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Archived article from the October 2000 issue of Princely States Report

Morley's Philatelic Journal, subtitled "A Monthly Paper for Collectors of Postage, Revenue, Telegraph and Railway Stamps", first appeared in January of 1900 under the editorial leadership of A. Preston Pearce and published by Walter Morley of England. The article presented here appeared in May and was continued in June of that year. The full bibliographic reference is as follows:

Lane, J.H. "Notes on the Telegraph Stamps of Kashmir." Morley's Philatelic Journal, Vol. 1 No. 5 (May, 1900) Page 34.

------. "Notes..." cont'd. Morley's Philatelic Journal, Vol. 1 No. 6 (June, 1900) Page 43.

This piece of writing represents a very early attempt at making sense of Kashmir's telegraph issues. We would like to hear from collectors who have studied these issues and can share their knowledge of articles and catalogs that have appeared in the century since Lane's article. Send any information to editor@princelystates.com.

Notes on the Telegraph Stamps of Kashmir
- J.H. Lane

In the hopes of eliciting from more fully informed Philatelists a complete history and description of the Telegraph Stamps of Kashmir, I have consented to put together a few notes which are based on my own observation only, and which may or may not be correct.

The labels for use within the private telegrams were printed in colours, and are classified in Morley's Catalogue as follows: [ see figures 1 to 9 at left ]

The stamps for official telegrams (printed in black) are given as existing in all the above-mentioned values. As regards the former, the classification is undoubtedly correct, as may also possibly be that of the official stamps, but these latter I have only seen in six values, viz: 1, 2 and 4 annas, and 1, 2 and 5 rupees. I am doubtful whether the 10 and 25 rupee values, in black for the use of officials, were ever printed or used. It was only for costly telegrams to countries beyond Indian limits that high value stamps were requisite, and such telegrams were only sent by European residents in, and visitors to Kashmir. The issue of the 8 anna stamp in black seems also open to doubt.

It appears to be generally thought that each sheet of these stamps was printed at one operation from a lithographic stone, but this was evidently not the case. A close examination of labels of any one value will show that they all coincide to an extent that it would be impossible had they been separately drawn for transfer to the stone. This close resemblance is noticeable throughout the design, but is most clearly shown in the breaks and faults in the line of the outer frame: pairs or blocks strikingly evidence this fact. From this it may be inferred that a single die was prepared for each value, and that each label was printed separately by hand on the sheet: the die was probably of brass, as I have seen it stated that the postage stamps of Kashmir were printed from brass seals.

As regards the coloured stamps, the shades are very numerous and probably no two printings coincide. I have seen the 1 anna stamp in light and dark green, yellow-green and emerald green, the 2 anna in brown, stone and buff, and so on. Similarly the varieties of paper used were very extensive--laid and wove of various thicknesses and tints. Any suitable paper in stock, or purchasable in the bazaar, at the time required, appears to have been used, and I believe it would be difficuly, if not impossible, to make up a complete set on any one kind of paper.

I am inclined to think that the first issue of these stamps must have comprised only the 1, 2 and 4 anna and the 1 rupee values, but although these four values may be considered as practically one issue, there are signs in the drawing of the 2 anna stamp that it was executed by a different draughtsman or at a different time: e.g., the 'a' in 'annas' in the Persian inscription is slanting in the 1 and 4 anna values and almost upright in that of the 2 anna.

At a later period, owing to tariff modifications, the want probably showed itself for the 8 anna and 2 rupee values, and later still for those of 5, 10 and 25 rupees. This surmise of mine, as to the first issue having been confined to the 1, 2 and 4 anna and 1 rupee stamps, is based principally on the striking superiority of the execution of the design (especially of the native inscriptions) in these four values. That of the 8 anna and 2 rupee stamps is inferior, and in those of 5, 10 and 25 rupees there is not only a further falling off but they do not exhibit the two dots under the final Persian character (reading from right to left), which are, correctly, shown in the 2 rupee stamps. In fact, the marked differences in these three phases of the design appear to indicate three different engravers and three distinct issues.

In no one of these Telegraph Stamps of Kashmir, with one exception, have I detected more than one die; (the same dies were used for both the black and coloured stamps) the exception is in the case of the 1 rupee red, of which I have recently seen some stamps differing so considerably from the original lot that I cannot but think they must be forgeries. If so, they must have been intended for defrauding the Telegraph revenues of the Kashmir Government, as there has hitherto been no sufficient inducement to perpetrate forgeries of telegraph stamps for sale to collectors. [ see figures 10 and 11 at left ]

The stamps which I suggest to be forged are very roughly drawn, the colour is crude and the printing exceptionally smudgy, the shield is too narrow (under 8 millimetres as compared with 8½ in the original issue), and the three dots in the right hand inner line of (Persian) inscription are not under the letter to which they belong. The most clumsy detail of imitation in these stamps is, however, in respect of the outer lines of characters. In the original 1 rupee stamps these Nagri characters are clear and easily legible by an expert, whereas in those supposed to be forged there is scarcely an attempt at imitation, the lines of unmeaning strokes and dots do not disclose a single correctly formed character, and the three indispensible signs projecting above the letters in each line are altogether omitted.

It is, of course, possible that the 1 rupee die was supplemented by a second one or replaced by a new one, and that the progressive deterioration in the execution of the design, which I have already alluded to, culminated in the issue of the exceptionally defective production under notice. In favor of this view is the fact that one rupee was the minimum charge for an ordinary telegram in or from Kashmir, and that stamps of this denomination were accordingly more largely used than the other values. On the other hand, it appears improbable that the Kashmir Officials would have passed for issue a stamp so obviously faulty as regards, what should have been, the inscription in Nagri characters.

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