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Banging the drum for the Uglies - Indian States stamps

Posted: 17 Sep 2008 18:50
by tonymacg
Elsewhere on Stampboards, there is a poll on members' top ten 'countries'. I was delighted to see a few of the Uglies bob up on some lists. I thought that I would take those who haven't yet been exposed to their questionable charms yet through the Uglies, to try to explain why you might like to add some, or all, of them to your lists of favourites.

First, to clear the ground a little, some boring background. I don't know who coined the term 'the Uglies' for the Indian States, but it goes back a long way. Probably a Penny Black fancier. Anyway, it refers to the group of Indian princely states that, at different times between 1864 and 1953, ran their own post offices, and issued their own stamps - in most cases, valid only for postage within the borders of the particular State.

Some of the States were very large. Hyderabad had a population about the size of Australia at the end of its stamp-issuing life in the late 1940s. Jasdan at the same time had only about 35,000 inhabitants. Some were long-lived: Soruth was the first State to issue stamps, in 1864, and continued until 1950. Dhar issued its first stamps in 1897, and ceased in 1901. Dungarpur first issued stamps in 1933 and continued until 1948 - largely completely ignored by the philatelic world; Gibbons didn't admit it to the catalogue until the 1990s.

Two things tend to put collectors off the Uglies: their reputation for fakes, forgeries and reprints of all kinds, and the scripts used.

Of course there are fakes etc, but so there are for all the countries in the Top Ten.

You apply the same techniques to sorting out the good and bad amongst the Uglies as with any other country. And Knowledge is Power - you need to know your subject.

The scripts can seem a bit daunting to begin with - but remember, they're all alphabetic. With the help of an alphabet for the particular script you're looking at, you can often make remarkable headway. lists just about every alphabet known to man, and explains how they work.

So the individual States.

First Alwar:


Alwar is a great little State for both the general collector and the specialist. Most of the stamps are inexpensive and quite available.

For the generalist, there were five basic stamps: the four shown, and a variety of the large blue stamp in green (which is rare and expensive, which is why I can't show it).

For the specialist, there were several lithographic stones used for the first two types, made up of repeated groups of small numbers of transfers, all of which can be plated (stoned?). On top of that, there were three periods of postmarks: small seals in the early days, larger rectangular cancels later, and finally, orthodox CDSs. Some combinations of stone and cancel are rare and desirable.

Next is Bahawalpur, the least ugly of the Uglies:


With the exception of a set of overprints on India at Indian Independence (rare and expensive), all the stamps of Bahawalpur were recess printed by De La Rue, in the best George VI style. Well, the Amir of Bahawalpur was a philatelist ... (The collector's dream, isn't it: to be absolute ruler, able to order and issue your own stamps, with your own portrait.)

Unfortunately, or so the story goes, the Amir was a bit of a man-about-town in London, and occasionally found himself short of a little loose change - so he would phone De La Rues and order up a few more sheets of whatever was on hand. Certainly, most issues of Bahawalpur are very reasonably priced mint.

Used are another matter. These stamps certainly did postal service, but genuinely used are in most cases scarce, and unless you know what you're doing, used and covers are better avoided.

Next up, Bamra and (wait for it) Barwani ...

Posted: 17 Sep 2008 19:30
by Alastair
Great stuff, Tony!!

I can see this is going to be very instructive for the newbies such as myself. :D :D

Thanks Tony

Posted: 17 Sep 2008 20:42
by DarrenK
I have come across lots of these in amongst Indian stamps & have simply put them aside for another day. I shall follow your thread with interest.

Posted: 17 Sep 2008 21:03
by Biggles
I have been reading your other posts about these stamps for some time. Your obvious enthusiasm for them is great.

I don't think I had ever come across any of them until I saw the pictures for the Bahawalpur stamps. One of which I have. Yay! As "ugly" stamps I guess that they never turned up in the packets I used to buy.

So I'll be keeping my eyes open for further posts on these types of stamps.

Posted: 17 Sep 2008 21:08
by crosscrescent

I'll be following this thread too, you can bet strongly on it.



Posted: 17 Sep 2008 21:31
by tonymacg
Thanks to all who've responded - always keen to pass on the infection!

Now to Bamra


The first issues of Bamra (the first two examples above) are bedevilled by reprints: there are far more reprints around than genuine. The description of how to distinguish the reprints in Gibbons isn't particularly helpful. The best way, unfortunately, is to compare any candidate with a sheet of the genuine items. (If you really do fancy Bamra, get hold of a copy of the India Study Circle Bamra Handbook. It will set you straight on this and the next issue.)

The second issue of Bamra, also type-set, is great fun. It includes not only haphazard mixtures of upper and lower case Ps in Postage, and of different lengths and positions of the elephant's trunk holding a log (the ornament in the centre), but some good spelling errors. The block of SG 8, the ¼ Anna on rose-lilac (never mind the scan), is the prime example, with 'Eeudatory' for 'Feudatory', 'Quatrer' for 'Quarter' and an inverted 'e' in Postage.

