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So Who's Afraid Of The Indian States?

 
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Posted 04/01/2010   12:54 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add tonymacg to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Having tried to arouse interest in the Indian States (once known disparagingly as The Uglies) elsewhere, and having been howled down, I thought I'd try it again here. Might have better luck second time around

North American and other readers using Scott: Scott is as useful as mammary glands on a bull where the Indian States are concerned. It's Gibbons or nothing, I'm afraid. Do not ask for Scott, as refusal may offend.

To set the scene a little - skip this if you have a short attention span or already know it - when the British ruled India, they left the local rulers (the Maharajas etc) largely in control of their own States. Provided the rulers weren't too incompetent, and as long as they didn't try to talk to foreign powers (like the Russians), the rulers were allowed a fair bit of leeway. This included operating their own postal systems.

At Indian independence in 1947, there were something over 550 States. They ranged in size from Hyderabad, with a population of around 20 million, to petty kingdoms of one or two villages. Virtually all the States maintained postal systems, for the carriage of government mail. Something over 40 of the States opened their postal systems to the public at one time or another and issued stamps. These State mails in most cases operated only within the borders of the State. Mail going outside the State either had to be handed in to the nearest Imperial Post Office, or would have State stamps applied to carry the letter to the next Imperial Post Office.

Here is an example of the latter: a Bundi State stamp (SG 54a) cancelled locally, attached to a British Indian 9 pies postal stationery card, cancelled at the capital Bundi, and passed on through the Imperial mail system to the small town of Bhawaniganj, outside Bundi in modern day Madhya Pradesh:



Fakes, reprints etc: Unfortunately, there are plenty of these around. Fortunately, the commonest variety of fakes all seem to come from the same source. They're pretty easy to pick, once you compare them with the real things I'll be showing here. They seem to have been made by photocopier on a rather inexpensive variety of slightly yellowish-looking paper, and the impressions look all wrong. If you're in any doubt about an Indian States stamp you have, post it here, and I'll try to sort it out for you.

Now on to the individual States …

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Posted 04/01/2010   01:00 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spock1k to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
tony you cant build intrest by talking about food you have to give people a chance to taste it so it is with stamps.

i suggest you make some mnh packets all different and start doling them out

to me of course and then my interest will be right up there and you will have converted the only indian collector on the forum :)
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Posted 04/01/2010   01:08 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Alwar was a moderate-sized State in what is now Rajasthan, near Jaipur. It issued stamps from 1877 until 1902.

The first two stamps



and a companion 1 Anna in brown



are deceptively simple-looking little things. These were lithographed, from several different stones, and can be specialized to the nth degree. The postmarks on them are also an interesting study in themselves - the purple one on the 1 Anna is an unusual type and colour.

These were followed around the beginning of the 20th century by a new design



Congratulations if you have the wide stamp in green: it's SG 4, and the only serious rarity (perforation errors aside) from Alwar.

The India Study Circle has published a Handbook of Alwar, which will take you about as deep as most would want to go. The Handbook is long out of print, but you may be able to find a copy online.

Incidentally, if these, or any other Indian State, or the Indian area in general, interest you, you really should join the India Study Circle. It's so nice to be among other people who don't think you're a raving lunatic
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Posted 04/01/2010   01:25 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Bahawalpur We've probably all had something from Bahawalpur at some stage, if we're of a certain age. These may jog the memory:



From the Nawab's Silver Jubilee commemorative, SG 41, and from the UPU commemoratives of 1949, SG 43



When I was a lad, these things used to turn up all the time, along with the CTO Eastern Bloc and Chinese inflation stamps.

No doubt about it, Bahawalpur were the best designed and best printed of all the Indian States (though as Bahawalpur is now part of Pakistan, I suppose it's strictly a Pakistani State). The ruler, the Nawab, was a philatelist, and had his stamps done by De La Rue in London, no expense spared. However, according to legend - and I can't vouch for its accuracy - the Nawab was also a keen follower of the Sport of Kings. It is said that, when his bookie became a little pressing, the Nawab would order De La Rue to run off a few more sheets of whatever was handy.

This set is also beautifully printed, finely designed, and worth almost nothing



SG 20-27
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Posted 04/01/2010   02:15 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Bamra is a bit of a contrast to Bahawalpur. Well, to be truthful, a stark contrast to Bahawalpur. It is one of the Indian States that gave rise to the sobriquet, the Uglies.

The first stamps of Bamra, from 1888, were pretty utilitarian



SG 1

These are scarce and were also extensively reprinted. If you have a stamp like this, it's probably a reprint. If in doubt, post a scan at the highest resolution you can manage, and we'll see what we can do.

The second, and last, issue from Bamra wasn't much more decorative



but it's another for the specialists. Because it was type-set, in sheets of 16, just about every stamp, from every value, from all nine settings, can be plated. There are also some good spelling errors, like in the block above, which shows from top left to bottom right
'QUATRER' (SG 8b), a completely correct SG 8, an inverted E in 'POSTAGE' (SG 8c) and an 'EEUDATORY' (SG 8a).

