Category Archives: Philatelic History

Princely States that were Once the Splendor of India

At the time of the British withdrawal, 565 princely states were officially recognised in the Indian subcontinent,  apart from thousands of taluqarszamindaris and jagirs. In 1947, princely states numbering 555 covered 48% of area of pre-Independent India and constituted 28% of its population.

Mysore State, Krishnaraja Wadiyar

The most important states had their own British Political Residencies:

Indore State

HyderabadMysore and Travancore in the South followed by Jammu & Kashmir and Sikkim in the Himalayas, and Indore in Central India. Gun-salutes were often given for personal distinctions of the ruler rather than the importance of the state and varied from time to time. The most prominent among those – roughly a quarter of the total – had the status of a salute state, one whose ruler was honoured by receiving a set number of gun salutes on ceremonial occasions, ranging from nine to 21. Rulers of salute states entitled to a gun salute of eleven guns and above received from the British the style of His/Her Highness; while the Nizam of Hyderabad had the unique style of His Exalted Highness.

The princely states varied greatly in status, size, and wealth; the premier 21-gun salute states of Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir were each over 200,000 km2 in size, or slightly larger than the whole of Great Britain. In 1941, Hyderabad had a population of over 16 million,, while Jammu and Kashmir had a population of slightly over 4 million,

Maharaja Morvi State

comparable to that of Switzerland. At the other end of the scale, the non-salute principality of Lawa covered an area of 49 km with a population of just below 3,000. Some two hundred of the lesser states had an area of less than 25 km2 (10 mi2).  At the time of Indian independence in 1947, Hyderabad had annual revenues of over Rs. 9 crore (roughly £6.75 million/$27.2 million in 1947 values, approximately £240 million/$290 million in 2014 values), and its own army, airline, telecommunication system, railway, postal system, currency, radio service and a major public university; the tiny state of Lawa had annual revenues of just Rs. 28,000 (£2100/$8463 in 1947 values, £73,360/$89,040 in 2014 values).[

Baroda State

The era of the princely states effectively ended with Indian independence in 1947. By 1950, almost all of the principalities had acceded to either India or Pakistan. The accession process was largely peaceful, except in the cases of Jammu and Kashmir (whose ruler opted for independence but decided to accede to India following an invasion by Pakistan-based forces), Hyderabad (whose ruler opted for total independence in 1947, followed a year later by the police action and annexation of the state by India), Junagadh (whose ruler acceded to Pakistan, but was annexed by India).[10] and Kalat (whose ruler opted for independence in 1947, followed in 1948 by the state’s annexation


Chinese Expeditionary Force of India

The Chinese Expeditionary Force of India

A Chinese group called the Boxers by peasants in northern China formed “The Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists” in 1898, who revolted against the imperialist. Their policies were against their Christian missionary evangelism. The Dowager Empress Cixi supported them and the foreign legations in Peking (now Beijing) came under siege in June 1900. An eight nation alliance of western powers assembled a force of 30,000 soldiers, mainly made up from the Indian army called the China Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.)  was effective in ending the 55 day siege and defeating the Boxer rebellion. The final peace settlement was signed in September 1901 and this allowed foreign troops to occupy key Chinese cities to safeguard the ex-patriot civilians.

This force was sufficiently large to justify the establishment of a field post office system to handle the mail. Initially Indian stamps were used on outgoing letters, from the arrival of the troops on July 23 1900, and mail thus franked is rare. On August 16 1900 Indian stamps and postal stationery overprinted C.E.F. were introduced to combat currency speculation, their validity being restricted to use by the Field Force. The postal rates were the same as those prevailing in India and the rate to India was the same as the Indian internal rate. Official stamps were not overprinted as they were not for public use. A base office was located at Liu Kung Tau (Wei-Hai-Wei), which was later transferred to Hong Kong. Other bases were at Tientsin and Tonku. There was provision for 19 field offices, with FPO numbers from 1 to 20, though some may not have been opened. 

In 1906 the majority of the Chinese Expeditionary Force was withdrawn from China and after that date only 4 field post offices continued to function. The final withdrawal of C.E.F. troops did not take place until November 1923. 


