A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Monday, December 3, 2012

India- Officials and Convention States

Gwalior 1938 Scott O47 1a carmine "George VI"
"Gwalior" and "Service" in Devanãgari (Hindi) Script
Quick History
As part of the function of the "British India" government, naturally there was not a small amount of correspondence from government agencies. These "Official"  overprinted stamps from the "British India" regular issues will be covered in this post.

What about the non "British India" portion of India, namely the autonomous or semi-autonomous Native or Princely States?

Six states had a postal convention agreement with "British India" to use the regular issues of British India overprinted for use in their states. These "Convention" states are Chamba, Faridkot, Gwalior, Jind, Nabha, and Patiala. We will review the issues for the Convention States in this post.

Then there were the "Feudatory" States, in which the "British India" government had little internal control. A number of them (some 35 are listed in Scott) had their own stamp issues, valid only within the State. These fascinating issues, to say the least, will be covered in the next post.

Let's look at again at a map of the Native States....

India Native States 1934-47
Too confusing to make much sense here, but we will eventually review specifically many of the states that issued stamps.

Let's begin....
1938 Scott O100 1r brown & slate 
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has , from 1866-1943, 112 major number "Official" stamps. Of those, 73 are CV <$1-$1+ ( 65%). Clearly, a nice collection can be had for not much cost.

There are also 6 stamps for Air Post, and 43 stamps for "Military", namely China Expeditionary Force, and Indian Expeditionary Force. The "Military" category stamps have only 9 (21%) with a CV of <$1-$1+. Although a fascinating bit of history, I do not have any, so will say nothing more here. ;-)

For the Convention States, we will delay presenting the Scott statistics until later.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1866-73 Scott O18 1a brown
As mentioned, the "Official" category is an important one for India. Stamps can be found from 1866 with the "Service" overprint. Prior to the issue shown above, there are 15 stamps in the catalogue, with CV from $10+- $5000. ! 

The 1a brown illustrated was part of a 6 stamp group issued during 1866-73. CV is <$1-$2.

1874-82 Scott O25 4a green
"On H. M. S. " overprint
An " On Her Majesty's Service" (ON H. M. S.) was imprinted for the issue of 1874-82. This was actually used on issues through 1909, some 29 stamps. The 1874-82 issue had 5 stamps, 4 with CV of <$1-$4.

1883-97 Scott O28 1a maroon
The 1883-97 issue had 6 stamps, all with CV <$1. In general, the Official stamps for "British India" are inexpensive.

1902-09 Scott O38 1/2a green "Edward VII"
1906-07 Scott O45 1/2a green
Naturally, the Official stamps used postally reflect the commonly used regular stamps. Here presents an opportunity to show two designs of the "Edward VII" 1/2a green.

 1912-22 Scott O57 4a olive green " George V" -wmk Star
1926-35 Scott O82 2a dull violet -wmk Multiple Stars
Each stamp above represents an issue: the 1912-22 issue ( 8 stamps, CV <$1-$1+), and the 1926-35 issue ( 12 stamps, CV <$1 for 11 stamps). Although there can be some differences in color, and apparently overprint, the major difference is one of watermark.

Now let's change focus to the Convention States....

Located in North Punjab, south of Kashmir.
Capital: Chamba
Population: 169,000 (1941)

Town of Chamba
Located in the Himalayas in a valley along the Ravi river at 3400 feet, Chamba came under British suzerainty in 1846. Relations were cordial with the British, and  in 1863, the first Post Office was established.  The princely State of Chamba merged with India in April, 1948.

The Scott Classic catalogue has, from 1886-1948, 107 regular and 73 official stamps. CV for 38  stamps is <$1-$1+, (21%).
Chamba 1925 Scott O30 1a dark brown
The fascination for me with the Convention States is more with the states themselves, less so with the stamps: certainly compared to the Feudatory States. Nevertheless, they definitely have a higher CV than the corresponding "British India" stamps, so they are clearly collected enthusiastically. 

Above is an example from 1925 of an official Chamba State stamp.

Located northeast of Nabha in central Punjab.
Capital: Faridkot
Population: 164,000
Small city of Faridkot in east Punjab
Faridkot, along with the other Convention States of Jhind, Nabla, and Patiala, were all part of the cis-Sutlej states located in east Punjab. The four Punjabi states were closely allied, and all supported the British during the 1857 Rebellion.

Faridkot was a Feudatory stamp issuing state from 1879-1887, then a Convention State until 1901. After 1901, it no longer issued overprinted stamps, and regular British India stamps are found.

The Scott catalogue has, from 1887-1900, 11 regular and 9 official stamps listed. CV is <$1-$3 for 7 stamps.