There were a number of different settings of these stamps, and assigning individual stamps to their proper settings is a challenge, but a bit of fun for those long Winter evenings - if you have them.

These stamps are quite common CTO - commercially used like the last pair are a rather different matter.

Now what I've all been waiting for, Barwani:




To be perfectly honest, Barwani isn't for everybody. It's a bit like a rather ripe blue cheese: great if you can stand the smell and ignore the appearance. The simple lifers can pick up one of each type and value at full Gibbons for less than £50, but will miss out on a great deal of fun and games. The different settings and printings are enough to keep the specialist entertained, and impoverished, for years. I've discussed the complexities of Barwani at length elsewhere here on Stampboards, but - hopelessly biased as I am - if you're after something a little less trodden over than, say George V Penny Reds of Australia, you could do worse ...

After the complexities of Barwani, the equal complexities of Bhopal:


Bhopal splits into two neat halves: 1872 to 1908, when the State Post Office was closed to the general public, and 1908 to 1949, when the stamps were used only for Bhopal government service.

The first period - the first three examples above - produced a long run of lithographed stamps in two basic designs: the square, with the ruler's monogram impressed in the centre, and the smaller, rectangular types. The stones were cleaned off after each printing, and entirely new designs were put down at each new printing. English spelling errors abound ('NWAB' for 'NAWAB' on the first and third examples), and for the most part, these stamps are fairly accessible; SG 1 is a bit of a problem, of course. I'm still waiting for my first copy.

There were reprints of these, and imitations of them as well, issued after 1908. If you can find a Gibbons Part 1 from the 1940s or earlier, you'll find them listed there. Otherwise, the India Study Circle Bhopal Handbook will tell you all you need to know - including the plating of each of these early period issues.

The second period began rather unpromisingly. Frankly stodgy: stamps designed by public servants for other public servants to use. But in the 1930s, Bhopal remembered the collector, and burst forth with a series of triangular basic letter rate stamps, followed by some rather attractive pictorials. Most of these are still quite cheap, used at least, and have a nice thematic appeal as well: the two supporters in the Bhopal arms are fish. (Unexpected, because Bhopal was quite some distance from the sea.)

Next, something quite different, Bhor ...

Posted: 18 Sep 2008 00:12
by tonymacg
Poor Bhor, the butt of so many bad jokes, and a classic Ugly:


Of course the designs are pretty basic. Very basic in fact: just the name and the value. So this was no real attempt to exploit stamp collectors, but just a little place making do with what was to hand.

You can complete Bhor in pretty short order. Hang around eBay for a while, and you'll assemble Bhor SG 1 to 3. Genuine used of Bhor SG 3 may take a while, of course.

But there is a bit more to Bhor than you'd guess from Gibbons. As you can see, there are shades, not just the 'carmine (shades)' Gibbons list. And apart from the native paper (variable thickness, brownish, often with tiny pieces of wood visible) there were also printings on European laid paper that Gibbons don't list.

And just try and find Bhor on cover, if you'd like a real challenge ...

Now Bijawar, and for once, I can't think of anything nice to say about an Ugly:


These stamps were 99.99% intended for the collector market. I've seen one utterly philatelic cover, and no commercial covers, and I don't recall ever seeing a commercially used stamp of Bijawar. Having nothing nice to say about it, I'll say no more, and pass on to an old favourite

Bundi which I've also covered in more depth elsewhere.

Bundi is a three-part story. We start with the lithographed Daggers - classic Uglies:


although I find the design really appealing. These can all be plated, or stoned if you prefer, because each stamp on the sheet was drawn in separately - and there were some big sheets, too: 294 in some cases. Not all that easy to display, but spectacular ...

Next came the Sacred Cows, one of the most popular collecting areas in the Uglies:


These were printed in sheets of four, readily identifiable, cliches - over 58 settings, in 17 values, and they were also overprinted for official use, in three different types of overprint, which can be found in red, black or green, in just about every imaginable position. Looking for a lifetime occupation?

After all this, Bundi went soft:


though any attempt to find genuine used of this set and the next


will only end in tears.

And on next to bad-boy Bussahir

Posted: 18 Sep 2008 01:03
by tonymacg
Bussahir has a well-deserved bad reputation. When dealers mutter about the Indian States being all reprints and remainders, they might well be thinking of Bussahir. If you have any Bussahir stamps, they're probably remainders or reprints - in my collection, the ratio is about 5 or 6 remainders etc to one genuine. Here is a strip from the bottom of the sheet of some genuine stamps:


They were actually used for an actual postal service nonetheless. Genuine, commercial covers exist, although they're definitely not cheap. And there were registered mail ledgers with genuine stamps in them:


And these are what to look out for:


Stamps with these types of monograms are remainders, as are any with CDSs of Rampur for the '19 MA 00'. According to the State accounts, they were still selling them to collectors in the 1940s, although the State Post Office closed on April Fools Day 1901.

