Jammu & Kashmir
- the biggest, baddest, Ugliest
of the Uglies - and stamps that some of the great names, Ferrary and Tapling, were not ashamed to own ...
The stamps are every bit as complicated as the story of the State itself. But to be brief, 'Jammu and Kashmir' was formed in the 1830s, when the ruler of Jammu in the lowlands in the Northern Punjab, marched over the mountains to his North and captured Kashmir from the Afghans, who had controlled it for centuries. The British were content to largely leave the Maharajas of the combined State to their own devices, as a buffer between India and China and Russia to the North and Afghanistan in the West. (Think the Great Game of Rudyard Kipling's Kim
.) They did, however, conduct campaigns in the North of the State, against the legendary Hunza amongst others - and campaign mail from these expeditions is quite desirable.
As Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, was a very pleasant place to be in Summer, the State was administered from there for most of the year. However, as it was largely isolated by snow in Winter, the administration then moved down to Jammu. This had its impact on the stamps, as we shall see.
Now read on ...
The first issues of Jammu & Kashmir appeared in 1866. They summarize in themselves 'The Uglies'. They were designed with only the slightest, passing, reference to any stamp design that had gone before. They are what they are - love 'em or hate 'em:
There were three values: Â½ Anna, 1 Anna and 4 Annas - in the order above. For many years, there was argument about which was the 1 and which the 4 Annas. Scott had it right for many years, due to the efforts of two of the great North American Indian States specialists; Gibbons only corrected its listings a few years ago.
All the stamps were handstamped from single dies, engraved on brass. They were printed in both water and oil colours: practice will help distinguish between them, but usually the conclusive test is the very
careful dab with something wet. Stamps were printed on local paper, usually thickish and tough, and quite distinctive, and on European laid paper.
So far, so good. Printings continued until about 1878, when a new series of rectangular stamps was introduced. I'll come to these later.
The authorities must have been delighted to discover that mad foreigners would buy
these stamps, and not
use them on mail. Demand for these Circulars continued after they'd been withdrawn, so the State Post Office, happy to oblige, reprinted them.
Some of the reprints are easy to distinguish. The genuine stamps (with one, extremely rare exception) were never printed on European wove paper. It is also probable
that no reprints were made on European laid paper. And any Circular of genuine type, but in a 'wrong' colour is almost certainly a reprint.
The complications don't end there, by any means. Around the end of the life of these Circulars, the State Post Office seems to have engaged in an orgy of experimentation, with colours, inks and papers. Gibbons list some of these under SG 12 to 25a, as 'Special Printings'. There are other stamps of less certain status: probably genuine, but probably never issued for postage ... but then again, the State Post Office was a very frugal operation. Why throw away perfectly good stamps? Here are a couple of these doubtfuls:
On top of all this, it appears that some enterprising State Post Office employees decided to produce large quantities of stamps themselves, which they inserted into the government stocks - presumably in place of the genuine stamps. These differ in type from the genuine stamps. For many years, they were thought to be genuine - they did come from Government stocks after all - and were called the 'Missing Dies'. They are much
more common than the genuine stamps.
Here are the Missing Dies (above) and the genuine stamps (again) below:
I've written elsewhere on Stampboards about how to distinguish between them (viewtopic.php?t=4447
One last mystery from the Circulars - for now. This one has baffled the Greatest Minds of Jammu & Kashmir philately since it was discovered. Someone, at the time of issue it appears, altered the face values of these stamps, to turn 4 Anna into 1 Anna stamps. No other examples have ever been found, and noone knows why it was done:
Next, the individual issues for Jammu and Kashmir.