It is great fun collecting stamps. They come in different colours, sizes and shapes. Some of the old stamps were not perforated and they had to be divided with a pair of scissors or a sharp knife. Nowadays all stamps are perforated so that they can be easily separated. When we are young all of us love to collect stamps removed from the rejected covers of the letters our parents receive or from the office mail of our fathets or mothers if they are working.
Stamps are found on letters all over the world with lovely pictures printed beautifully in vivid colours. Sometimes you find you have more than one of the same kind. They are called duplicates. You can exchange these stamps with your friend for those you do not have. In this process you acquire a new friend and also a. friend with the same interest. In course of time, your collection grows and so do the number of your friends. After some time you all will feel that it is nice to meet at one another's place and discuss amongst yourselves how to arrange the stamps in a notebook or in a stamp album, if you can afford it out of your pocket money at that stage. These albums are available at a reasonable price.
Stamps are issued by the government of each country. They are really receipts for prepayment of postage for the letter you post, and the value printed on the stamp 'represents the predetermined cost of carrying the cover containing your letter to its destination. This is the cost, which the post office has to incur and if the letter is sent to another country, both the post offices together have to incur. Apart from using the stamps for postage, all countries in the world print extra stamps for stamp collectors to purchase at various philatelic bureaus in the country. We have nearly fifty of them all over ,India in important cities. This gives the post office additional revenue for rendering no postal service. Some countries make their stamps very beautiful mainly to attract philatelists coy to collect their stamps, and make considerable philatelic revenue out of such sales.
All outstanding aspects of national and international achievements of a country are depicted on its stamps. These include the portraits of great men, flora and fauna, architecture and scenery, national and international events, culture and heritage, sports and entertainment, of and art and artists. The stamps of a nation are a veritable and permanent mirror of the country's achievements. That is why it is said the stamps you represent an authentic pictorial history of a country recorded for do I posterity. Stamps are also used in some countries as a medium of plat instruction on various subjects in schools
What we understand as a postal stamp today is an adhesive label with the appropriate price of postage printed on it. This book deals with star stamps issued after India attained her Independence. The issues are to two types: the first, the normal denominative issues, consisting of all in p the values necessary for regular postal transactions, and the second, are the commemoratives, which are issued on special occasions to celebrate events of national or international importance or to , honour eminent personalities, living or dead, or even to record the glory of the nation in all its aspects and achievements as enumerated. These commemoratives The are issued mostly in singles and occasionally as a series as the purpose size demands.
Though our post office has triangular and rhomboid stamps, the dip; standard shape preferred is a rectangle. These stamps are printed star on large sheets of paper consisting of a number of such stamps it ti separated by perforations twelve or fifteen in number for every two larg centimetres, so that the individual or strips or blocks of stamps are easily detached.
Stamps can be collected in blocks or pairs or strips or individually, used or unused, with their gum intact. The latter are called "mint" stamps and the former "used" stamps. If the used stamps are neatly and clearly cove cancelled, they convey more information of the date of their use, the con; place of issue and so on. Collections can also be made of stamps on unk covers. Sometimes you find small covers with more than one stamp of mor different colours neatly cancelled with other postal markings in various hues. In such a case it is best to affix the entire cover on an album siml sheet and not to remove the stamps. In instances of used stamps without nun usec covers, you should prefer well centred and lightly cancelled stamps, if you have a choice.
Now let us, for a moment, consider the normal make up of a stamp. As I mentioned earlier, most of the Indian stamps are rectangular in shape and are perforated. They are normally printed on white or off-white paper. The paper may or may not contain a watermark. The colour of the gum may vary from one issue to another. When you select used stamps for mounting on your album page, you should take care to remove the paper attached to these. This you do by putting some clean, cold water in a shallow vessel like a porcelain plate and floating the stamps, preferably the stamped side up, on the surface of the water till the paper detaches itself after some time. Then place them on a sheet of clean, white, blotting paper and allow the stamps to dry. You may then affix all your stamps, neatly arranged, up to a dozen per page, in a pleasing sequence. If some of your stamps are in pairs or in strips or blocks, do not disturb them. Mount them as they are and rearrange the other stamps to make place for them. Covers with stamps can also be used with individual stamps or in pairs to make a nice pattern.
Used stamps and covers are affixed on album pages with hinges. These are small pieces of butter paper, an inch by about half inch in size, gummed on one side. To use, fold the hinge with the gummed side out, lightly touch one folded side with a clean, tiny paintbrush dipped in water and stick the hinge on the top reverse side of the stamp. Repeat the process on the other side of the hinge and affix it to the album page. In the case of a cover, use two hinges of a larger size.