So to Charkhari, which also has a rather shaky reputation:


The first and third types look like, and maybe were, rubber stamps - and being easy to forge, they have been. Extensively. Buy only from reliable suppliers!

The second and fourth types were the mainstay of Charkhari for years. Not very inventive designs, perhaps, but a page of them makes a nice display - and tete-beche pairs are common, because sheets were usually printed from two impressions of the plate, with one inverted in relation to the other. These have also been forged, and there are forged postmarks as well, just to add interest.

I've dealt with the 1931 pictorial set, of which the last stamp is the top value, elsewhere here on Stampboards. This set is good if you like inexpensive but spectacular errors. It has 'em all: imperf betweens, tete-beche, missing centres and so on. Possibly printer's waste, but listed in Gibbons ...

So, with a sigh of relief from the traditionalists, on to Cochin.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008 03:09
by vinobub
YES, now we're talking! Get on with showing some real stamps from a credible political entity, Tony!! :P

Posted: 18 Sep 2008 10:07
by mrboggler
Hi Tony.
I think "Someone " on the US election circuit summed up Barwani and Co, with a good line,
"You can put Lipstick on a Pig, but you still got the pig" :lol:

anyway keep on spreading the infection.its good for business.


Posted: 18 Sep 2008 10:25
by tonymacg
Ladies and gentlemen, and any others reading this, I will resume as soon as I've discharged a few tiresome duties in the shadow world where I earn a living :wink:

Vinobub: Well, Barwani was an 11 gun State ...

Mr Boggler: Yes, but it is an interesting pig ...


Posted: 18 Sep 2008 11:59
by vinobub
of couuuurrrse Tony (soothingly)... :P no seriously, i think Indian states in general is a great area, and Barwani has a lot more character than most.. it's generally the smaller states that do.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008 12:04
by tonymacg
My feathers are now de-ruffled :D

Posted: 18 Sep 2008 17:46
by tonymacg
Now Cochin is for those who don't like all that weird stuff. Cochin is for those who do like perforations, and watermarks, and the traditional printing methods - letterpress, recess and lithography. I was going to skip over it fairly lightly, but given the level of interest (and threats of physical violence :wink:), I've decided to go into a little more depth.

The first (1892) issues of Cochin, like just about all of Cochin, are quite easy to find:


They come with two different watermarks (which are quite hard to make out) and in rare printings on laid paper (which is quite easy to make out).

Two warnings: the large type One Puttan stamps were primarily fiscals. Beware of cleaned fiscal cancels. There is also a small One Puttan stamp in the colour of the Two Puttan (deep violet). This was a fiscal. Don't make the mistake I made of paying a fancy price for it as an error of colour :oops:

These were followed by new types in 1898:


These come in thick and thin papers - quite distinctive when you have them in your tweezers.

Both these sets can be plated: they exhibit some nice plate flaws, for those who like that sort of thing ...

The Three Pies was also reprinted in mauve and surcharged '2'. These surcharges are technically quite interesting, with three different fonts of '2' used, and '2's inserted by handstamp.

Then followed the thoroughly mainstream era of the Maharaja heads types:


The first and second Maharaja types were recess printed by Perkins, Bacon; the third, initially by Perkins Bacon, before the work was given to a firm in Madras (now Chennai) who printed these, and the remaining types by lithography.

The second Maharaja types are probably the most interesting. They have inverted watermarks (and who knows if they've all been detected) and four different perforations. (These are described by Gibbons, but not valued separately. The basic stamps are readily available, used at least, and again can offer hours of innocent fun with the Instanta.)

Distinguishing the recess and litho types of the third Maharaja types is quite simple, once you have examples of both. Even without, they shouldn't cause any serious difficulty.

The watermark was changed from the one umbrella per stamp of the first three types to a large sheet watermark during the printings of the fourth Maharaja type, probably due to wartime supply shortages. This produced some extremely rare combinations of perforation and watermark.

There are also some interesting die variations to be found among the sixth Maharaja issues - not all listed by Gibbons, and not all mere flyspecks by any means!

There were further surcharges of these stamps. In fact, Cochin is very much a story of surcharges.


[SG 48, with SG 48a 'Pies' for 'pies' in position 2]

During the immediate pre-War and Second World War period, there was a flood of surcharges. These were certainly quite legitimate, intended to make up new rates and use up obsolete stamps, and there seems to have been no thought given to collectors at all. Every sheet sitting around in filing cabinets was called in and converted - resulting in some very rare surcharges indeed, and unusually for Cochin, stamps that are more expensive used than mint. (Beware forged CDSs!)


[Yes, there is an albino print of ANCHAL in the margin.]

(I should have explained Anchal earlier, but better late than never. At the beginning of this thread, I said that most Indian States stamps were valid only for use within the particular state. However, Cochin and its neighbour Travancore, exchanged mails with each other, under the system known as the Anchal.)

Towards the end of its life, Cochin issued two pleasant pictorials:


A pity they didn't continue.

