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Archived article from the January 2001 issue of Princely States Report

This piece, based on notes supplied by C. L. Pigott, was published in the February 1897 issue of The Philatelic Journal of India. It is uncertain whether the piece was authored by the journal's editor or someone else. The article, plus a short follow-up from the March 1897 issue, is reproduced here in its entirety. This may be the first account in the philatelic literature of Duttia's stamps and postal stationery.

The Duttia State Post

Duttia is a State comprising various portions of territory scattered about over Bundelkhund, the main portion being directly north of Jhansi. Its total area is 912½ sq. miles and its population 186,440. But these figures give no idea of the actual distances from one part of the State to another, owing to its territory being so broken up. The Maharaja holds a high position among the feudatory chiefs of India, and is entitled to a salute of 15 guns. It appears that this State has had a post and postage stamps of its own since 1893. It has one Head Office and nine Branch offices. Each Branch office renders daily accounts to the Head Office, and the Head Office renders a monthly account to the State Treasury. The Postmaster of Duttia (State) Office is head of the postal administration, subject to inspection at irregular intervals by one of the higher Durbar officials.




The State Post deals with paid and unpaid letters, post-cards, packets, registered articles, and parcels. Official articles are carried free, but postage stamps, stamped envelopes and post-cards are available for private correspondence. The greater part of the contents of the mails consists, of course, of official correspondence. The rates of postage are said to be the same as those prevailing in British India, though there appears to be a quarter anna rate for certain articles besides post-cards.

The stamps are printed at a private press, and an ingenious device is resorted to in order to prevent forgery. No stamp, envelope, or post-card is available for prepayment of postage till it bears the impression of the Maharaja's seal. Till this is added the stamp is worthless. When it is added, the stamp is available for prepayment of postage up to the value indicated on it.

Mr. Pigott reports that he had great difficulty in securing any of the State postage stamps or in eliciting any information on the subject. It certainly is curious that any stamps should have been in existence for four years unknown to philatelists.

It now remains to describe the stamps and postal stationery of the State. It seems probable that the present design is not the original one, as one value (1 anna) of the stamps supplied by Mr. Pigott is of a somewhat different and more primitive nature.

It consists of a type-set rectangle, 25 millimetres high and 20 millimetres broad. It has the figure of the God Ganesh in the middle. On the left hand side reading upwards is the word "DUTTIA," on the top, "STATE," on the right hand side reading downwards "POSTAGE," and at the bottom the Hindi form of "One Anna." The whole design is enclosed in a single-lined frame. This design may he called A (Fig. 1.). The other design consists also of a type-set rectangle measuring 25 millimetres high and 21 millimetres wide. It also contains a figure of the God Ganesh in the centre with the value in Hindi lettering at the bottom, but bears no indication of the name of the State. The whole is framed in an ornamental frame of trefoils. This design may be called B. Both designs are printed in a hand press one at a time in horizontal strips of eight in the case of design B (Fig. 2), and of six in the case of design A.




The values which we have seen are:
  • ¼ anna, design B. Black on orange-red thin wove paper.
  • ½ anna, design B. Black on light blue-green thin wove paper.
  • 1 anna, design A. Red on white wove paper.
  • 2 annas, design B. Black on yellow thin wove paper.
  • 4 annas, design B. Black on rose thin wove paper.
The envelopes (Fig. 3) are of thin white laid paper and measure 120 × 68 millimetres. The stamp is printed on the right hand top corner of the envelope, but apparently the envelopes are just as often put into the press upside-down as not. The design is a type-set rectangle enclosed in a single-lined frame measuring 16 × 19 millimetres, with the words which signify in Hindi (1) State, (2) Duttia, and (3) Half Anna, in three horizontal lines. The colour employed is Black. The post-card (Fig. 4) measures 160 × 94 millimetres. It is printed in stout white wove paper. The inscription is in black. Besides the words "DATIA STATE POST-CARD" it contains the equivalent in Hindi of "On this side only the address of the receiver should be written." The stamp is on the right-hand top corner. It is a rectangle measuring 21 × 21 millimetres. The framework is an ornamental one of trefoils, and the inscription within is the equivalent in Hindi of (1) ST(ATE) DUTTIA and (2) Quarter-Anna, in two horizontal lines.

Unfortunately the Maharaja's seal (Figs. 3 and 4) which forms an important part of the stamp is so far undecipherable. It is a circle nearly 23 millimetres in diameter. It bears in the centre a human figure sitting cross-legged (probably a God or Goddess), surrounded by a Hindi inscription and finished off with a beaded border. It is apparently impressed indifferently in various coloured inks. The stamps collected by Mr. Pigott bear the impression, some in blue and some in brown. The seal is apparently cancelled with a pen mark, and the stamp by an oval obliteration bearing in the case of the Duttia office, the words "Head Office, Raj Duttia" in Hindi. The date and place of posting is noted on the article in manuscript, and a line is drawn round the entry. (Fig. 4.)

Follow-up comments in the March 1897 issue...

Since the appearance of our article on the Duttia State Post we have learned of a post-card issued in 1893 of the same size and colour as that of the Imperial post-card bearing the figure of the Goddess Lakshmi in place of the Queen's head. It is said that about 500 of these were issued and that the design was then given up on the score of expense.

We also report having seen used copies of a Duttia envelope on white laid paper measuring about 140 × 8O millimetres, and bearing on its top right-hand corner in black a stamp similar to design B of the adhesives of that State. Whether this is an earlier or a later issue we cannot yet say.

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