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...

Friday, October 20, 2017


1917 Scott 16  2a brown
"Sripech and Crossed Khukris"
Telegraph Use
Quick History
With the addition of more material, I've decided to re-publish the Nepal blog post.
Update (2019): There is a new catalog available for Nepal, and it is available free on the internet!


Here is a note from Frank (who is co-author, and a member of our local club):

"The Nepal Classics catalog that I put together with Richard Frajola is at http://www.rfrajola.com/nepalcat/nepalcat.htm.  He did most of the work and I mainly commented and made a few suggestions.  There are links on the web page to some very nice items that will enable you to see the European wove paper.  There should also be links to my collection."
Situated in the Himalayas between India and Tibet in South Asia, Nepal lays claim to eight of the ten highest mountains in the world, including Sagarmatha in Nepali (Mount Everest).

The population was ~5,600,000 in 1940, and the Capital is Kathmandu.

The religion is Hinduism.

The Kingdom of Nepal, under the Royal Family Rana Dynasty, and their hereditary powerful Prime Ministers, had a close relationship with the British Empire from 1846 until 1951. In fact, I note that Nepal is listed in the British Empire section of my 1947 Scott catalogue.

Stamps were introduced in 1881. Of interest is that Nepalese stamps were only valid in Nepal up to 1937,when they became valid in India and certain border cities in Tibet. They then became valid world wide in 1959, when Nepal joined the UPU.

The early classic design was printed at Chhapakhana Press in Katmandu.

1907 Scott 26 2p brown
"Siva Mahadeva"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for Nepal 1881-1935, 43 major stamp descriptions. Of those, 6 are CV <$1-$2, or 14%. Raising the bar to $10, yields 19 stamps (44%). But the earlier stamps ( 1881-1917 Scott 1-24) are not particularly common in collections, and are rather expensive. So, although true, that a number of the 1907-1935 stamps are reasonable, they still need to be found.

Used stamps (Scott 9-49) are actually valued as telegraph cancels ( usually crescent shaped) in the Scott catalogue. Older remainder postage stamp stocks, beginning in 1917, were used to pay telegraph fees.

I am somewhat fortunate, because a member of the local stamp club is a Nepal specialist.

Here is a note Frank sent me about the stamps of Nepal...

Going by Scott catalogue numbers is difficult because one number covers several varieties. 

In general there are three types.  The first 1881 issue is on European wove paper.  The second series that runs from 1886 to 1907, and is on native paper.  The third series, that was used for telegraph forms, can be found from 1917 to approximately 1930.  The second and third issue have the black half Anna stamps.

In actuality there are about 30 printings of the 1 Anna and 2 Anna stamps from 1881 to 1930 and about a dozen of the 4 Anna stamps.  These stamps were all printed from the original 1881 plates.

The telegraph canceled stamps are fairly common, as the sometimes would use whole sheets of stamps on a telegraph form.  The rate was something like 2 pice per word. 

1 Anna = 4 pice and the first issue had 1, 2, and 4 Anna stamps.

The first Sri Pashupati issue had 2, 4, 8, and 16 pice that replaced the ½, 1, 2, and 4 Anna stamps.  They kept the postal rates fairly constant for a long time.

Comment: Thirty printings! No wonder early Nepal stamps are definitely specialty territory, requiring intensive study, and a very good reference collection of books! And the stamps were all printed from the original- or retouched- 1881 plates! And as fact, the known settings total 85 for the 1a (28), 2a (31), 4a (12), and 1/2a (14).

So, unless the WW collector wishes to dive deeply into Nepal, I'm afraid a superficial acquaintance, based on the (inadequate for specialists) Scott catalogue, is all one can hope to accomplish. 