At the end of its life, Cochin embarked on another round of surcharging obsolete stock:


This also produced some anomalies of stamps rarer used than mint.

Finally, Cochin overprinted all the Maharaja types for official use, with a variety of types of overprint, and these were also applied to the surcharges, which gave rise to wonderful permutations of type, surcharge, watermark, printing method and perforation:


And now, with a great sigh of relief, on to Dhar - a proper Ugly.

Posted: 19 Sep 2008 12:06
by tonymacg
Dhar, now, is a proper Ugly. I've done Dhar in depth elsewhere (, so I'll run through it fairly quickly here.

In its short life, 1897-1901, Dhar produced two sets:


Gibbons sorts them out neatly as I've shown them here, but the truth is a bit more messy. Different values of each set appeared at different times over the 4 years.

There were seven basic settings, and a few subsettings, of the typeset stamps: they can be plated and assigned to settings according to the positions of the little 'spade' ornaments in the four corners. But a mental health warning is in order. This can cause serious derangement ... though I think it's rather fun :roll:

Oh, and another warning: the coloured papers of the typeset stamps fade.

Next to Dungarpur - the phantom Ugly


If this offering of examples looks pretty thin, and tatty with it, Dungarpur lay completely unrecognized for 40 years after it started, and 20 years after it ceased, issuing stamps. Gibbons then took another 10 or 15 years to admit it to the hallowed portals.

Dungarpur is definitely only for those with deep pockets. Mint examples of the first (1933) set are next to unknown, and even the cheapest example of the second (1939) set weighs in at £70 used, and £350 mint ...

Duttia (or more correctly Datia) is rather hot property these days ... and with good reason, too. It's one of the most attractive Uglies.

The earliest issues aren't for the faint-hearted. The cheapest of SG 1 to 7 (SG 7) weighs in at £1300, and the most expensive at a nice round £27,000. Forgeries of Types 2 and 3 turn up regularly on eBay:


[Type 3 forgeries]

at prices that suggest either that the vendors know perfectly well what they're selling ... or that they think they've hit the jackpot (like our first brushes with the Buenos Aires). Fortunately, they're pretty crappy efforts, as a comparison with the illustrations in Gibbons will show.

I find all the stamps of Duttia very attractive:


and once you get past SG 1 to 7, they begin to be a bit more accessible, to quite accessible. They all show the blue (occasionally black) control mark: that is not a cancellation. This is a cancellation:


[Actually, a poor copy of SG 22]

And I should finally mention this classic Ugly:


This is a postal-fiscal. Gibbons doesn't mention it, but Scott does list it. It seems to have been used occasionally for postage around the end of the First World War. Do not pay fancy prices for copies with pen cancels like this one - and certainly never attempt to soak it off paper!

Posted: 19 Sep 2008 17:52
by tonymacg
A footnote to Bamra:

Here is an example of a sheet of a sheet of the ¼ Anna, SG 9 and 26, showing the upper and lower case P in 'Postage', and the different sizes and positions of the central ornament, which help to determine the individual settings. (This, for what it's worth, is Setting IIId).


Posted: 19 Sep 2008 18:27
by crosscrescent

You should write a book with full illustrations like that.
Would add to the literature and enrich the philatelic world of these beauties.



Posted: 19 Sep 2008 18:32
by tonymacg
Andrew, I'd love to - but it would have to be about the size of the Gibbons Simplified :wink:


Posted: 19 Sep 2008 18:36
by crosscrescent

That's something. But seriously, some kind of simplified one perhaps?


Posted: 19 Sep 2008 18:43
by tonymacg
This thread will have to be it, I'm afraid. After all, Stampboards already reaches virtually all the intelligent and discriminating collectors in the world, doesn't it? 8)

Posted: 20 Sep 2008 01:18
by vinobub
On the Cochin, I thought it may be worth mentioning for those who enjoy some extra "depth" (and have deep pockets) that in addition to the varieties Tony mentioned, there are also a few "double print" and "imperf between" errors on the earlies (pre-portait) - entirely legitimate printing errors, and (if you really like a challenge) can even be found postally used. Also, in case there are actually some readers of this board who are not fluent in Malayalam :lol: it is worth mentioning that "Anchal" simply means "Post" (as in Cochin Post). Travancore also is a Malayalam-speaking area, hence the same wording. The Hindi equivalent used across most of Northern India (the other uglies so beloved of Tony) is "Dak" (spelling variant/ English mispronunciation = "Dawk" as in "Scinde Dawk")

Posted: 20 Sep 2008 10:06
by tonymacg
Cochin also offers some nice tete-beche and stamp sideways errors, and variations of surcharge errors caused by the errant cliches, but they are for the collector with pretty deep pockets. (Just about the cheapest example was on offer in the Gibbons Postbid auction that closed on the 18 September. I had a bid in on it - in the unlikely event I get it, I'll add it to the thread.)

