Rajpipla State Post – article by philatelist Shri Prashant Pandya

Being a philatelist and a resident of Rajpipla, I am always attracted by postal history of RajpiplaState. During my studies of it, I gathered very interesting information pertaining to postal arrangements, postage stamps, postal stationeries and postal rates of Rajpipla State.

Postal System

Maharana Gambhirsinhji with court officials and family members

During the reign of Maharana Gambhirsinhji (1860-1897) the State Post emerged and ceased; its origins may have been earlier as every ruler had the need of a postal system for sending official papers, although the Gaekwar’s runners passing through might have performed this duty. During his reign Maharana Gambhirsinhji spent Rs.2,00,000 on a road 34½ miles long from Nandod (New Rajpipla) to Ankleshwar railway station.  The year in which the State Post opened to the public is uncertain, but was in the late 1870s. Volume 6 of the Bombay Gazetteer describing Rewa Kantha, published in February 1880 but of course compiled over a period of time prior to that, states that the post office at Nandod was maintained by the Rajpipla Chief.  Less than six years later, in 1886, the State Post was merged with the Indian Postal System.

During my studies, I had found a communication between Shri Rao Saheb Pitambardas Jethabhai of Baroda State and Rao Saheb Lallubhai Kasandasji of Rajpipla State dated 11th May 1882 and 6th June 1882 stating that the postal business in Rajpipla State was managed by the Durbar (Ruler) of the State and there were only two State post offices, at Nandod and at Jhagadia. There were no British Government post offices at Nandod. Mail was taken to Nandod via Chandod (in Baroda territory) by runners. Runners were paid by the Durbar (Ruler). A karkoon (clerk) was appointed at Chandod by RajpiplaState, who received all the mail destined for Nandod from the Chandod post master, and sent them to Nandod. The letters brought from Nandod were handed over to the post master at Chandod by rendering accounts for them.

Unpaid letters for Nandod were delivered to the clerk of RajpiplaState who was supposed to collect the amount as endorsed by the postal authority, to be paid to the post master. Ordinary parcels, registered letters and money orders were also delivered to the Clerk at Chandod, who passed receipts for them and procured receipts from the addressees, which were later handed over to the post master. Insured parcels were not delivered to the clerk but the addressees were called to Chandod to receive them.

The post from Nandod to Jhagadia was carried by the State halkaras and delivered in Nandod as well as Jhagadia by state postmen, while in the villages, appointed runners carried out the task.

Postage Stamps

Rajpipla State four anna stampThe communication dated 6th June 1882 also states that postage stamps of ¼ anna, ½ anna, 1 anna, 2 anna and 4 annas values were in use in Rajpipla State. However only three stamps of denomination 1 paiso, 2 anna and 4 anna are known to us. It also states that postage stamps of greater value than 4 annas were not used in the State. Contrary to this statement. another communication dated 16th January 1883 from Nandod addressed to Mr. Hari B. Wagle, head clerk, Rev. Comm. Office, Baroda states that there were stamps of ¼ anna, 2 anna, 4 anna and 8 annas in the State. Stamps in denominations of ½ anna, 1 anna and 8 anna are never seen by us.

The first adhesive postage stamp, the 1 paiso, was also 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 a,b,c) Sheets of one paiso (8 x 8) and two anna (4 x 5) adhesives has been shown  in fig: 1 d and 1 e.

Postal Stationery

Before the adhesives, however, postal stationery letter sheets appeared, although several peculiarities of detail suggest they were never or little used. Letter sheets were first reported in the Philatelic Record in April 1879. 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 300 mm, 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 appeared 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 printed. 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 of about 16 x 12 inches, 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. Denomination of 1 paiso is logical because there was postage rate of 3 pies (1 Paisa or ¼ anna) and would have been required in much larger quantities than the others. But the values 2, 3, and 4 paisa are illogical. No one has yet offered any ideas on the improbable range of denominations. One mint example of the 2 paisa sheet was recorded in 1902 on yellow paper; this may be a proof impression. It is now in Mr. Ajeet Singhjee’s collection. There may be proofs of other three denominations since four values were all printed together on one sheet but so far proofs of other denominations on yellow paper are not known.

