to disappoint you about philatelic Rajasthan: it's definitely one to approach with long-handled (say about a meter) tongs ...

But first a very little background. Rajasthan was formed in 1948-9 by the newly independent India, as a first step in dismantling the old States. It was a union of the former states of Rajputana with a slab of British Indian territory which fell within the area. Rajasthan took in the then stamp-issuing States of Bundi, Dungarpur, Jaipur and Kishangarh, as well as the (philatelically) deceased states of Alwar, Jhalawar and Tonk. (Bahawalpur had been administered by the British as part of Rapjutana, but being majority Muslim, it acceded to Pakistan rather than India.) The individual state post offices were closed on 1 April 1950.

Bundi, Jaipur and Kishangarh overprinted their own stamps with the word 'Rajasthan' in Hindi (in Bundi and Kishangarh) and in Hindi and English in Jaipur. The problems arise with the handstamped overprints on Bundi and Kishangarh: most experts will refuse to certify the handstamps, because they're too easy to forge.

Here are, first, the handstamps on Bundi. They were all made on the last set of Bundi, SG 86-92, and come in black, violet and blue. The blue handstamps are generally the least common.

Image

SG 3A, 3B and 3C

Bundi also machine overprinted the high values of the set:

Image

SG 11-14

These are not so problematic as the Bundi handstamps.

Jaipur was quite restrained:

Image

SG 15-25

and quite tasteful in its choice of colours for the overprints.

The fun and games really start with Kishangarh. Kishangarh seems to have cleaned out all the remainders in the State Treasury, going back 50 years to the 1899-1901 issues, and with representatives of each issue after that:

Image

If you're determined to own a specimen of the Kishangarh Rajasthan handstamps, compare the catalogue values for the overprinted and unoverprinted stamps. If they're cheaper with the overprint, you're probably safe.

Also, do beware of used examples. Once again, if the used are cheaper than or the same as the mint, you're OK. However, there is a very creative gentleman in England who has been tarting up some of these stamps with cancellations, to enhance their interest to the uninformed collector.

You can also find the Kishangarh handstamp on cut-outs of the ½ Anna postcard from the 1904 set, stuck onto letters and used as a postage stamp. Sorry I can't show one, but here is an example from Kishangarh immediately before the Rajasthan period:

Image

The Dungarpur Post Office was probably still functioning at the time, but AFAIK, no overprints have been recorded on its stamps. And I'd be very cautious indeed if any suddenly appeared now, particularly if that creative gentleman in England was offering them :wink:

Not too devastating, I hope, John ...
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Post by vandemonia »

No ... not devastating ... I'll stick with Cochin!

What is devastating is the drop in the Ozzie dollar and the share market and ... ?

Need to be very careful at the moment spending on philatelic items. Cochin may have to wait for a while!

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Post by tonymacg »

I know exactly how you feel.

Until just recently, I used to occasionally daydream of actually retiring when I reached 65, in three years. I've put such childish things behind me again: they'll have to prise my keyboard from my cold, dead hands.
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Post by Eric Casagrande »

vandemonia wrote:No ... not devastating ... I'll stick with Cochin!

What is devastating is the drop in the Ozzie dollar and the share market and ... ?

Need to be very careful at the moment spending on philatelic items. Cochin may have to wait for a while!

John
This is what I had been suggesting in another thread.

Given the current worldwide financial crisis, it might be there will be more available stamps put up for sale ... but less available bidders ... which may force the sale price down and allow for some very nice bargains if anyone has the extra cash.

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Post by vandemonia »

Eric, what you say makes sense to me! I am certainly gearing up to sell much philatelic material that I have accumulated over the years that is not connected to my collecting areas. But I'll wait and look and try to learn to see if it is worth my while.

However, the Australian dollar has dropped by 30 cents against the $US even though we are in better financial shape than most other countries (according to the IMF).

Our government will only guarantee savings up to $20,000, and alongside this is the huge drop in superannuation funds. People are extremely worried about sufficient funds for their present, and their retirement. I'm not sure that they have extra cash to spend on stamps (or want to spend it in that way).

These are troubling times!

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Post by tonymacg »

We can dispose of the next three states in fairly short order.