As far as I know, all these tete-beche and imperf between errors were perfectly legitimate errors that escaped into the outside world; their prices show they aren't at all common. There are also a few stamps that fall into the shadow lands between printer's waste and legitimate, like this


which is mentioned in the footnote in Gibbons Part 1 after Cochin SG 108, but was never properly released without an On CGS official use overprint as SG O88.

Cochin is a collecting meal in itself. I've known of collectors who were kept so busy by it that they never had time for anything else - something, I have to admit, I couldn't say of Barwani.

Posted: 20 Sep 2008 16:44
by vandemonia
I bow low in awe before the great Maharajah of the Uglies. I do not raise my eyes to look upon his splendid majesty. I am but a worm in his presence. I humbly present my lowly gifts of grateful praise!


Posted: 20 Sep 2008 16:51
by tonymacg
Flattery will get you everywhere with me, John. What do you need?

Posted: 20 Sep 2008 16:54
by vandemonia


Posted: 20 Sep 2008 17:04
by tonymacg
Ah, well now ...

But I have pointed you in the direction of making it. Sink your life savings into Uglies. Can't go wrong - well, you could, I suppose. Just entrust your life savings to me. I will invest them for you, and make you lots of money

[As Major Dennis Bloodnok (Military Coward and Bar) said to Neddy Seagoon, when administering the Regimental Oath of the Third Collapsing Foot, 'Now hold out your wallet, and say after me "Help yourself".']


Posted: 20 Sep 2008 17:13
by vandemonia
..... and as I have pointed out Tony, I'm very seriously considering the first option you present (would you please cease from making the 'Cochin Uglies' appear so appealing!!!!).

As for the second option .... I'll give it all the consideration it deserves :wink:


PS: Seriously .... many thanks for your above exposition on the Indian States. It's fantastic!


Posted: 20 Sep 2008 17:30
by tonymacg
Sorry about the appeal of Cochin, John: I tried as hard as I could to belittle Cochin in favour of Barwani, but obviously not hard enough.

All I can say is, wait: there's more! Cochin's next-door neighbour Travancore, for instance - though at the rate I'm working, it may not arrive until some time next year.

If you want to take Cochin (or any other Ugly, for that matter) a stage beyond the basic Gibbons listing, I can't recommend the India Study Circle ( highly enough. The expert on Cochin (John Trowbridge) is serializing a study of them in the Circle's journal, India Post, at the moment; he deals with the 2 Pies on 3 Pies surcharges of 1909 in the current issue.

Posted: 20 Sep 2008 18:02
by vandemonia

Have just filled in the 'Joining Form' on the ISC website. What am I letting myself in for?!! Know that a large part of the responsibility is yours!!!!



Posted: 20 Sep 2008 18:18
by tonymacg
Well, I do get my commission for inveigling new members into the fold :twisted:

But seriously: I don't think you'll regret it. If they don't volunteer it, ask for a copy of the CD of back issues of India Post. It's absolutely invaluable, and it has a great deal of Cochin material on it.

Posted: 20 Sep 2008 20:50
by vandemonia
vandemonia wrote:Know that a large part of the responsibility is yours!!!!
Tony: The above, of course, was classic 'doublespeak'.

Translation: "If things go terribly wrong and my interest turns into an addiction, and I lose my fortune, my family, friends and dog, I'll hunt you down like a rat in a hole!"

:lol: :lol: :lol:


Posted: 20 Sep 2008 22:59
by tonymacg
You'll be welcome to share the hole on the bank of the Yarra I've been reduced to, John ...

And now to turn to more serious matters, Faridkot is one of the bad boys, like Bussahir, that let the Uglies side down.

Faridkot began in 1879 in classic Uglies style, with two values, handstamped from a single die onto sheets of paper with the spaces for the stamps ruled in pencil:


They used whatever paper came to hand: 'native' laid, ordinary laid, and ordinary wove paper, all in rather nice shades of blue, as in the first two types above.

Then things turned down. Faridkot joined a Postal Convention between British India and five other States. The States were provided with British Indian stamps, overprinted with the names of the individual states, and valid for postage anywhere in the British Indian postal system. The payoff was that the States were to close down their own post offices.

The new dispensation began in 1887, but demand from dealers for the old types continued. Faridkot sold out of the old stamps, then released stamps in the third type above; these had been prepared for use earlier, but never actually put into use.

These sold out, and Faridkot then went to town with imitations of the earlier types, handstamped and lithographed, perf and imperf, and in you-name-your-own colour. They also added a new ½ Anna value, to gain a few more sales. If you see Faridkot stamps offered for sale, the chances are they're these imitations.

For a final, only the Uglies, twist to the tale, there are forgeries of these imitations ...

Next, is Hyderabad - one of the real heavyweights of the Uglies. The heaviest, in fact. And, for the most part, one of the most respectable.


Hyderabad started in 1869 with the 1 Anna olive-green at top right; plates engraved in London, printed at the Hyderabad Mint (a recurring theme in Hyderabad philately). These were followed a year later by the ½ and 2 Anna stamps shown next; the plates for these were made locally, and I'm afraid it shows.

