The first adhesive postage stamp, the 1 paiso, was reported in European stamp magazines in November 1880 and was stated to have been issued on 1 June of that year. A few months later the other two values were reported - 2 annas and 4 annas. (Fig.: 1) No others were ever issued, and less than six years later, in 1886, the State Post was merged with the Indian postal system.

Fig. 1

Before the adhesives, however, postal stationery letter sheets appeared, although several peculiarities of detail suggest they were little used. The thin paper on which they were printed has two slightly different sized impressions of a sheet watermark reading DORLING & GREGORY (probably a British firm) and was of a size about 400 x 300mm, folded like large notepaper and embossed by the manufacturers at top left with the year 1874 in an oval wreathed frame. As the embossing was applied after folding, it went through both halves and appears in reverse on the left half when unfolded. This may not be the actual year of printing, as stocks of paper could have been held by the printer for years before being needed. Some sheets were printed on the inner side of the folded paper, hence showing the watermark reversed and the embossing in a different position.

The four values were all printed on one unfolded sheet, from a single stone with dividing lines crossing in the centre to indicate where they were to be cut. On one half were the 2p and 3p, and on the opposite half the 1p and 4p inverted. This means that equal quantities of each must have been produced, though early catalogues said the lowest value was scarcer and later lists have therefore priced it higher. The choice of values is illogical: 1, 2, 3 and 4 paisa - the latter would normally be expressed as 1 anna. Even if there were such postage rates at the date when letter-sheets were issued, they must have changed quickly as they do not conform to the adhesives values or to the rates recorded in 1882 (see below). Logically the 1 paiso must have been the minimum rate and would have been required in much larger quantities than the others.

Ed Deschl sends a copy of an uncut sheet of four (Fig. 2), and considers there were four stones locked together in a forme for printing. However it is difficult to envisage in this case how the uninterrupted dividing lines themselves were printed - they are not merely the edge of the stones, or printers' rule. Ed reminds me that one mint example of the 2 paisa sheet was recorded by Evans in 1902 on yellow paper. It is now in Ajeet Singhee's collection; this may well be a proof impression, but it now seems certain that the sheets were actually issued in the State, though little used. No-one has yet offered any ideas on the improbable range of denominations including '4 paisa' which logically should be one anna. Peter Röver has pointed out that the letter-sheets and adhesives appeared during a period of misrule on the part of Maharana Ganbhir Singhji, and that a joint British/native administration was imposed in 1884. As this was not successful, the State was put under full British administration in 1887 - just after closure of the posts - until this Raja's death in 1897. Peter adds that a State printing press was installed in 1883 under Ganbhir Singhji - too late for the postal paper to have been locally printed; and that the corrupt administration which must have ordered them had little idea what they needed (were they influenced by prompting from a dealer?).

Fig. 2

The circular design has the value in centre, with RÀJPIPLÀ DÀK in Gujarati at top and crossed branches at foot. The I vowel sign of RAJPIPLA is wrongly written as the short vowel (an error often made by uneducated writers), whereas the adhesive stamps show it correctly as a long sound. Also the adhesives use the word TAPÀL instead of DÀK for post. Early philatelic forgeries exist of at least the 3 paisa as cutouts - the way in which earlier philatelists collected stationery - in which the lettering is smaller and less well shaped, and the crossed branches are quite different. One of these has a smudged seal 'postmark' and has apparently been printed on paper obtained locally which has characters in Gujarati handwriting on the back to add authenticity, but the paper is too thick. In addition to the impressed stamp, each value has additional text on the front of the sheet, partly in Gujarati and partly in English: (Fig.: 3)

1 paiso - only 'NAMBAR' (number) in Gujarati (this is also on all the other values);

2 paisa - as above followed by REGISTERED in English, and below - FROM NANDODE POST OFFICE / UNKLESHWAR.

3 paisa - RAJPEEPLA STATE POST OFFICE / REWA KANTA in English in two lines;

4 paisa - entirely in Gujarati: NANDOD POST HÀPÌSH [office] / ANKLESHWAR GUJRÀT.