History of Jamaica on Coins and Stamps

The first inhabitants of Jamaica probably came from islands to the east in two waves of migration. About 600 CE the culture known as the “Redware people” arrived; little is known of them, however, beyond the red pottery they left. Alligator Pond in Manchester Parish and Little River in St. Ann Parish are among the earliest known sites of these people, who lived near the coast and extensively hunted turtles and fish.

ARAWAKThe second wave of inhabitants of Jamaica are the Arawaks, also called Tainos. They came from South America 2,500 years ago and named the island Xaymaca, which meant “”land of wood and water”. The Arawaks were a mild and simple people by nature. Physically, they were light brown in color, short and well-shaped with coarse, black hair. Their faces were broad and their noses flat.

The first known inhabitants of Jamaica, the Caribbean Arawaks used Jamaican cassava as a staple part of their diet which originated in Brazil and Paraguay. Jamaican cassava also grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.

JAMAICA DISCOVERY 1921The main thrust of exploration of the New World came from Portugal, but Spain was quick to follow.  In 1492, Ferdinand II and Isabella I helped the Italian navigator, Christopher Columbus, to sail in search of the New World. Columbus is believed to be the first European to reach Jamaica when he landed on the island on May 5, 1494, during his second voyage to the Americas. Columbus returned to Jamaica during his fourth voyage while sailing around the Caribbean nearly a year when a storm beached his ships in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica, on June 25, 1503. For a year Columbus and his men remained stranded on the island, finally departing in June 1504.

The Spanish crown granted the island to the Columbus family the island was insignificant in the colonial scene and was valued chiefly as a supply base for food and animal hides. In 1509 Juan de Esquivel founded the first permanent European settlement, the town of Sevilla la Nueva (New Seville), on the north coast.

KINGS HOUSEIn 1534 the capital was moved to Villa de la Vega (later Santiago de la Vega), now called Spanish Town. This settlement served as the capital of both Spanish and English Jamaica, from its founding in 1534 until 1872, after which the capital was moved to Kingston.

The Spanish enslaved many of the Taino but some escaped while most died from European diseases and overwork. The Spaniards also in the meantime introduced the first African slaves. By the early 17th century virtually no Taino remained in the region and population of the island was about 3,000, including a small number of African slaves. Disappointed in the lack of the magic metal, gold on the isle, the Spanish mainly used Jamaica as a military base to for their colonizing efforts in the mainland America.

coomon wealth englandIn late 1654, the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth England Oliver Cromwell launched the Western Design armada against Spain’s colonies in the Caribbean. English force then sailed for Jamaica, the only Spanish West Indies island that did not have any significant defence. In May 1655, around 7,000 English soldiers landed near Jamaica’s Spanish Town capital and soon overwhelmed the small number of Spanish troops (at the time, Jamaica’s entire population only numbered around 2,500). Spain lost the Battle of Ocho Rios in 1657 and the Battle of Rio Nuevo in 1658. For England, Jamaica was the base to the heart of the Spanish Empire,’ although in fact it was a possession of little economic value then. England gained formal possession of Jamaica from Spain in 1670 through the Treaty of Madrid. Removing the pressing need for constant defense against Spanish attack, this change served as an incentive to planting.

Cromwell increased the island’s white population by sending indentured servants and criminals to Jamaica. But tropical diseases kept the number of whites under 10,000 until about 1740. Although the slave population in the 1670s and 1680s never exceeded 10,000, by the end of the seventeenth century imports of slaves increased the black population to at least five times the number of whites. Thereafter, Jamaica’s blacks did not increase significantly in number until well into the eighteenth century when the slave population  increased from 45,000 to over 300,000.

JAMAICA 1956 SLAVE TRADEAbolition Act 1833 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom abolished slavery throughout the British Empire (with the exceptions “of the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company”, the “Island of Ceylon” and “the Island of Saint Helena”). However these two exceptions were eliminated in 1843. In Jamaica, Abolition of Slave Trade 1838 was officially announced at the Kings House in Kingston. 

JAMAICA QV 1869 1The first coins of Jamaica under Queen Victoria were issued in 1869 as the bronze coins introduced into the British coinage in the 1860s were not suitable for the West Indies. The use of cupro-nickel had been considered during the trials for the British coinage by Thomas Graham, renowned chemist and Master of the Mint from 1855–1869, and Jamaica provided an opportunity to test the new alloy. The first coins in cupro-nickel were released for this purpose in Jamaica and, like aluminium, this metal became a success for coinage all over the world.

