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Archived article from the April 2001 [vol2,no2] issue of Princely States Report

Nagercoil District Overprints
- collection and original data by Dick Nelson
- summarized by Ron Rice

In the years just after Independence, many fiscal stamps (and a handful of postage stamps) from the princely states and British India were overprinted for use in the Republic of India. See David Heppell's Catalogue of Rajasthan Fiscal Overprints in this issue of PSR for a detailed example of this sort of study. There are also many cases where small districts moved from one state jurisdiction to another. These small changes in political boundaries provide wonderful specialized studies for the philatelist. There are certainly many as-yet-undocumented cases of "states overprinted on states" in the decade following Independence.

Nagercoil, a small district in the United State of Travancore-Cochin, came under the jurisdiction of the State of Madras in 1956. As is often the case during times of political change, stamps left over in the treasury were overprinted for use in Madras. To complicate matters, Travancore-Cochin had only been in existence since 1949 and was still using up stamps of independent Travancore that had been overprinted for use in Travancore-Cochin. Thus, a nice variety of Travancore and Travancore-Cochin fiscal stamps (primarily court fees) were overprinted "State of Madras" and used in the Nagercoil District between 1956 and 1959.

The stamps in this article are grouped by the underlying Travancore and/or Travancore-Cochin stamps. Numbers beginning with "KM" are from Koeppel and Manners The Court Fee and Revenue Stamps of the Princely States of India, Volume 1: The Adhesives, Fiscal Philatelic Foundation, 1983. Numbers beginning the "ND", for Nagercoil District, are not published catalogue numbers; they're used to identify the stamps in this collection only.

The Madras Overprints

The general subject of Madras overprints awaits detailed study. Four overprints pictured at left occur on Travancore and Travancore-Cochin adhesives used in the Nagercoil District. The first two overprints are handstamped in violet, and the last two are typographed in black. The last overprint, "STATE OF / MADRAS" (two lines), occurs in three settings as follows:

    1st setting. The "M" of "MADRAS" is almost directly under the "S" of "STATE".
    2nd setting. The "M" of "MADRAS" is centered under "ST" of "STATE".
    3rd setting. The "M" of "MADRAS" is under the "T" of "STATE".

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