The circular design in letter sheets has the value in centre, with RÀJPIPLÀ DÀK in Gujarati at the top and crossed branches at the foot. The “I” vowel of RAJPIPLA is wrongly written as the short vowel, whereas the adhesive stamps show it correctly as a long sound. Also the adhesives use the word TAPÀL instead of DÀK for post. 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.: 2)

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 / ANKLESHWAR GUJRÀT.

Nandod denotes the capital of the State, and head post office; there is no logic behind the use of the name Unkleshwar (Ankleshwar) because Ankleshwar was in British territory. As described earlier, mail from Nandod to other territories was exchanged from Chandod but it is not certain whether mail was also exchanged from Ankleshwar, and hence Unkleshwar mentioned on letter sheet. Again the question is why it has not been mentioned on all four letter sheets.  The ‘registered’ sheet should surely have been the highest value rather than only 2 paisa (½ anna) because the registration fees were two anna per letter. It cannot have been intended to be upgraded with the use of adhesives. Rewa Kanta (note error of spelling) also mentioned on sheet, as already explained, was the larger district administered by the Political Agent.

A State printing press was installed in 1883 under Maharana Gambhirsinhji but that was too late for the postal paper to have been printed locally. 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.

Very few genuinely used examples have so far been recorded, two of which have come into the market more than once with bogus addresses in Urdu script and fake ‘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 HinduState. (Fig.: 3). Both were illustrated by Haverbeck in the Collectors’ Club Philatelist of November 1957, the 2 paisa example reappearing in the first Couvreur sale (March 1981) and illustrated by Ed Deschl in his catalogue. The other was a 3 paisa, equally improbably ‘used’.

Two others, however, which have been reported are more convincing. A used example of the 2 paisa sheet was offered in 2000 by a UK dealer. Earlier it appeared in a small German auction. Perhaps it is an envelope made out of Letter Sheet. It carries a part impression of the standard small date stamp of the capital, Nandod, and the same date stamp appears at the back. There are a number of unexpected features on it. It has a 2 anna adhesive affixed – the only example of that value 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 30 km from the capital). 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 21mm x 28mm, resembling the early bar obliterations of Hyderabad (Fig. 4). 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.

Example of 1 paiso letter sheet is known 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 Nagari circular date stamp is on the back, with CHANDOD JUL.4 of the Indian office of exchange (Fig. 5).

Significantly it is addressed to ‘Mr. Pemberton Wilson & 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.

Ed Deschi and Higgins & Gage in their catalogues have made a mention of Envelopes printed of laid paper in the denomination of 2 paisa, 3 paisa and 4 paisa with designs and write up similar to that of Letter Sheets. It is presumed that envelopes were printed with the same stone. Though there is mention of three denominations, 2 paisa envelopes are not known by any philatelist in the last 50 years. Probably only two examples each of 3 paisa and 4 paisa mint envelopes exist. Example of 3 paisa envelope is shown in Fig. 6.

Forgeries of the adhesives

Crude forgeries exist at least of the 1p and 2as., with faked postmarks. The 1p forgery is not perforated, and the 2as. is perf 11 instead of the correct gauge 12½. Derek Bates has further forgeries, some more close to the originals than my own: two copies of the 1 paiso are reasonably accurate, but both show a constant break at right of the top outer frame and the lettering is coarser (Fig.7a). Imperf forgery in green colour is also known (Fig. 7b).

The perforation is about right but the margins between stamps are too wide so the overall dimensions of entire stamps are too large – about 23 x 25mm. Both have a rectangular obliterator of seven bars with R in the centre – in English, like Renouf type 8, not the Nagri script of the genuine.

Imperf single die forgeries of the 2as. and 4as. are on toned wove and should fool no one, and one of the 4as. from the same die is roughly perf about 11 and shows a trace of an obliteration. I suspect these are modern productions.

Unissued Designs

Stanley Gibbon’s stock lists of November 1994, illustrated a series of six stamps inscribed in English only: RAJPIPLA 1 ANNA POSTAGE, described as “c1900 bicoloured essays, with portrait of Gambhir Singhji in black, perf, 111/2. Six examples, litho to a high standard, in different frame colours, each with green underprint SPECIMEN, some with part gum. The frame design shows a steamship and steam train in the upper corners, previously unknown to us.” (Fig. 8).