Rajkot arguably doesn't even belong here: you won't find it in Gibbons or any other stamp catalogue, because it only issued postal stationery. These were postcards valued at 3 Pies (¼ Anna) and 6 Pies (½ anna), and ½ Anna envelopes they were handstamped in violet on cream stock, and appear always to have been signed by the postmaster. They were inscribed only in Gujerati. They are all quite scarce: they usually sell at upwards of £100 each when they come up for auction. I'm sorry I can't illustrate one.

Rajpipla is also short and sweet. In 1880, it issued a set of three:

Image

SG 1-3

which were withdrawn in 1886 when the State Post Office was closed. Genuine used are rare, and covers sell for astronomical prices (a copy of SG 1 used on a British Indian ¼ Anna postcard sold for £2800 in 2006).

Rajpipla did also issue postal stationery. Letter sheets like this:

Image

in four denominations: 1, 2, 3 and 4 pies, all in black (this is a 2 pies) and 2, 3 and 4 pies envelopes, which are also extremely rare (a stained and creased 3 pies envelope also sold for £2800 in 2006; the letter sheets, on the other hand, sell for a few pounds each in fair condition.)

Shahpura, like its neighbour Dungarpur, was for a long time a phantom state. It issued its first stamp in 1914, a typeset 1 Pice stamp red on various coloured papers, followed later by a black on pink, which are all of extreme rarity. In 1932, it produced this postal-fiscal:

Image

SG F1

which remained in use until Shahpura was absorbed into Rajasthan in 1948. This was also used as a fiscal, and quite a number of apparently mint copies were on sale on eBay a few years ago: I leave it to the reader to decide how to take any copies of Shahpura they're offered. (The stamps above came from the eBay source.)
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Sirmoor had a relatively short philatelic life, 1878 to 1902, but it was quite action-packed.

The first issue was one of the less adventurous stamp designs:

Image

SG 1-2

For some unaccountable reason, these stamps proved popular enough with our stamp-collecting ancestors to prompt Sirmoor to order a reprint. That caused a problem, though: stocks were exhausted and the original lithographic stones had been wiped and reused. In its innocence, the Sirmoor Post Office sent the printers illustrations of the stamps, complete with simulated perforations. The printers executed the order faithfully, complete with 'perforations':

Image

SG 3-4

I show two types of cancellation. The first seems to have been a CTO; the second is a genuine usage (and quite a late date. These stamps were probably originally intended mainly for collectors, but demand being lower than expected, they were put to their proper use.)

In 1885, Sirmoor decided to do things properly, and had a set of four values lithographed by Waterlow:

Image

SG 5-9

These stamps are much more traditional philatelic fare. Plenty of shades, and two different types of each the two low values, varying in the size and position of the white dots before and after the values.

A word of caution on condition: It's relatively uncommon to find these stamps in fine condition. Pulled and short perforations and the gum problems common to late Victorian stamps (missing, thinned, and once having been glued to an album page) are almost the norm.

Sirmoor had quite got into the swing of soaking the collector by this stage. In 1894, they released a long thematic set:

Image

SG 22-9

recess printed by Waterlow. Gibbons notes that these are 'perf 12 to 15 and compounds'. I've never taken the set seriously enough to see what perforations I could find in it, but you might like to take on the challenge, gentle reader.

Take care with the 1 Rupee value. It's often found oxidized.

In 1899, Sirmoor followed up with some more high values, again recess printed by Waterlow:

Image

Treat any value above 2 Annas used with the greatest suspicion. If it's obviously CTO, and you're happy with that, OK; if it purports to be postally used, proceed at your own peril. The actual postal usage of the high values must have been tiny.

Sirmoor also overprinted SG 5-9 with On S(irmoor) S(tate) S(ervice), for government use. (Note that they didn't bother with any higher values!) And this is where Sirmoor really began to get into its stride. Gibbons distinguish nine machine printed and another nine handstamped types of overprint, and a couple of very rare combinations of both. Here are a few examples:

Image

The last (2 Annas) stamp is an example of the handstamps; each element was handstamped separately. Of course, errors occurred:

Image

SG 60e, SG 65b and SG 92a

In the first stamp, the second 'S' is inverted and the full stop is raised. The second is a straightforward inverted overprint. In the last stamp, only the word 'On' was printed - the 'S' must have been mislaid; this 'error' is actually more common than the complete handstamp.

