indian stamps
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PM 4 PM 8 PM 13 PM 25-27 PM 32-35
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Extensive Collection - Early Postmark Study on DLR Covers (1855-1880s)


 This was a wonderful specialised collection of about 1000 covers, and used postal stationery items, mostly from the early De La Rue printing period 1855 to 1875, plus a few later. A number of stamps are found on piece, or singles grouped by postmark type. The entire collection presents the wide range of early Indian cancellations – grouped according to primarily Jal Cooper (JC), as well as D.R. Martin (MN), and W. C. Renouf (RF).

 Present are the early diamond and circle of dots (type 1 and sub-types – more prevalent in the prior lithographic period pre-1855), through to the dated duplex types, and specialised subtypes, including a lot of scarce, or rare, and even unrecorded cancels, coloured cancellations as well as those showing errors (inverted letters/dates, missing numerals or letters etc.), and many other interesting facets, mainly in context on covers. When carefully studied, each can be like historical and geographical adventures, gleaned from the information captured upon their journey.

 All covers and stamps, are fairly well written up on pages, with quite detailed description, although some slight errors are found here and there. This extraordinary collection - full of postal history – contains examples of almost every postmark known of the period in question, including a huge variety of destinations like GB, Channel Islands, various European countries, and USA, and even scarcer places like Mauritius, Japan, and others. Also present are many registered and forwarded mail, military letters and covers, a few India examples used abroad like Burma, French India, and Muscat. Even a number of unusual postmarks as instructional and miscellaneous hand-stamps are found. Many other interesting postmarks are present – some inter-related some not – such as sorting marks, additional paid late, insufficient, railway post marks etc.

 Quite a number of the key covers with rare postmarks in this collection are Ex-Topaz David Feldman 2014. Some items found on certain PMs, and key dates, seem to correspond potentially with the actual instances used by Martin especially, and possibly those prior!

 This collection published on our AIA site, is broken down into downloadable merged PDFs of each main postmark type, with various postmark subtypes duly highlighted, and accessible via menu options. Just a few stray items in each section might not be appropriate to the PM type, due to partitioned expediency.

 Each postmark type with its downloadable section from menu, is accompanied by my own amalgamated concise notes – incorporating data from the key works listed below. With slightly revised descriptions of each PM type, and more modern vocabulary here and there, I have tried to create a brief description reference that can be partially cut and pasted into my own descriptions for such items. Along with recorded dates, mention is also made of examples found in this collection. These supplementary notes primarily use Cooper’s PM reference, with Martin (MN) and Renouf (RF) incorporated where possible, or necessary.

 The three most-relevant publications covering the postmarks of this era between 1855-1880, are much referenced throughout the collection on its display pages:

 a) Early Indian Cancellations Cooper J., F.R.G.S: pp92: 1948 2nd Ed. This important book has many strengths, including detail of the earlier PM types 1-3 (not covered by the later 1970 Martin work), more predominantly useful in the earlier Lithographic Period of 1852-55, yet these postmarks still overlap into the early De La Rue (DLR) periods, covered in this collection. Cooper’s work lays a valuable focus upon illustrating and describing the relative scarcity of many sub-variations found in each main postmark type, including important highly diverse urban variations. Abbreviated (JC).

 b) Numbers in Early Indian Cancellations 1855-1884 Martin D.R., Col: pp140: 1970, which focuses upon the early De La Rue printing period 1855-68, onwards to the middle QV period – the former especially prevalent in this collection. This monumental study is invaluable in extensively listing the PM numerals in conjunction with their Post Office locations, and to which postal sub-regions they belong! As a newer work, Martin better updates the recorded instances with dates on each numeral, within the main previously established PM types. Martin primarily adopted the reference system of Renouf – only partially synchronising with Cooper’s numbering system.

 Although PM varieties were not Martins primary focus, special mention should be given to his differentiating PM type 9, which he sub-divided into five main variations. While not a definitive research, it is a substantial foundation in understanding this complex PM type that became deployed nationwide, unlike the prior more easily researchable main PM sub-region types 4, 5, 6, 7. Abbreviated (MN).

c) A third work here referenced is Early Indian Cancellations and Postmarks 1852-1884 Renouf W., I.C.S: pp72: 1919, plus an additional supplement in 1923. However, notes accompanying this collection refer to much later revised edition (by Renouf himself), and incorporated as Appendix I (p. 485-549) in the Robson Lowe Encyclopaedia Vol III [1951]. Although originally 1919, and much older than the two above mentioned later works, they were partly built upon the foundation originally published by Renouf. His much later 1951 revision, acknowledges the subsequent contribution of Cooper and Martin in its introduction. Abbreviated (RF).

 Therefore, the golden period of Indian postmark study must be considered to have been between 1948 to 1960 (1970), when the three most important contributors of Indian postmark research were active at the same time!

  • October 10 2020
The India Study Circle (ISC)
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