KG V 1912 WAR STAMPWhen the World War broke out in in 1914, the Africans in the New World had acclimatized to the British institutions, culture and language to the extent of supporting Britain. In fact their response was so overwhelming the British War Office was concerned enough try and curtail the number of Black Africans in the army.  On 19 May 1915 King George V, approved to raise a West Indian contingent on during the World War.

KGV 1918 COINAt the end of he war when the contingents started returning to Jamaica in 1919 the state services were poorly organised to offer
any support to the returning Black American Soldiers. With the already  prevailing poor socioeconomic conditions  when the soldiers began to arrive they quickly joined the wave of worker’s protests resulting from a severe economic crisis produced by the war. The political climate was right for emergence of black nationalist ideology espoused by CONTINGENT 1919black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey and others. Disenchanted soldiers and angry workers unleashed a series of protest actions and riots in a number of territories including Jamaica, Grenada and especially in British Honduras.

November 20, 1944 was an important day in the history of Jamaica when nominations for the first-ever elections held under universal adult suffrage in Jamaica took place. That election was held on December 14, 1944. This meant that all adults had the NEW CONSTUTUTION 1944right to vote. Prior to 1944, one had to pay at least ten shillings tax per year or have property to be able to vote. 

The end of World War II brought reality of occupied lands leading to decolonization across the world. British Government and local politicians were in long drawn out state of transition of Jamaica from a crown colony into an independent state. After Norman Manley was elected Chief Minister in 1955, he sped up the process of decolonization via several constitutional amendments. Under Manley, Jamaica entered the West Indies Federation, a political union of colonial Caribbean islands which if united would have brought ten British colonial territories into a
BUSTAMANTE 70 Csingle, independent state. However within Jamaican participation in the Federation was unpopular, and the results of the 1961 West Indies referendum held by Premier Manley cemented the colony’s withdrawal from the union in 1962. Further with departure of Trinidad and Tobago the West Indies Federation collapsed later that year.

 JAMAICA independence 1962The elections held in 1962 resulted in  Alexander Bustamante’s premiership in April of that year. On 19 July 1962, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the act leading to the JAMAICA INDEPENDENCE 2Dindependence of Jamaica on  6 August in the same year. On this day, following 307 years of British Colonialism, the Union Jack was ceremoniously lowered and replaced by the Jamaican flag throughout the country. Princess Margaret opened the first session of the Parliament of Jamaica on behalf of her sister Queen Elizabeth II and the  first Jamaica Independence Festival was held.

History of Sri Lanka through Coins and Stamps

The trade and cultural ties to other countries of the world could be traced through the coins as old as 2000 years found in Sri Lanka.   Among hoards of foreign coins found in the most unlikely places in the island such as Sigiriya,  the site of the citadel of Kassayapa, the sleepy village of Kantharodai in Jaffna. Nearly 3000 Roman coins excavated nearthe Sīgiriya site suggest a Roman connection during early Christian era.  Most of the coins found here belong to the period from Constantine the great (r. 306-337) to (Flavius) Honorius (reigned 393-423), which predate Kassapa (reigned ca 477-495) by nearly a century. The earliest Roman coin found in the region dates to about 317, nearly 150 years before Kassapa founded Sīgiriya. From the above evidence it is likely that Kassapa did not choose Sīgiriya by chance and it was already a hub of culture and trade. Some gold coins issued during the reign of King

Vijayabāhu currently exhibited at the British Museum, as well as in the Colombo Museum follow the types of Raja Raja Cholan when he was in possession of Pollonnaruva.

The relationship between the Tamils and the Sinhalese is also seen through the ancient coins in Sri Lanka.  The The Mullaitivu coins (kahāpaṇas) as old as 200 BC arguably attributed to Eḷāra (Ellalan, bear a tree with branches (probably Sacred Bo Tree) on one face, and the bull (probably the Sacred Bull of the Hindus) suggesting that Eḷāra respected both religions.  Mahāvaṃsa itself (XXI, 26) reveals the earliest date of kahāpaṇa (coins) in Lanka when Eḷāra spent 15,000 kahāpaṇas to repair a  Buddhist stupa.