In course of time, you will find that your collection of stamps and covers increasing in worth and, if you are very fortunate, even to a considerably enhanced value. Some of the stamps you may have unknowingly pasted in your album may even turn out to be rare stamps, more valuable than the rest. What are rare stamps and why are they valuable? The answer is simple and can be given in a single word—scarcity. If there are a large number of stamps of the same type, their price will be moderate and for used ones, negligible. If, however, only very few stamps of the same variety are available, then their price will be higher than that normal stamps depending on how few are available in that variety. Scarcity can be caused by different reasons. A particular stamp may be very old and only a few might have have survived the onslaught of time, wastage and loss. There might be an error on the stamp, a printing error, a perforation error, a watermark error or a colour missing error or the like.
A printing error may be a double print or an additional printing on the reverse. A perforation error is caused by the inadvertent use of a different gauge perforation in some sheets or again a double perforation of the same stamp or, as it happens sometimes, an entire line in the sheet might have missed being perforated, leading to.imperf between pairs error. A watermark error is caused by the inadvertent deletion of watermark from the sheet or its inversion during printing or the wrong watermark being used and so on. In a multicoloured stamp several colours are used and an error can occur by omission of one of the colours in a couple of sheets during printing. Any of these errors can result in a rare variety, which may earn its owner a small fortune!
After my marriage. I joined my husband, Balchand, at Ernakulam, in the then Cochin State. 'He had just started practising as a lawyer. This was in 1943. He used to get letters from his clients from all over India and some outside India. The registered letters had a greater number of stamps. The stamps on some of the covers were beautiful, particularly on covers that came from outside India. One of my husband's clients was the General Manager of a Swiss company and the covers of the letters from that country had very lovely stamps on them. When he knew that I was interested in stamps, he sent me a large number of covers and stamps from his office mail.
Later on when Balchand's practice increased, he got me more and more covers with attractive stamps. Within a few years India secured Independence and we started printing our own stamps, which were very beautiful. In the first ten years of our Independence we produced particularly good stamps. Most of those stamps are reproduced in these • pages. With the increase in foreign mail in the office, I got a variety of stamps from all over the world. But my interest in the stamps we ourselves produced in our country grew. With the increase in his practice, • Balchand had to often travel all over India for many days every month and collecting stamps helped me to spend my time usefully and not feel the loneliness.
I also came to know the wives of many officers in the big mercantile firms in Cochin and with their help I enhanced my collection. I also commenced my collection of Indian stamps in 1947 when the first set of Independnce came on the market in November that year.
We shifted to Delhi in 1958. I subscribed to the Philatelic Bureau in Dak Tar Bhavan and completed my collection of Post-Independence Indian stamps, adding to the collection as and when new stamps are issued. In Delhi, during the late 1980s, an exhibition was held by the Hungarian embassy where I was invited to present my collection of Post-Independence Indian stamps, topic by topic. I have rearranged the same exhibit to suit the requirement of this book.
Post-Independence Indian stamps can be broadly divided into a few categories—personalities, events, themes and the normal issues of denominatives or only into two major sub-divisions, namely, the denominatives and the commemoratives. Except for the archaeological series, my collection in this book consists only of commemoratives, that is, of events, themes and personalities, arranged according to subjects. The pictures in the plates commences with personalities. The first plate starts with the pictures of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation, who helped win us our freedom. The next two pages depict the family which gave us three Prime Ministers—Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter, Indira Gandhi and her son, Rajiv Gandhi. The others seen on the first page are Moti Lal Nehru, the father of Jawaharlal Nehru, and Kamala, Jawaharlal Nehru's wife. The next two pages consist of the two Governors-General and first five Presidents of Free India. The following two pages show a few of the freedom fighters in that series, not necessarily the important ones.
The themes consist of archaeology, dances of India, artists and poets of India, child art, birds, wildlife and animals, brides of India, sports, international personalities and events. The events included are the Centenary of the Indian National Congress, the first Five Year Plan, the Ninth and the Eleventh Asian Games, and the Quit India Movement. Free India has produced a large number of stamps on many subjects which cannot be conveniently covered in a book of the present size. I hope more books will be produced on Indian stamps which will cover many more subjects not dealt within this book.
Collecting stamps has given me a lot of happiness for more than fifty years. I commenced collecting stamps in 1943. It is a pleasant hobby. The process of collection has also taught me many things that I may not have otherwise known about.
Stamp collecting or 'philately' is often called the 'king of hobbies' or the 'hobby of kings' because George V of England and Kaiser William of Germany were its adherents. So also were President Roosevelt of the U.S.A. But it need not be so. You can buy a stamp for a million dollars (the British Guyana—one cent) or you can also buy any number of modern, low-value, used stamps of every shape and colour and make a beautiful collection of stamps. So, stamp collecting can be a king or queen of hobbies but it need not exclusively be a hobby of kings or queens. It can also be the hobby of ordinary persons like you and me and we can enjoy it as much or even more than a king.
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