Two similar stamps were offered in the second Couvreur sale (R. Lowe, Sept. 1981). H.D.S. Haverback in his article “An Hitherto Unreported Essay for the State of Rajpipla” published in the Philatelic Journal of India, October 1977. has mentioned two examples, one in ultramarine and another in pale lime green colour. In my collection I do have examples in light orange and light purple colours too. Haverback states that the intricacy and ornamentation of frames design suggest that they belong to the last thirty years of the nineteenth century.

Postal Rates

For letter weighing 5 tolas and under, the postage charge was 3 pies (1 Paisa or ¼ anna). For every increase of 5 tolas additional quarter of an anna was charged. For unpaid letter, double the amount of paid letter was charged.

For registered letters over and above the postal charges, two annas per letter were charged as registration Fees.

For parcels, one anna for every 20 tolas was charged and additional one anna was charged for every 20 tolas of weight.

For money order amounting Rupees one hundred, eight anna fees were charged in the own territory.

Unpaid letters from the RajpiplaState were not allowed to go outside the State unless these were affixed with Rajpipla postage stamp. These letters when received into British post offices were reckoned as unpaid letters. Thus both Rajpipla postage stamps and British postage stamps were required on letters sent from Nandod to British or other territories.

For the duly paid letters sent from another territory to Nandod, the Nandod post master was charging ¼ of an anna towards State postage and if the letter was unpaid 1 anna 6 pies were being charged towards Imperial and State postage.

In Chandod there was no letter box placed by the RajpiplaState. The clerk deputed there by the State had no right to register letters or to fill up money orders or send bangy parcels.

Service letters were sent in Nandod free of charge by superscribing on the cover the name of the sender and his designation. British postage stamps were obtained from the Chandod post office and were sold in Nandod.

Covers and Postal Markings

Covers are scarce; a sale catalogue at Harmers of London on 10 February 2000 in which two were offered said there are ‘possibly less than ten recorded’ but a total of sixteen have now been seen or reported, in addition to the two used items of stationery described above though it is apparent that the same ones recur over the years.

The normal obliterator (postal mark) is a six barred type similar to the contemporary Indian ones listed as ‘type 17’ but with R-1 (Fig. 9) in Nagri script between the bars. Fig. 10 shows its use on a 1 paiso adhesive on the back of another Indian 1/2a stamped envelope, again of the 1877 type; alongside is the small date stamp and the Indian PO date stamp of CHANDOD where mails were exchanged. Like most known covers this was addressed to Bombay.

I have acquired a cover, (Fig. 11) which unusually has the 1 paiso adhesive, showing the usual obliterator, affixed on the address side alongside the pair of Indian ½ a. adhesives, which themselves have the round barred obliterator B widely used in the Bombay Circle. This is the only cover known to Baroda, and is also unusual in being a folded letter rather than an Indian stationery cover. No date stamp is visible.

Rajpipla State Stamps and Stationery had the distinction of philatelic world repute and even today are held in high esteem as prized possessions of philatelists. I am fortunate to be a resident of Rajpipla, and of philatelic background, in possession of a few rare philatelic material of RajpiplaState.

References:

  1. David Padgham, “RajpiplaState Post”, India Post #145 (August 2000).
  2. Major Edward B. Evans: ‘The Stamps of some of the Native States of India: Rajpipla’ – Gibbons Stamp
  3. Weekly, London, 15 January 1910 pages 60-64.
  4. HarrisonS.D. Haverbeck: ‘Rajpipla’ – Collectors Club Philatelist (New York), November 1957, pages 295-301.
  5. HarrisonS.D. Haverbeck: ‘ An hitherto unreported essay for the State of Rajpipla’ – The Philatelic Journal of India, October 1977, page 238
  6. E. F. Deschl: Indian States Postal Stationery Listing (USA 1994).
  7. Higgins & Gage: World Postal Stationery Catalogue, Section 9.

Prashant Pandya

(Prashant H. Pandya, A-5 Yoginagar Township, Near Gayatrinagar, Gotri, Vadodara – 390 001, Gujarat. E-mail: edesk@prashantpandya.com)

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One thought on “Rajpipla State Post – article by philatelist Shri Prashant Pandya

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