Hyderabad's one lapse from respectability involves these three values: they were reprinted in 1880, but with perf 12½ not 11½, and in different colours.

Hyderabad did try making its own plates again, in 1900, with the ½ Anna blue shown next, but after that, basically gave it all up as a bad show.

In the meantime, in 1871, Bradbury, Wilkinson provided the plates for a long set, from ½ to 12 Annas. These were inscribed 'Post Stamp', with the value shown in four languages, Hindi, Telugu (a South Indian language), Urdu and English, around the centre.

There are some interesting plate flaws in this set, with missing dots and numerals, and parts of the design. If your eyesight is sharp enough, you'll see that the Urdu figure 8, resembling an inverted V, is missing from near the bottom of the central circle in the 3 Anna brown, at the end of the top row: compare it with the ½ Anna stamp next to it.

This was followed by another long set, inscribed Postage, and a few other values and surcharges on them, in smaller formats. All these are found with various gauges of perforation, and compound perfs. Some are rare, but a word of warning: the perfs are usually rough and the stamps are small. One needs great patience ...

The large 1 Rupee yellow was issued in 1927. An insipid colour, and unexciting design, even when you can make it out.

In 1931, Hyderabad released a set of pictorials, with plates by De La Rue, and again printed at the Hyderabad Mint. This set has good possibilities: it's still cheap enough mint (£23 in the 2009 Gibbons) and all values except the 12 Anna red are easy to find used. There's a fine range of shades of the three low values for which several different plates were used, some of which show heavy wear. And you can still pick up covers of the low values for a few dollars each on eBay.

Late in its life, Hyderabad released a few more definitives - the last three on the second last row, and some reworkings of older designs. It also produced several commemoratives: the ½ Anna blue Victory stamp turns up in British Commonwealth Victory omnibus collections.

Hyderabad also overprinted most of its definitives (but none of the commemoratives) for official use. There are three examples on the bottom line. (The large, first, type has been forged and reprinted.)

And here is a little oddity. At Independence, the Nizam (ruler) of Hyderabad, who was a Muslim ruling over a largely Hindu population, wanted to go it alone as an independent kingdom. Whatever the rights and wrongs, the new Indian government intervened and deposed him. From September 1948 to 1950, the old Hyderabad Post Office continued to function, but as an agency of the Indian Post Office.

This cover from Hyderabad to Bombay (Mumbai) would in earlier times have needed Indian stamps to reach its destination, but in 1950 it no longer did so.



If Cochin is a bit too mainstream for you, but some of the others, like Faridkot, are a bit too wacky, then Hyderabad may be just the thing.

Next, another favourite of mine, Idar.

Posted: 21 Sep 2008 08:54
by vandemonia

Many thanks for another very interesting installment.

I was wondering about revenues from the Indian States. Do you have information on these? Where might the revenue collector begin research on the States?

Keep up the very good work!



Posted: 21 Sep 2008 10:26
by tonymacg

The revenue issues of the Indian States is a vastly larger field than the postage issues. Only around 40 of the States issued postage stamps, and many for limited periods, but just about all the 600-odd states issued revenues of various sorts, including Court Fee, Writing Fee and, at Indore (or Holkar), Motor Vehicle Fee stamps:


You can get some pretty spectacular looking frankings, like this from Kishangarh:


However, I don't really collect these (Barwani revenue types aside), so I can't offer much commentary. The standard work is the catalogue by Koeppel & Manners. It appears to have remarkably good coverage, given the size and nature of the task, although the prices it quotes are still rather ambitious in many cases.

Indian uglies

Posted: 23 Sep 2008 07:38
by Happy Stamper
You will be pleased to know that I always give these away to a friend who is just as crazy as you when it concerns the Uglies. He just told me tonight he was getting divorced, probably for the same reason, so be careful Tony :lol:

Happy Stamper

Posted: 23 Sep 2008 10:02
by tonymacg
Happy Stamper, I can set your mind at rest. I've been through two unsympathetic wives, so far, and decided with Rudyard Kipling

"Open the old cigar-box - let me consider anew -
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

Light me another Cuba - I hold to first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggies for Spouse!"

Posted: 23 Sep 2008 16:38
by World Stamper
Thanks for this thread, it is really interesting! Great for someone like me who likes the different alphabets. Good tip on omniglot, that's a useful website for deciphering alphabets. Wikipedia often has really good pages for obscure written languages too.

Posted: 25 Sep 2008 15:27
by tonymacg
First, a thank you to all who have encouraged me with this survey of the Uglies. I can see I'll have to do a more detailed survey of Cochin at some point, but if there are any other States anyone would like to see more of, I'll be happy to oblige - if I can!

Now to Idar. This is an interesting little State, and a particular favourite of mine (though I'd be hard pressed to say precisely why). It offers something for both the simple-lifer and for the serious collector.