Some other stamps were also overprinted On S S S. The low values of the elephant set turn up from time to time. Apparently, these were never put into official use.

One more quirk of Sirmoor is worth noting. It was a small state and its stamps were only valid for postage within the State; however, it was conveniently close to Simla, the Summer capital of India at the time, so could be visited by stamp collectors fairly easily. Nevertheless, used copies of Sirmoor are usually plentiful, and often cheaper than mint. This was because the Sirmoor postmen were under instructions to recover all used postage stamps from the recipients of letters. Understandably, covers are extremely rare. (A commercial cover with a pair of SG 6 and a single of SG 9a - the 3 Pies orange and 2 Annas Carmine - went for over £2000 in 2006, against a catalogue value for the used stamps off cover of £3.60. Now who wants to soak stamps off cover ... :twisted: )
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Post by crosscrescent »

I like that story of the printers printing the stamps with printed perforations to boot. Haven't seen the other stamps in the lower part of your above post.

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Andrew, to my mind that's one of the great charms of the Uglies. They may often have set out to exploit the collector, but they did it in such a delightfully naive way. The two 'reprints' had a total face value of ½ anna, or about a halfpenny at the time. Compare that with some Third World administrations (Australia Post comes to mind) today ...
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Post by Eric Casagrande »

tonymacg wrote:Andrew, to my mind that's one of the great charms of the Uglies. They may often have set out to exploit the collector, but they did it in such a delightfully naive way. The two 'reprints' had a total face value of ½ anna, or about a halfpenny at the time. Compare that with some Third World administrations (Australia Post comes to mind) today ...
Great Britain and Ghana also come to mind. :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Now, Soruth is one the heavyweights of the Uglies. You could say it's the epitome of the Uglies. Just for starters, 'Soruth' isn't the proper name of the state that issued the stamps (which also appear inscribed 'Saurasthra'). Soruth/Saurasthra is the wider region in which the State lay; the stamps were issued by Junagadh State, but you'll search in vain for any stamps claiming to be from 'Junagadh'. Why? Ask me another, please.

Soruth was also the first Ugly out of the blocks, in 1864:

Image

SG 1

Do not attempt to soak these stamps off paper, even in a Desert Magic drying book. The watercolour ink just doesn't go well with soaking.

These were followed, in 1868, by a series of typeset stamps, of exquisite (or excruciating, according to taste) complexity. There are said to be a couple of unique items in this group, or at least stamps of which only two or three are known. This is hardly surprising, because the philatelic world didn't know of their existence until the 1890s, when they had been superseded.

Image

SG 12 SG 13
SG 11 on piece
Reprints

You're more likely to encounter reprints of these stamps than the real thing. The Soruth PO obligingly produced a range of reprints (strictly, imitations) of these stamps once the collectors started clamouring for them. They're not hard to distinguish: they look far too neat and tidy, and they don't match any of the genuine types.

If you feel your life would be incomplete without a closer acquaintance with these (or any other Soruth stamps, for that matter), you must find yourself a copy of the Soruth Handbook from the India Study Circle. It will give you all the detail you're likely to be able to handle.

After the typesets, Soruth felt the need to move upmarket:

Image

As this was Soruth, these stamps also have quite a complex story to tell: laid and wove paper, perf and imperf, and with colour errors and varieties, as well as the obligatory perforation errors. However, leaving aside the errors, they are quite accessible: the total catalogue value of these four is less than £6, and much less used.

These stamps were then surcharged in Indian currency, when Soruth decided to switch from its own coinage:

Image

and finally, new designs, similar to the old ones, were issued, inscribed in Indian currency:

Image

Again, they occur perf or imperf, and on wove or laid paper, and with a nice assortment of perforation varieties.

In my next post, we move on to the modern era of Soruth: more drama, if of a different kind.
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Soruth now decided to have portrait stamps made showing the ruler. A One Anna value was released on the 1 September 1923, and the same stamp surcharged 3 Pies as a temporary measure was released at the same time. A permanent 3 Pies stamp followed a month later. These, like all the previous issues, were printed locally.