Therefore, I will present the stamps at the level of the Scott catalogue here, with comments added from the specialty materials.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
4 Pice (Paisas) = 1 Anna
64 Pice (Paisas) = 16 Annas = 1 Rupee (Rupaiya)
1881 Scott 2 2a purple "Sripech and Crossed Khukris"
European Wove Paper; Pin-perf
The first three denomination issue for Nepal in April, 1881 was on European white wove paper. They can be found either with pin-perf, or imperforate.

They were probably issued on April 14, which is the Nepalese New Year's Day.

Denominations and colors are the 1a ultramarine, 2a purple, and 4a green. Specialty reference catalogues (such as Hellrigl/Vignola "The Classic Stamps of Nepal"- 1984)  lists 3/2/3 shade colors respectively.

They are printed clearly and distinctly.

CV for pin-perf is $300-$500, imperforate is $175-$275. 

Obviously, expensive.

1881 Scott 5 2a purple
European Wove Paper; Imperforate
The 2 annas stamp, shown here, was used for letters within Nepal weighing up to 2 tolas ( 1`tola = legal weight of the British-Indian rupee = 11.66 grams).

The Devanagari script at top reads "Shri Gorka", and at bottom "Sarkar", translated as "Government".

Sripech (Upper half)
and Crossed Khukris (Lower half)
The central panel consisted of a crude drawing of a Sripech (jewelled headdress) and Crossed Khukris (Gurka knifes).

Surenda Bikram Shah - King of Nepal (Reign 1847-1881)
Wearing a Sripech
A Sripech had diamonds and emeralds, and a plume made of feathers taken from the bird of paradise.

The Khukri, a curved sword or knife, is the national weapon of the Gurkhas.

EK  ANA (1 anna); DO ANA (2 annas); CHAR ANA (4 annas)
How does one tell the denomination?

Look at the side panels.

DO ANA (2 annas)
Note for the 2 annas stamps shown above, the symbol for DO ANA is inscribed on the side panels.

1886 Scott 8 2a violet
Native Wove Paper; Imperforate
Beginning in 1886, native wove paper was used, producing the imperforate three denominations. as before. The paper was derived from the inner bark of a native evergreen from the mountains of Nepal.

The issue (with multiple printings) was continued until 1907. Many of the printings (and settings) are characterized by various different marginal inscriptions on the outside of the sheet. This would interest the specialist.

As one would expect, the plates continued to show more wear and tear. Note the detail for this 2a violet shown above is not nearly as clear and distinct as earlier.

Now, how can one tell the difference between the European wove paper stamps and the native paper types?

Upper row: European wove paper
Lower row: Native paper
The European paper is white, and the paper has a regular tight mesh-like wove quality.

The native paper appears more haphazard, with possible strands of fiber seen. The color is off-white, and can vary from thick to thin (tissue paper). The paper is tough, and doesn't tear easily, The poorest quality paper may show bark and parts of insects.

1886 Scott 9 4a green
Native Wove Paper; Imperforate
This 4a green (actually yellow green, a known shade in the specialty catalogues) is probably an early printing (1886-89). It shows a very clear impression, on thin to medium paper of good native paper quality.

The 1886 Scott 7-9 stamps have a CV of $20+-$50+.

1886 Scott 9 4a green
"Sripech and Crossed Khukris"
Here is another example of the Scott 4a native paper in a darker shade of green. This could be a 1898-1907 era production, as the printing is quite blurred, and the paper appears to be of poorer quality.

1899 Scott 10 1/2a black
"Siva's Bow and Two Khukris"
This stamp was produced in 1899, and is shown here, a 1/2a black. Two varieties- imperf (1899-1907) & pin-perf (1900-1903) - on Native wove paper were issued (CV $10+).

This design was not used again, except for a 1/2a red orange imperf (CV $400) released in 1917.

1898-1917 Scott 13 1a pale blue
Type of 1881; Imperforate
(Cancel, probably from telegraph use, indicates a later date of use for this example)
Scott lists a "Type of 1881" issue between 1898-1917 consisting of 1a pale blue, 2a gray violet, 2a claret ('17), 2a brown ('17), and 4a dull green denomination-color combinations. Each denomination-color combination exists as imperforate and pin-perf, all with major numbers (Scott 13-22).