The mainstream issues started quite late in Uglies terms, in 1932, with a single Half Anna type; this was re-released in a slightly different version, with the side panels coloured instead of white. This was followed in 1944 by a short set of five values. All stamps were issued in booklets of eight sheets of four stamps.


The prices in Gibbons are quire revealing: the first Half Anna stamps are generally around the Twenty-something pound mark mint, and slightly more or slightly less used. The second set are around £3 to £4 mint ... and £65 to £110 used.

Covers and used of the first Half Annas are fairly available (with covers starting at around £50). Whole booklets of the second issue are quite common, although conditions is usually a problem (rusted staples holding the booklets together, interleaving adhering to the backs of the stamps).

But used of the second issue are a headache, because from the covers in my collection, it appears that the Half Anna stamps were used almost exclusively, in preference to the second issue. The second issue also had a much shorter life: from 21 October 1944 to 10 June 1948.

It's only in relatively recent years that Gibbons has also listed a series of Postal-Fiscals for Idar, SG F1 to F5b:


The earlier postal-fiscals are quite hard to find mint or postally used, and even the later ones are not common.

Used, as with Idar for most of its stamp issuing life, are the real headache, though. Here is a genuinely used example of SG F5 on cover:


This is a typical Idar postmark, manuscript date and all. It is not fiscally used. Very late in the day, you do find a few normal CDSs, but this is how the great majority of Idar stamps were cancelled.

Needless to say, with the price differential between mint and used, one has to beware of forged cancellations.

Posted: 25 Sep 2008 16:01
by tonymacg
Now, Indore, on the other hand, has something of a following - for reasons which escape me. I think it's one of the drearier of the Uglies. (Although politically, Indore was another matter: the second Maharaja below was deposed by the British: ostensibly for being mentally unstable, but also for conducting clandestine discussions with foreign powers.)

Here is a summary of Indore:


The first Half Anna stamps of 1886 are quite common, and are usually in that rather feeble, nondescript mauve shade.

A handstamped provisional (which exists in two types - one scarcer than the other) appeared in 1889. Inevitably, these have been forged. There is also a vaguely similar-looking fiscal which is sometimes offered as the postage stamp.

The second set was nicely recess printed by Waterlow. Most values are found on thick paper, but Gibbons' prices for them are on the distinctly generous side. The Half Anna value was later surcharged in Hindi 'Quarter Anna'.

The third set appeared in 1904, and showed the new, more acceptable, Maharaja. He agreed, in 1908, to close the State Post Office to the general public, and confine it to carrying State government mail. The set was overprinted SERVICE for that purpose.

The fourth set, for yet another ruler, appeared in 1927. Like the third, it was recess printed by Perkins, Bacon, and it is the most interesting of a tedious lot. Like the contemporary Perkins, Bacon printings for Cochin, several different perforaters were used, all gauging around 14. As with Cochin again, Gibbons doesn't list these separately, although it does show which machines have been recorded. Used are generally easy to come by, so if you're an Instanta fan, there's plenty to do here.

There were also (as far as I know) unexplained colour changes to some values, and some values were specifically ordered to be supplied imperf at certain times. Finally, there is an imperf plate proof of the One Rupee stamp (shown), which was also used for postage - although it's very rare in that state.

Surplus supplies of the 1¼ Anna, 2 Rupee and 5 Rupee were surcharged with new, lower values. They are not particularly common mint, although quite easy used.

Finally, in 1940, a last set was released, printed by the Times of India Press in Bombay: inoffensive, but nothing to set the heart racing.

And so on to lovely Jaipur ...

Posted: 25 Sep 2008 17:48
by tonymacg
It would be a hard heart that wasn't taken by winsome Jaipur. With the possible exception of the 1911 Jail Press stamps, which I've discussed elsewhere (, Jaipur rarely put a foot wrong.

The first designs of Jaipur all showed the chariot of Surya, the Sun God. Even the 1904 Ugly first issue is really quite attractive, once you let it grow on you:


Most of the Indian State Post Offices seem to have been opened by reforming rulers, trying to bring better services to their subjects. Jaipur may have been an exception. In 1904, the Maharaja was on rather prickly terms with the British: I suspect that he decided to issue stamps as a small gesture of defiance. For whatever the reason, he also ordered stamps in a similar design from Perkins, Bacon:


These appeared progressively over 1904 to 1908, at first perf 12, 12½ or compound (generally quite scarce) and later perf 13½.

In 1911, independence reasserted itself, and Jaipur printed a set of the four lower values at the State press, which was in the Jaipur Jail at the time:


I've discussed these in more detail at the address above. The lower values exhibit more errors than you could shake a stick at. They're still quite cheap, too, as are sheets (of 6), and make a nice little display.