I don't have any examples, so no more will be said, ;-)

Located in central India
capital: Lashkar (Called now Gwalior City)
Population: 4,000,000 (1941)

Gwalior Fort, built in the 8th century
Hot and humid during the long summer, Gwalior, located in central India, was the largest of the Convention States.

The Scott Classic catalogue has, from 1885-1949, 126 regular and 61 official major stamp descriptions. CV for 94 stamps is <$1-$1+ ( 50%).

1930 Scott 72 1/2a green "George V"
English and Hindi Script
Gwalior had both the "Multiple Stars" and "Star" watermark found for this issue. So, like the regular "British India" George V issue, a watermarking tray will be needed. ;-) For the 1912-23 and 1828-32 issues ( Total 21 stamps), the CV is <$1-$1+ for 16 stamps.

1938-40 Scott 91 1/2a brown "George VI"
The seven stamp issue, with the 1/2a brown shown above, is CV is <$1 for three stamps, and CV $5+-$7+ for three stamps.

1895 Scott O1 1/2a green, overprinted
The Gwalior Official stamps have Hindi script only.
Noted above is an official stamp for Gwalior, actually the first one. If one doesn't know Hindi script, one might have difficulty identifying the stamp. ;-)

Hindi alphabet
If one does the translation, the stamp is overprinted with "Gwalior", and "Service". ;-)

1913 Scott O21 3p gray "George V", overprinted
1927-35 Scott O30 3p slate
The CV for the two separate watermark issues (Total 13 stamps) is <$1=$1+ for 12 stamps.

But there are some color differences between the like denomination stamps. Note the "gray" for the 1913 stamp, and "slate" for the 1927 stamp: quite characteristic, and usually noticeable.

Jhind (Jind)
Located in northern Punjab.
Capital: Sangrur
Population: 360,000 (1941)
1909 Map of Punjab
Jind, Chamba, Faridkot, Patiala, and Nabha (in Patiala)
Jind was a feudatory stamp issuing state from 1864- 1885, then was a convention state until 1948.

The Scott Classic catalogue has, from 1885-1943, 142 regular and 75 official stamp descriptions.
CV of <$1-$1+ is found for 85 stamps ( 39%).

1903-06 Scott O16 3p gray "Edward VII"
The spelling is sometimes Jhind, sometimes Jind, as we shall see. The "Edward VII" issue for 7 stamps has a CV of <$1-$3+.

1914-27 Scott O27 1a carmine rose
1927-32 Scott O39 1a dark brown
The two watermarked issues for George V have other differences. As one can clearly observe, here there are different colors and different overprints.

The CV for the two issues ( Total 20 stamps) is <$1-$1+ for 16 stamps.

Located in eastern Punjab
Capital: Nabha
Population: 340,000 (1941)

Nabha was a small state scattered into enclaves in Patiala and Jind. Nabha had 15 post offices.

The Scott Classic catalogue has, from 1885-1946, 112 regular and 51 official descriptive stamps. CV of <$1-$1+ is found for 49 stamps (30%).

1885-97 Scott 11 1/2a green "Victoria"
1885-97 Official Scott O6 1/2a green
Noted above are the regular and official versions of the 1/2a green "Victoria" The regular stamp was part of a 15 stamp series with a CV of <$1-$5+ for 7 stamps. The official stamp belonged to a 9 stamp issue with catalogue value <$1-$2+ for 5 stamps.

1903-09 Scott 27 3p gray "Edward VII"
The Edward VII issue for Nabha had 13 stamps, 5 of them with CV <$1-$1+.

1913 Scott 42 1a carmine rose
1927-32 Scott 52 1/2a green
Although the issues are primarily separated by watermark, here one can note a different overprint also. The 18 stamps total in the issues have a CV of <$1-$1_ for 12 stamps.

Located in eastern Punjab.
Capital: Patiala
Population: 1,900,000 (1941)

See map for location.

The Scott Classic catalogue has, from 1884-1947, 115 regular and 76 official descriptive stamps.
For a CV of <$1=$1+, 92 stamps are found (48%).

1885 Scott 7 1/2a green, red overprint
Note "Puttialla" variation overprint
Some of the overprints for the convention states are in red; although not too many.  The 1885 issue (6 stamps) can be found in either red or black, but not both. The CV ranges from <$1-$6 for 4 stamps. 

1903-09 Scott O20 1/2a green "Edward VII"
1907 Scott O27 1/2a green
The different designs for the 1/2a green is shown here. For the "Edward VII" issues ( 10 stamps), 7 of them are available for CV <$1.