Known as Ceylon until it became a republic in 1972, the island had the most eye-catching colors of the Victorian Era in stamps.

Sri Lanka Post has a long history of 209 years, dating back to 1798, when the colonial Dutch rulers started five post offices in the Maritime Districts under their control. In 1799, they published the first postal regulations and postage rates. The Dutch East India Company operated the Postal service, which was not meant for the public but for official use.

1861 ceylonThe first postmaster by the British was appointed in 1802 and hand stamps were first supplied in 1813. The British took control of the whole island by conquering the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815 at the time of reign of King George III. Although horse drawn mail delivery commenced in Ceylon around 1832, the postage stamps were issued only on  1 April 1857.
VICTORIAN CEYLONThe first Stamp features a portrait of Queen Victoria and is brown in color and of 6 pence value used to send a half ounce letter from Ceylon to England. Eight more stamps were issued in year 1857, all featuring the portrait of Queen Victoria. One of the 5 stamps that were issued on 23 April 1859 is considered to be the most valuable stamp in Sri Lanka: it is a 4 pence with a dark pink color known as the ‘Dull Rose.
CEYLON WAR STAMPSA week after the First World War ended in 1918, Ceylon under King George V  adopted war stamps when all postal rates were increased to defray war expenditure. The 2c, 3c, and 5 c were all overprinted “WAR STAMP” in two lines, and the 5 cent was also overprinted with an additional “ONE CENT” with a line struck through the original value. There are a number of varieties in the overprints, such as double and inverted overprints.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         CEYLON 1972Sri Lanka later is the only country to include details in a stamp in three languages viz. Sinhala, Tamil and English. The first stamps marked Sri Lanka were issued on 22 May 1972.
The first ever souvenir sheet of Sri Lanka was issued on 5 February 1966 on the topic ‘Typical Birds of Ceylon’. This sheet was reissued on 15 September 1967 to commemorate the 1st National Stamp Exhibition of Sri Lanka, overprinted ‘FIRST NATIONAL STAMP EXHIBITION 1967’.

The Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979


Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919-1980)

At the time of revolution which first took root in 1977 Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919 – 1980) was head of the state as Shah of Iran. However he was not of royal descent but a son of an army commander Rezā Shāh (1878 – 1944) who engineered a coup with the assistance of British, and deposed Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar dynasty in 1925. Having established a constitutional monarchy Pahlavi was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on 16 September 1941. His son Mohammed Reza Shah followed as the next Shaw, and initiated a strong policy of modernization of Iran supported by the United States and the rest of the west.

IRAN 1912 225 Centuries of Iranian Empire

During Shah’s regime Iran marked the anniversary of 2,500 years of continuous monarchy since the founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great. The Shah also changed the benchmark of the Iranian calendar from the hegira to the beginning of the Persian Empire, measured from Cyrus the Great’s coronation. He also introduced the ‘White Revolution’, a series of economic, social and political reforms with the proclaimed intention of transforming Iran into a global power and modernizing the nation by nationalizing certain industries and granting women suffrage.

Final decisive Year of Revolution 1979

However as a secular Muslim, PERSIA GOLD 1882 2Mohammad Reza gradually lost support from the Shi’a clergy of Iran as well as the working class, particularly due to his strong policy of modernization, secularization, conflict with the traditional class of merchants known as bazaari, relations with Israel, and corruption issues surrounding himself, his family, and the ruling elite. In order to counteract the revolution additional controversial policies were enacted, including the banning of the communist Tudeh Party, and a general suppression of political dissent by Iran’s intelligence agency, SAVAK. According to official statistics, Iran had as many as 2,200 political prisoners in 1978, a number which multiplied rapidly as the evolution took hold.

Several other factors contributed to strong opposition to the Shah among certain groups within Iran, the most notable of which were United States and UK support for his regime, clashes with Islamists and increased communist activity. Demonstrations against the Shah commenced in October 1977, developing into a campaign of civil resistance by secular and religious elements intensified in January 1978. Between August and December 1978 strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country. The Shah left Iran for exile on January 16, 1979, as the last Persian monarch, leaving his duties to a regency council and an opposition-based prime minister. Ayatollah Khomeini who was exiled for 15 years, was invited back to Iran by the government, and returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians. The royal reign collapsed shortly after on February 11 when guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting, bringing Khomeini to official power.  Iran voted by national referendum to become an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979, and to approve a new theocratic-republican constitution whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country, in December 1979.