Image

This being Soruth, and a heavy user of stamps, there were two plates prepared of each of the values, the first attempts being unsatisfactory; there were differences of paper and perforation again. The different settings can be distinguished by the marginal inscriptions in the sheets - and sheets are not particularly hard to find. (Though you might want to draw the line at a sheet from each of the 35 settings of the 3 Pies on wove paper ...)

In 1929, an increase in postage rates meant a 6 Pies stamp was needed. This difficulty was solved by omitting every second vertical row of perforations on the 3 Pies stamp, yielding pairs imperf between; these are actually cheaper than pairs of stamps perforated between.

Finally, in 1929, the State decided to have its stamps printed professionally, and turned to the Indian Government printer at Nasik. They produced this rather handsome lithographed set:

Image

The second One Anna stamp, inscribed 'Postage and Revenue' was added in 1935.

A note for any thematic collectors reading this: the Gir lion shown on the ½ and 4 Anna stamps is a representative of the last colony of Asiatic lions. They were once found across Persia and India, but are now confined to the Gir Hills in Junagadh State. The Kathi horse on the 2 and 8 Anna stamps is a distinctive breed, peculiar to Junagadh.

These stamps continued in use until Indian independence in 1947. The ruler was a Muslim, and wanted to join Pakistan, but the majority of the population being Hindu, Junagadh was taken into India.

Stocks of stamps began to run low at this time, and the Indian Government printer was unable to help print more, because it was fully engaged on the new stamps for independent India. Soruth was therefore forced to start surcharging existing stocks with new values. At first, One Anna, for the basic letter rate:

Image
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As these stocks began to run low, Soruth was forced into a rather unusual expedient. It had been combined with a number of smaller surrounding states into a United States of Saurashtra, and one of these other states was Bhavnagar. Bhavnagar had never issued postage stamps, but it did have Revenue stamps, and Soruth secured a supply of these, and overprinted them for its own use:

Image

There are numerous smallish errors in the lettering of the overprint. (If they had occurred on a British or Australian stamp, they would have achieved full catalogue status, but being from an Ugly ...)

The last regular postage stamp of Soruth was a further One Anna surcharge on the 3 Pies pictorial, in 1950.

At the introduction of the 1929 pictorials, Soruth also released stamps overprinted SARKARI, for government use. The initial supplies (evidently pretty large) were also overprinted at Nasik, but they were supplemented by locally overprinted stamps in 1932:

Image

(Nasik overprint at left; local overprint at right)

The local overprints are all much scarcer than the Nasik.

The same problems of shortages developed in the late 1940s, and again a series of surcharges was produced:

Image

(The 8 Anna value shows the constant errors small first A and large second A in 'ANNA')

Orders for these stamps from stamp dealers were refused, so that mint copies of all of these are expensive (from £350 for the One Anna on Eight Annas to a cool £14,000 for the One Anna on Two Annas).

The One Rupee value was also handstamped ONE ANNA. It may surprise to learn that these have been forged ... Only touch them with a certificate, preferably from the BPA.

The last SARKARI overprints were made in 1949, using the local overprint

Image

SG O20

Some postage stamps were also overwritten in handwriting 'SARKARI', in Gujerati or English at this time. They sell at around the full Gibbons price of upwards of £120 - but again, only with a certificate!

That concludes Soruth, or Saurashtra, or Junagadh ... Something for everyone, really - the died-in-the-wool Uglies person, those who prefer something a trifle more (shall we say) civilized, and even the thematic collector. If you concentrate only on the middle period, and leave aside the early and late rarities, the material is abundant and cheap to only moderately painful. Well worth a look!
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Post by GJ50 »

tonymacg wrote:
Lastly, we come to the 1947 Maharaja's Silver Jubilee set:

Image

Lovely stamps, beautifully recess printed by De La Rue - but sadly, dirt common. Any mixed lot of Jaipur is likely to contain these stamps.
Tony, these are beautiful. Do you ever see them on cover commercially used ?
NZ2020 FIAP INTERNATIONAL STAMP EXHIBITION
Auckland
March 19 to 22, 2020

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