1913-26 Scott O32 2a violet "George V"
1927-36 Scott O44 2a dull violet
The two same value (2 annas) stamps for the two issues have reportedly a "violet", and a "dull violet" color. I'm not sure I agree with the color descriptions here, but they are clearly different colors. ;-)

Gwalior 1940-44 Scott O52 3p slate
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, has 56 spaces for "British India" officials, 8 spaces for "Military", and 4 spaces for air post. Coverage is 50%, 19%, and  67% respectively. As I only found 9 stamps with a modest CV of <$1-$1+ for "Military", the coverage by BB actually looks good.

For the "Convention States", the '41/'47 and '69 ( and presumably the '97) only have a blank page with the six convention states listed along the top. There would be about 7 spaces apiece for each convention state if each had their own vertical column. For Chamba, Faridkot, Gwalior, Jhind, Nahba, and Patiala, coverage would be 4%, 35%, 4%, 3%, 4%, 4% respectively.

If one would rather take the democratic view that any 42 Convention State stamps are acceptable to fill the page, then 42/958 = 4.4% overall coverage by BB.

Clearly, for the BB collector looking for additional inexpensive stamps, the Convention States would offer many: 365 by my count ( CV <$1-$1+).


• This section of BB is inexpensive to fill with only one blank space choice having a CV of $10+.

• Forced by some blank space choices in the "British India" Official section, one must pay attention to some of the George V issues watermarks. ;-)

-1912-22 O57 4a olive green ~ 1926-35 (O86) 4a olive green
-O58 6a bister ~ (O87) 6a bister
-O59 8a red violet ~ (O88) 8a red violet
-O57-O59 are "Star" wmk, while O86-O88 are "multiple star" wmk.


Official Stamps







O78,O79 or O93, O94,O95,O96,O82,O81 or O83*, O84,
O85, (O86*),(O87*), (O88*), (O89), O97,O98,O99,

(Military stamps)



Next Page

Official Stamps

Air Post stamps

End of Page

Convention States
Chamba, Faridkot, Gwalior, Jhind, Nahba, and Patiala
Blank Page
Either 7 stamps in a vertical row for each Convention State, or 42 stamps total from any or all Convention States to fill the page, or a combination. ;-)
Choose from any stamp in the catalogue.

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1935 (Scott O87) 6a bister ($10+)

B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

C) O33*:  Nothing really fits for the "1900-07" Edward VII issues here, as the next horizontal row includes all the issue. So I put in a "Queen Victoria" 1899 O33 for the blank space choice. One should change the date then to "1899-07". ;-)

D) O55*: The 1a dark brown, a '22 issue, and the only one that works for this blank space. The date "1911-13" should then be changed to "1911-22".

E) O81 or O83*: Different designs, but both work for the intent of the space.

F) Stamps mainly differing in watermark! (George V issue)
1912-22 O57 4a olive green ~ 1926-35 (O86) 4a olive green
O58 6a bister ~ (O87) 6a bister
O59 8a red violet ~ (O88) 8a red violet
O57-O59 are "Star" wmk, while O86-O88 are "multiple star" wmk.
Note: although O86-O88 are blank space choices, there really are no other choices. ;-)

Jind 1907 Scott O24 1a carmine rose
Out of the Blue
I enjoyed this post more than I thought I would. The "British India" Officials, and the Convention States all have overprinted regular issue "British India" stamps. That affords an opportunity to show off these nicely designed stamps once again. And I learned something about the Convention States.

For the BB collector, realize the 42 stamp maximum (for a blank page) for the Convention States is the tip of an iceberg. There are actually 958 major number stamps in the catalogue, 365 of them with a CV of <$1-$1+.

Note: Maps, photos, Hindu alphabet pic, appear to be in the public domain.

India - Bud's Big Blue

Would like to hear from you-drop a comment!


  1. Thanks, Jim, for this. It cuts through the "noise" and clarified, for me, for the first time, the "convention states" and "feudatory states" business. The maps were helpful.

    I can't figure out how one gets "service" out of the Hindi (the caption above the alphabet chart has "Hindu" by mistake) overprint on the Gwalior stamps. Is it the Hindi word for "service" and thus only 4 or so letters? That's all I can make out.

    But even that is far more than I previously knew about Hindi--to have the alphabet chart and be able to recognize even a character or two (okay, it was easier because I already knew what letters I was looking for, since you told us what it said) is an advance.


  2. I never realized that the convention states were all clustered around the Punjab. It's things like that that help a person "get the picture."



  3. Thanks Dennis

    I fixed the glitch.

    The Hindi script-and what one does with it- is a bonus. I'm certainly no expert. ;-)