This was then followed, in 1912, by a set letterpress printed at the State Press of the same designs and values as the Perkins, Bacon stamps:


Eagle-eyed readers will note that the two high values, the 8 Anna and 1 Rupee, are overprinted SERVICE. While the whole set was overprinted, the 8 Anna value was only issued in this form (Gibbons delisted it without the overprint in the latest Part 1) and the 1 Rupee is a howling rarity unoverprinted. The Jaipur authorities seem (like John Ash in Australia) to have selected the very worst copies of this set for overprinting for government use: it's very rare to find a nice SERVICE overprint. (And believe me, the unoverprinted copies here are quite reasonable for this set :wink: )

Posted: 25 Sep 2008 18:11
by tonymacg
A new Maharaja came to the Jaipur throne, as a minor, in 1922; his inauguration with full powers was commemorated in 1931 with a long set, printed at the Indian Government printing press. This resembled so many other British Commonwealth sets that appeared during those Depression years: very attractive, but long, and with expensive top values. I'd love to be able to show the full set, but I haven't yet managed it.


It's nice to see the Surya design repeated on the ¼ Anna stamp (for the postcard rate). Don't be tempted by offers of inexpensive used copies of the high values. There are far more forged cancellations around than genuine.

The 4 Anna of the set I have shown is the SERVICE overprint, for government use. Gibbons rates the used of this stamp as more expensive than the unoverprinted stamp. It's a mystery to me why - unless it's because I have all the copies in my collection.

The type of the ½ Anna value was then used for two sets, one inscribed 'Postage' and one 'Postage and Revenue', which were the mainstay of Jaipur for the following 16 years. They were also overprinted SERVICE for government use.


Various surcharges were made over the years, including onto the 5 Rupee top value of the 1931 Inauguration set:


(Stamp 2 of the block shows the error 'PIE' for 'PIES'. Given its position on the sheet, a fair few have survived.)

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


Lovely stamps, beautifully recess printed by De La Rue - but sadly, dirt common. Any mixed lot of Jaipur is likely to contain these stamps.

A few words about the Service overprints. There were a couple of surcharges that were only made on the Service stamps, but they shouldn't cause any problems. Also, some values are remarkably elusive mint: as always with the Uglies, exercise great caution in buying such stamps.

Next, the Ultimate Uglies, Jammu & Kashmir

Posted: 26 Sep 2008 11:33
by Eric Casagrande
Well it's official ... I'm an Ugly collector. (LOL) :lol: :lol: :lol:

I purchased an SG India catalogue from a UK vendor; and now am arranging to make payment with Geoffrey Flack for the Dhar SG1 - SG6 stamps, in mint lightly hinged condition.

Now all I have to learn is how to read that Indian writing script.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:


"So bang the drum slowly ... and play the fife lowly."

Posted: 26 Sep 2008 11:51
by tonymacg
Eric, welcome aboard ... to a lifetime of hair tearing and teeth gnashing :twisted:

Gibbons have made a few additions and deletions to the Uglies listings since the India book was published, but for the most part, they're not likely to trouble you. (They haven't touched Dhar for years.) As a very rough guide, they've been lifting the average prices for States material by about 5% a year over the last few years, so that may help in getting a handle on current price levels.

And as to the scripts, well, a bit of perseverance and practice will work wonders - trust me!

Finally, ask as many questions as you need to. That way, we both learn.


Posted: 26 Sep 2008 12:13
by Eric Casagrande
Tony ... a question if I might ....

I see by the ISC website that the annual membership fee would be $30 USD for my area ... but do you have any idea what the extra fee amounts to, for subscribing to The Handbook of Indian Philately?

Posted: 26 Sep 2008 12:29
by tonymacg

AFAIK, nothing much is happening with it at the moment, but past instalments may be available. All I can suggest, I'm afraid, is to contact the North American coordinator.


Banging the drum for the Uglies

Posted: 26 Sep 2008 12:35
by jumet
Eric: Welcome to the Wonderful, Wierd, World of the Uglies! I think you will really enjoy the experience of building a collection and I assure you you will never bored again! Don't worry about the writing, you learn rather quickly after looking at a few hundred stamps. Some States are easier than others, and you've picked a great one to start.

Posted: 26 Sep 2008 12:43
by vandemonia

That's two of us that Tony has inveigled into the magic circle! Perhaps he should get a percentage of our subs!



Posted: 26 Sep 2008 12:47
by tonymacg
vandemonia wrote:Eric

That's two of us that Tony has inveigled into the magic circle! Perhaps he should get a percentage of our subs!


No need for the percentage - my Dark Side strength grows with each new soul I capture ...

Posted: 26 Sep 2008 16:26
by vandemonia

I had imagined you as more of the Hans Solo type! But I sort of expected that collecting the Uglies had something to do with the Dark Side (or at least would lead you down the Dark Path to ruination and regret!).

Pai's book "Cochin Postmarks and Cancellations" arrived from India (New Delhi) today. It's in mint condition! So I have some interesting reading ahead of me.



Posted: 26 Sep 2008 16:33
by tonymacg
John, wait til you see the Jammu & Kashmir thingy I'm working on scanning at the moment. Women faint and strong men weep at the mere thought of Jammu & Kashmir philately ...