Hello All, I've come across six older covers which I first thought they came from one of the Feudal States of India and you probably can see why. I couldn't find the stamps in Scott's under India, but then turned to Afganistan and there they were. However, I cannot read the language and not quite sure about color shades and printing types. I'll show the front and backs of each cover.
I presume this is Scott 177 - 1ab slate blue, c. 1890's. Is the stain around the stamp related to some sort of postmark? It does seem to have a pattern. Can anyone read where it came from and where it was going?
Same questions apply for #2-#6 Again - can the origin and destinations be indentified? Also these types are more confusing to me because of the paper types - Batonne Paper? and can one tell the difference between laid, wove and ribbed papers when the stamp is on cover? Also these stamps were handstamped in watercolor. Am I to presume color shades are all over the place or can they truly be indentified? Thanks! Will
While I don't read Arabic, there is a collector on Stampboards.com who volunteers to do Arabic translations. (Do a search for user Naggom.)
Your first cover is indeed Scott 177, the 1 Abasi. I like the inverted date in the design of these stamps (Arab Year 1309 printed purposely upside down as only Allah is perfect). The stamp is cancelled with what is termed an SV cancel. These cancels can be manuscript as well as handstamped. Assuming that the color of the cancel isn't a changeling, the reddish orange color indicates the stamp was cancelled in Peshawar. Here is the basic design of an SV cancel:
On your remaining covers (all 1 Abasi, I believe), the pen cancels can be one, two or three lines, sometimes in combination with the SV cancel or a cut-out. My understanding is there is no rhyme or reason to the number of lines so these can't be used to determine where the stamps were cancelled.
I can't help with the paper types. Some sources believe that a number of the colors (of the design and/or paper) were produced for collectors, even if they are found on cover (some of which are forged).
Your post has reminded me how little I know about 19th century Afghanistan stamps, so I'm going to order a couple of books from the APS and see if I can learn more. Thanks for posting these covers.
1840to1940 & tonymacg: Thanks for the information! I wouldn't have been able to ascertain any of this information on my own. I hope they are not forged, but I know it's possible. They all came from the same dealer who has the typical mixed wares of this and that. I don't even think he knew where they came from and I wasn't even certain myself at first. I actually have four other covers that were used in the early 1900's as well. Each of those have an additional stamp from India (or what today is Pakistan) affixed along with one from Afghanistan. I still have to scan them. Will
I've checked my references, and I can't find any reference to forgeries of your first cover. This doesn't mean it's genuine, of course. The cancelling notch should properly have been over the word 'mahsul' ('paid') which I think falls in the top line, and not on the side where your example shows it. However, if the PO clerk was illiterate or careless, it could come anywhere.
From a quickish comparison with five recorded types of forgeries of your other covers, my very tentative conclusions on the stamps are: Covers 1, 2 and 4 all OK, and Die I Cover 3 OK and Die II Covers 5 and 6: Stamps appear to be fakes, so of course, the covers would also be fakes.
Later covers with added Indian postage are quite normal and not uncommon. Indian postage was required for onward transmission from Afghanistan until Afghanistan joined the UPU in 1928.
tomymacg: Thanks again for the help. What reference did you use for research? What are the signs/markers for these covers to tell that they are or might be fakes? Is there any significance to the red marks on covers #5 & #6?
Also, what does SV stand for in 1840to1940's post?
Battlestamps, I think it's the stamps on covers 5 and 6 that are fakes. It then follows that the covers must be fakes, if the stamps are fakes. However, early Afghanistan isn't my specialty. I'll be happy to be corrected by someone who does know what they're talking about.
The reference I used was Afghanistan Revisited - Postal Stationery - Revenues - Forgeries by Wilkins and Divall.
Incidentally, elsewhere the cancellation on your first cover is called a 'batila'. There is also a 'rusty red' version which was used at Kabul.
tonymacg: Thanks for the information and reference. That book is availble at the APS library so I'll have to check it out.
I think I used the wrong words. I should have said what are the signs/markers on the stamps that indicate they are fakes? I can take them back to the dealer I got them so that's no problem, but it would be good if I can tell him why I think they are fakes.
I also emailed Robert Jack who is an Afganistan specialist and gave him the link to this thread. I hope he visits and lends his view on these covers too.
These are some of the trickiest covers I've dealt with in awhile. My German covers are a cakewalk compared to these.
It's also interesting that the color of the postmark can be used to indicate the town.
New update: I received a response from Robert Jack:
Some interesting covers! There are fakes around, but to be honest not that many. They are mainly of the 1310 rectangulars, and the registration stamps (the registration stamps should never be on cover anyway).
The first of your covers (1309) has the distinctive orange red batila cancel of Peshawar and is addressed to Kabul. (As an aside, Peshawar was actually in India at that time (Pakistan now), but as Afghanistan didn't join the UPU until 1928, the Indian authorities allowed an "extra-territorial" Afghan post office to operate there so that mail could go back and forth to Afghanistan. Any mail from Afghanistan destined beyond Peshawar had to have Indian stamps affixed as well.) The next five are all the Abdur Rahman circulars. As stamps, this series is probably the most forged of any Afghan stamps, but forged covers, although they must be easy to produce when you only have a pen cancel to fake, are not too bad a problem. There are so many forgeries of the stamps it is easier to get a definite genuine and compare (they are not expensive). There are only two dies of the 1 abasi and one each of the 2 abasi and rupee values. But, they are watercolours and usually pretty badly printed so it is not always that simple! I've attached a couple of pages from one of my books which deals with the 19th century issues and which describes the genuine types. It's not something which can really be done with certainty from a scan but hopefully the descriptions in the book will be enough for you to determine whether the stamps are "right". From where I'm sitting, these look OK. My first glance is always at the "dots" (which are more like rectangles). If they are not touching each other, nor the sides of the circles, then the stamp is probably OK, though you still need to check the other points. Forgeries almost always have dots joining together or touching the sides all over the place. Stamps on coloured papers are the most likely to be forged (a very high percentage). Your #4 looks as if it could be on yellowish paper, but it looks OK. #3, #5, and #6 all look like Die II (the wider outer circle - not sure if Scott lists that?). As to shades, yes, they are all over the place and myself I only try to classify them in very general groups. #2, 3, 4 and 5 are all addressed to Kabul. #6 I'm not sure of the address.
Anyway, hope that helps,
He also suggested I share a couple of pages from his book about these stamp issues as well. I have them as a doc file and can convert it to a pdf. What would be the best way to display or link something like that?