Fig. : 3

Nandod denotes the capital, and head post office; Unkleshwar or Ankleshwar is a post town in British territory and must indicate the postal address for exchange of mails to elsewhere - which should of course have had Indian postage prepaid. Rewa Kanta (note error of spelling) is, as already explained, the larger district administered by the Political Agent. The alternative addresses would cause confusion if used.

The 'registered' sheet should surely have been the highest value rather than only 2 paisa (½ anna). It cannot have been intended to be uprated with adhesives, if the latter are correctly reported as having appeared a year or more later.

All these details suggest the possibility that the letter sheets were essays, produced perhaps in Bombay where Thacker, Spink did much of this type of work; either at the request of the State or with the hope of selling a stock to them. Mint examples are quite common and perhaps the remainder sheets of four were cut up and sold to stamp dealers, artificially ensuring that the lowest value was 'in short supply'. One example of the 4 paisa sheet has an additional private embossing of ALFRED SMITH & SON, LONDON.

Letter sheets were first reported in the 'Philatelic Record' in April 1879. Very few genuinely used examples have so far been recorded; two which have come on the market more than once have bogus addresses in Urdu script and faked 'postmarks'. One, an unframed oval reads, in Gujarati, 'Made in Germany'! - the other is a small cachet in Persian script, which is highly improbable in a Hindu state. (Fig.: 4) Both were illustrated by Haverbeck in Collectors Club Philatelist November 1957, the 2 paisa example reappearing in the first Couvreur sale (March 1981) and is illustrated by Deschl in his catalogue. The other was a 3 paisa, equally improbably 'used'.

Fig. 4

However two have been reported recently which are more convincing. A used example of the 2 paisa sheet was offered in 2000 by a UK dealer, with a note from a former owner stating it was 'one of only two known'. While it carries a part impression of the standard small datestamp of the capital, Nandod, there are a number of unexpected features. It has a 2 annas adhesive affixed - the only example of that value on entire known to me. This is the letter sheet inscribed REGISTERED so it might be deduced that the adhesive paid the fee, though no Register number is filled in. It is locally addressed to village Ratanpur (near Jhagadia town about 30km from the capital).

Fig. 5

This is also the only reported example of internal mail, and Peter Röver points out that at first there was only one post office in the State, at Nandod, which communicated only with British India, though by the time of postal unity in 1886 there was an office at Jhagadia, also others at Bhalod and Vadia. Surprisingly the address is in Urdu, translated into the local Gujarati. The adhesive and the impressed stamp have two faint strikes of a marking not otherwise known from this state: apparently a lozenge of twelve bars, about 21 x 28mm, resembling the early bar obliterations of Hyderabad (see sketch, Fig. 5). If we do not accept this postmark as fully authentic, it does appear to be a genuine use of the letter sheet, though possibly the adhesive was added subsequently and a bogus obliterator applied.

Ed Deschl sends a copy of the 1 paiso letter sheet which has passed through the post - to London, with Indian 4as. and 1a. adhesives on the back and a London arrival mark 1 August 1879. The impressed stamp is not obliterated, but the large Marathi circular date stamp (Fig.3 below) is on the back, with CHANDOD JUL.4 of the Indian office of exchange (Fig. 6).

Fig. 6

Significantly it is addressed to 'Mr. Pemberton Willson & Co., Philatelical Publishers'. E. L. Pemberton, founder of this business, had died in the previous year and his successor A. H. Wilson had just founded, in February 1879, The Philatelic Record which in April had published the first report of the existence of the letter sheets. No doubt he had written off for 'used' examples and this was the result. The first examples, incidentally, were obtained by Mrs. Charlotte Tebay, one of the earliest members of the [Royal] Philatelic Society, London; it is not known whether she had any direct connection with India.

Stamped envelopes in the same design, of 2, 3 and 4 paisa are recorded, and given a date of issue of 1886. They were unknown to early philatelists - Major Evans, the leading expert at the turn of the century, did not know of their existence in the most detailed article yet written on the stamps of the State, in Gibbons Stamp Weekly in 1910.

