An Indian Native PostmanBud's Big Blue
What exactly is India? Winston Churchill snarked, “India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the equator.”1 Judging from India’s classical era stamps, Churchill may have had a point. There were, in all, 43 authorities issuing stamps. BB offers a patchwork of spaces for Colonial and Feudatory (princely states) stamps, plus a single blank page for the Convention States -- far too thin for feeder-album fanatics like me. So, in my albums 26 supplement pages follow BB’s nine. Moreover, most of the open bits showing on the supplement pages (see below) have been filled since the scans were made.
The India count is greatly increased by a flood of official stamps. Every clerk and minor colonial official, it would seem, used and abused their franking privileges. While all of these are interesting to collectors, even the most casual among us, the Feudatory stamps are by far the most enchanting and, as the result, the most often forged. Sorting the honest from the bogus requires an expertise that’s both expensive and in scarce supply. I’m saving up for it.
1From a speech at London’s Constitutional Club in 1931, cited by The Economist, February 9, 2017, and often elsewhere to the dismay of India’s citizens.
Census: 244 in BB spaces, 16 tip-ins, 763 on supplement pages.
Hyderabad Post Office
India was essentially made up of two types: "British India", directly ruled by the Empress of India (Victoria) through the Governor-General, and then the "Princely States" ("Native States"), in which the government of British India, through a Viceroy, granted self-rule through a British matrix.
In 1947, when India and Pakistan became independent from Britain, there were 565 princely states! Most, though, were small, and had contracted out the business of government (and stamp issue production) to the British. The larger ones had their own treaties with Britain, spelling out the rights of the Prince.
Collecting the stamps of India during the classical era is complicated, essentially a world into itself, and fun! One can spend a lifetime with the stamps of India. Big Blue only scratches the surface, but what a surface it is!
One can see by reviewing Bud's pages here that the stamps of India overflow Big Blue's modest representation: in fact, 26 supplementary pages! Enjoy!
India 1854-1940 Blog Post and BB Checklist
India - BOB, Convention States
India - Native States