These stamps are still reasonably easy to find, as Indian States stamps go, and not dirt cheap, but pretty affordable all the same.

The India Study Circle has also published a Handbook on Bamra. Essential reading if you want to do Bamra properly.
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Posted 04/01/2010   02:27 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
ony you cant build intrest by talking about food you have to give people a chance to taste it so it is with stamps.

i suggest you make some mnh packets all different and start doling them out

to me of course and then my interest will be right up there and you will have converted the only indian collector on the forum :)


Come on now, Spock, your MUH sheet of Jammu & Kashmir is somewhere over Perth, even as we speak. (Though the Jammu & Kashmir never did have gum. You can send them back if you're dissatisfied.)
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Posted 04/01/2010   02:35 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spock1k to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
you have totally lost it. I am never sending those back. :) never in a million years. but those stamps will only create a taste for the kashmiri stamps what about the other 549 states :) its lke cusine just because you have strawberry icecream you cant say what choclate will taste like. :)
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Posted 04/01/2010   02:37 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spock1k to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
i forgot to telly ou ever since you koined I am not trolling the forum by myself at night shouting india india ( you are doing that) so its a relief I thought I would go crazy :)
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Posted 04/01/2010   04:44 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Now, I'm willing to admit to large gaps in my knowledge of many of the Indian States, but on Barwani I think I'm pretty near the full bottle.

Barwani is one of those orphan States: not large or important enough to attract a home crowd, and not old enough to to be a Classic. It sat there in the middle of India, on the way to nowhere in particular, quietly going about its business. Noone knows for certain when it first issued stamps, and noone knows for certain which was its first stamp. This is the most likely candidate, and it probably appeared in 1917



This is still unrecognized by the catalogues, as is what was probably the second issue, of some time between 1917 and 1921:



(I've written about these two stamps for the India Study Circle journal. Email me if you'd like a copy.)

In 1921, Barwani issued the first catalogued ¼ Anna, which reappeared in various colours over the next nine years, and its first ½ Anna stamp, which was soon changed from blue to green



(SG 2)

The following year, a 1 Anna and 2 Anna appeared



(SG 10 and 11)

And in 1927, a high value, the 4 Anna, which covered the registered letter rate:



(One of my treasures: a sheet of the first 4 Anna, imperf between, SG 22a)
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Posted 04/01/2010   05:24 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
The old ruler died in 1930 and was succeeded by his infant son. The Barwani authorities then took a most unfortunate decision. They decided to have their stamps printed 'properly' by The times of India Press in Bombay.

In due course, in 1932, a rather dim set of five stamps appeared with the boy ruler Rana Devi Singh





SG 32A-36A

The only good thing to be said for them is that they come in nine settings, distinguished by size and shade ... (These are all from Setting 1.)

The following year, the plates for the old ruler were cleaned up, and the stamps were reissued alongside those of his son. The idea seems to have been to milk the gullible collector - but either Barwani doubted its pulling power, or showed remarkable restraint. The full set had a face value of 7¾ annas, or about 6d Sterling at the time.

Something rather odd happened in 1938. Barwani issued its 1 Anna letter rate stamp, in the design used for its revenue 1 Anna:



SG 43, the red revenue stamp, and the normal 1 Anna stamp

If we were to believe Gibbons, this is quite a scarce stamp. Not so! It had, for Barwani, a sizable 8,000 print run.

There's a great deal more to Barwani than this quick run through can show ... a great deal more. Some day, I might really let my hair down, and go into the details
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Posted 04/01/2010   05:26 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add spock1k to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
nice very nice

you might as well start addressing these to dear spock though :)

the first stamp is a very bad copy looks like a nus ticket that didnt print right. by 21 they had thins moving int he right direction though

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Posted 04/01/2010   05:47 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
All the first issue of Barwani look like that, I'm afraid. I'm also afraid they're not known mint - unhinged or otherwise. Nor is the second lot.
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Posted 04/01/2010   07:49 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Dianne Earl to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Great thread tonymacg

And you just solved one of my mysteries. I didn't realize tha Bahawalpur was an Indian state. Now I can put them in their proper home.

Dianne
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Posted 04/01/2010   08:07 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Delighted to have been of assistance, Dianne. I suppose, if you were to be really, really picky, you could say Bahawalpur started its philatelic life as an Indian State in 1945, from the 15 August to 3 October 1947 it was an independent kingdom, and from 4 October to 1953 it was a Pakistani State. Which all gets a bit confusing, and I think of it as an Indian State.
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Posted 04/01/2010   08:10 am  Show Profile Check jubilee's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add jubilee to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Tony, as usual

I'm so glad that most of these weren't issued in KGV-time, as I'd have to collect the damn things! Except Barwani, of course, which seems to cover my King's time rather well
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Posted 04/01/2010   08:38 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well, Jubilee, you might as well forget about Barwani anyway, because I own them all already

But there's Bhopal to come next - pretty thin, dull stuff for your period - and later on Bundi. And for you, Bundi has to mean the Sacred Cows ... Some collectors devote their entire collective lives to trying to complete the Cows ...
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