Fig. 7

Ed Deschl sends a copy of a 3 paisa envelope (Fig. 7) unused, from the same litho stone as the corresponding letter sheet - or a transfer from it. It is apparent that the envelope was not made up by cutting a letter sheet to shape. The knife of the flap - which is at the bottom - is well formed, and Ed tells me that it bears a colourless embossed tress similar to that of Hyderabad type I of his catalogue. The latter is circular and includes crossed branches, not unlike the stamp design itself. Ed suggests a parallel with the numerous contemporary Hyderabad 'stamped to order' envelopes prompted by the demands of dealers: that someone approached Rajpipla with a similar proposition. If they were indeed printed in 1886 this was during the British joint administration which makes it less probable, but I know of no actual evidence for this date. A slightly earlier one during the corruption era would make more sense, even though they were not known to Evans as late as 1910.

Adhesive stamps: The 1 paiso adhesive stamp was lithographed in a sheet of 64 (8x8) in a square design showing a sword with inscription - in Marathi script rather than the Gujarati of the letter sheets - reading RÀJPIPLÀ TAPÀL [post] and HÀNSHÌL (literally tax or profit) in brackets below and the value E-K PAI-SO divided in the four corners.

Fig. 8

In the bottom sheet margin is a tablet with the same inscriptions (Fig. 8), and the complete sheet has an outer frame at top and right (this is absent from the top margin of the sheet in the Tapling Collection in the British Library, but may have been trimmed off).

I do not list in detail any variations of the adhesives, as Evans considered in Gibbons Stamp Weekly that most of the numerous printing flaws on the 1 paiso are not constant, though the vertical perforations varied in their extent. However, Haverbeck considered that the frame lines round each stamp were drawn individually after the litho transfers were made. Peter Röver has three sheets, only one of which is gummed, and each shows some variation in the right-hand vertical line of perforations. In (1) - which is gummed - it continues through to the bottom margin, whereas the other lines stop at the foot of the last row; in (2) only one hole extends below the last row; in (3), two holes extend below the last row, also one extension hole in the preceding line. The last sheet is perf 11/111/2 , a different gauge to the true 11 of the others. My own sheet matches (1) except for further single extension holes below the three central lines. I do not think the latter are significant where line perf. is involved, it is only a matter of accuracy, but the right column variation must be deliberate.

The two issued higher values are taller, in sheets of 20 (4 rows of 5) and quite different in style. Inscriptions are similar to the low value but the 4 annas has SAN (Sansthan or State) before RAJPIPLA. Peter Röver says the 2as. sheet has frame lines at top and left, and the 4as. at bottom and left. There is no obvious reason for these lines; they cannot indicate divisions between several sheets printed from a large stone as in the letter sheets. Haverbeck states that when these stamps were first recorded in 1880, a 2 paisa value was included; and Mr. Pandya in India Post 151 (February 2002) quoted from official records that a half anna [=2 paisa] and 1 anna were in use, though specimens were not sent with the others.

Fig. 9

Derek Bates has a most interesting stamp, litho in black on thin wove, imperf., closely resembling the 1 paiso value but inscribed in the four corners A-RDHO / À-NO, i.e. Half Anna instead of E-K / PAI-SO. Lettering is reasonably accurate and must have been drawn by someone conversant with Marathi script (Fig. 9). It is cut close so that most of the outer frame is missing.

My feeling is that this has its origins in the State; its status is unknown but it may have been intended for issue. Possibly this is the example described in the R. F. Stoney sale in 1965 as 'proof in black', though if so the differing value was not noted. Haverbeck adds that Le Timbre-Poste of May 1884 reported an 8 annas in the design of the 2as., but in the colour of the 4as. This has not been seen, but another document found by Mr. Pandya dated 1883 states that an 8as. was in use. If this ever existed the main use might have been the fee on Money Orders, and the forms would not of course survive.

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