Note this 1a pale blue specimen is quite blurry.

CV varies from $10-$150.

1898-1917 Scott 14 2a gray violet
Type of 1881; Imperforate
This 2a gray violet appears to have a more clear impression, suggesting an earlier printing.

1917 Scott 16  2a brown
"Sripech and Crossed Khukris"
The telegraph period lasted between 1917-1930.  At first, the remainder stock, stored since 1907, was used. But then plates were again used to produce more stamps to pay for telegraph fees. The impressions range from slightly blurred to very blurred.

Notice the crescent mark? This is characteristic of a telegraph cancellation. These telegraph cancellations are common. As mentioned, Scott actually values the used Scott 9-49 for telegraph cancels.

1917-18 Scott 29A 1a bright blue
The Scott 29A 1a bright blue, according to Scott, was issued in 1917-18. 

The issue has a slightly altered design compared to the previous issues. Scott has a note that 29A may not have been used postally. This design (A4) was designated for telegraph use, but was valid for postal use.

1917-18 Scott 29Ab 1a indigo
This is the minor number variant with color indigo.

1907 Scott 27 4p green
"Siva  Mahadeva"
In 1907, a four stamp issue from Perkins Bacon in London was produced with the "Silva Mahadeva" (Pashupati), a Hindu Deity image. Note the five characters on the bottom tablet read "Gurkha Sirkar". The date divided in the lower corners reads "1964". This script is characteristic for the 1907 issue.

The CV is a modest <$1-$3.

1929 Scott 36 1r orange red
"Siva  Mahadeva"
The 1907 issue was redrawn in 1929, with a production of eight stamps. This time, the nine characters on the bottom tablet read "Nepal Sirkar", and the date divided in the lower corners reads "1986".

The CV is <$1-$4 for seven stamps.

1935 Scott 38 2p dark brown
Engraved, Perf 14, "Siva Mahadeva"
In 1935, an engraved redrawn 1929 issue was produced with six stamps. The 1935 issue has "`1992" date characters in the lower corners. CV ranges from <$1-$8.

The Perfs are 14 which help distinguish this issue from the similar (in design) "typographic" 1941-46 issue.

And the "aluminum foil" test reveals this issue as definitely engraved.

1941 Scott 46 8p rose red
Perf 11, Typographed, ""Siva Mahadeva"
Between 1941-46, a typographic issue was produced with seven stamps.

This issue, similar to the 1935 Perf 14 engraved issue,  has the "1992" date characters in the lower corners. CV ranges from <$1-$10+.

 The typographic process in this case produced stamps without much detail.. If in doubt, the "aluminum foil" test will show these stamps are not engraved. And the ragged perforations are 11 here, compared to the 14 for the preceding engraved stamps.

It should be mentioned that the Nepalese did not leave anything to waste, and all stamps between 1917 and the 1950s are more common with telegraph use.

Deep Blue
The "Siva Mahadeva" issues in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has three pages for classic era Nepal. All of the major numbers have a space.

For the "Siva Mahadeva" stamps, I added the 1941-46 "typographic" issue to the page, as this issue can definitely get confused with the 1935 engraved issue, which is similar in design.

1929 Scott 33 16p dark red violet
"Siva Mahadeva"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on one page has fourteen spaces. Coverage is 32%.

Note: I have updated the CV discussed here to the 2017 catalogue. There has been a significant increase since the last valuation (2011).

Nepal in Big Blue
There are several problems with the coverage.
• The redrawn 1935 issue (six stamps) is not given a space.
• Then BB gives a space to a very expensive stamp- namely the 1881 Scott 5 2a purple Imperf @ $200 used! If one elects to ignore color, then Scott 8 violet ($30+) & 14 gray violet ($60) & 19 gray violet ($90) are available. If one further ignores date criteria, then  four more stamps (1917 Scott 15,16,20,21) are available. Your choice. 



(Image- "Sripech and Crossed Khukris") 1a space*
1881 Scott 1 1a ultramarine Pin-Perf, or
1881 Scott 4 1a blue Imperf, or
1886 Scott 7 1a ultramarine Imperf, or
1898 Scott 13 1a pale blue Imperf, or
1898 Scott 18 1a pale blue Pin-Perf

2a "Purple" space*
1881 Scott 2 2a purple Pin-Perf ($375!), or
1881 Scott 5 2a purple Imperf ($200 used!)
(Alternative choices if ignore BB's color criteria...)
1886 Scott 8 2a violet Imperf ($30+), or
1898 Scott 14 2a gray violet Imperf ($60)
1898 Scott 19 2a gray violet Pin perf ($90)

4a "Green" space*
1881 Scott 3 4a green Pin Perf
1881 Scott 6 4a green Imperf
1886 Scott 9 4a green Imperf

10 or 12,


1931-34 (Actually 1929)*


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1881 Scott 5 2a purple Imperf ($200)
1886 Scott 9 4a green Imperf ($50+)
B) *1a space- multiple choices are available- Scott 7,13, or 18 are CV $10 or more.
C) * 2a Purple space- BB's criteria for the purple color means that Scott 5 ($200) is the least expensive choice! If one ignores color, then Scott 8 ($30+) & 14 ($60) & 19 ($90) are available. If one also ignore's BB's dates, then  four more stamps (1917 Scott 15,16,20,21) are available for $10 or more.
D) *4a green space- least expensive by far is the Scott 9 4a green Imperf ($50+). Other choices (Scott 17 & 22) are the wrong color.
E) 1931-32 (Actually 1929)- there is no room in BB for the redrawn 1935 stamps (Scott 38-43).

1946 Scott 49 32p deep blue  
Perf 11, "Typographed","Siva Mahadeva"
Out of the Blue
I am - to my regret- not a mountain climber (although I did once scramble up the 10,000+ foot Middle Sister in Oregon ;-), but I have always been fascinated with  mountain climbing expedition literature, and have read my fair share of that genre.

Now I have added stamps to the equation.

Thanks to Frank, a Nepal specialist, who helped critique this blog post.

Further Reference:
Nepal and Tibet Study Circle
First Stamps of Nepal: "Conquering Early Stamps of the Himalayas"
By Joseph Iredale, The American Philatelist, Page 536-538, June, 2017

Note: Map, Annapurna range pic appear to be in the public domain.

I like comments!
Annapurna Range


  1. Nepal's always been one of my favorites. I like the minimal issues policy and find the crudeness of the early stamps interesting. And it's from an area in Asia I've always found interesting.

    It looks like Scott didn't put in its best efforts in designing these pages for Nepal. Not sure why they would include an expensive stamp in place of more common ones. I suppose decades ago when the pages were designed, it was the same situation.

    BB collectors could add a blank page to deal with the problem, but I wish there were some way to replace pages which don't have good selections with pages that do.

    I don't suppose Scott is going to be forthcoming and offer "improved" replacement upgrades for all their pages that include expensive stamps while omitting more common ones. It would nice to think they'd do that, but I'm not holding my breath.

    Maybe with computer technology, scanning, and so forth we'll be able soon to do that and add spaces where we need them and just replace pages like this one? Of course the page size may preclude doing that easily unless it's possible to print on a blank Scott page.

    Interesting write-up as always.

  2. Thanks Drew for your interesting comments.

    I suspect we will have to live with the reality of BB's Nepal coverage.

    For me, I will be sorely tempted to put the $10 stamp in rather than the $150 stamp. We cannot change what Scott has done, but we can make our own decisions about what stamp to put in, ;-)