The revolution was unusual for the surprise it created throughout the world as it lacked many of the customary causes of revolution (defeat at war, a financial crisis, peasant rebellion, or disgruntled military, and blood shed). The revolution occurred in a nation that was enjoying relatively good wealth and prosperity.  The outcome resulted in the exile of many Iranians, and replaced a pro-Western semi-absolute monarchy with an anti-Western authoritarian theocracy  based on the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists (or velayat-e faqih). It was a relatively non-violent revolution, and helped to redefine the meaning and practice of modern revolutions.

History of Iran on Coins and Stamps


French India, The last of the Maritime powers to reach India

Hindu Deity, Brahma, French India

France was the last of the major European maritime powers of the 17th century to take a foot-hold in East India trade. Six decades after the foundation of the English and Dutch East India companies (in 1600 and 1602 respectively), and at a time when both companies were profiting on the shores of India, the French still did not have a viable trading company or a single permanent establishment in the East.

French India – Indie Francaise 1 Copper Doudou – ca 1715-1835
Établissements français dans l’Inde 1892

French India, formally the Établissements français dans l’Inde (“French establishments in India”), was a French colony comprising geographically separate enclaves on the Indian subcontinent. The possessions were originally acquired by the French East India Company beginning in the second half of the 17th century, and were de facto incorporated into the Union of India in 1950 and 1954. The French establishments included Pondichéry, Karikal and Yanaon on the Coromandel Coast, Mahé on the Malabar Coast and Chandernagor in Bengal. French India also included several loges (“lodges”, subsidiary trading stations) in other towns, but after 1816 the loges had little commercial importance and the towns to which they were attached came under British administration.

By 1950, the total area measured 510 km2 (200 sq miles), of which 293 km2 (113 sq miles) belonged to the territory of Pondichéry. In 1936, the population of the colony totaled 298,851 inhabitants, of which 63% FRENCH INDIA 1914(187,870) lived in the territory of Pondichéry



Bloody Birth of Pakistan, and its early Philatelics

INDIA PAKISTAN OVERPRINT X2 1947Prior to independence in 1947, the territory of modern Pakistan was a part of the British Indian Empire. Before this period the region was consecutively a part of Mauryan Empire, the Persian Achaemenid Empire, Alexander of Macedonia, the Arab Umayyad Caliphate, the Mongol Empire, the Mughal Empire, the Durrani Empire, the last being British Empire.  

Pakistan’s modern political history began with the birth of the All India Muslim League in 1906 to protect “Muslim interests, amid neglect and under-pakistan overprintrepresentation” and to oppose Congress and growing Hindu nationalism in return the British Raj would decide to grant local self-rule. On 29 December 1930, philosopher Sir Muhammad Iqbal called for an autonomous new state in “northwestern India for Indian Muslims”.. INDIA PAKISTANMuhammad Ali Jinnah espoused the Two Nation Theory and led the League to adopt the Lahore Resolution of 1940, demanding the formation of independent states in the East and the West of British India. Eventually, a successful movement led by Jinnah resulted in the partition of India and independence from Britain, on 14 August 1947.  

The border between India and Pakistan was drawn right down the middle of the province, between Lahore and Amritsar. On both sides, people scrambled to get onto the “right” side of the border, or were driven from their homes by their erstwhile neighbors. At least 10 million people fled north or south, depending upon their faith, and more than 500,000 were killed in the chaos. Trains full of refugees were set upon by militants from both sides, and all the passengers massacred.

On August 14, 1947, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was founded. The following day, the Republic of India was established to the south. On January 30, 1948, Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated by a young Hindu radical for his support of a multi-religious state.

PAKISTAN 1956Initial stamps of independent Pakistan were overprinted definitive issues of British India. Initially a dominion after independence, Pakistan adopted a new constitution in 1956, becoming an Islamic republic. A civil war in 1971 resulted in the secession of East Pakistan as the new country of Bangladesh which in turn used the overprinted Pakistan definitive issues for postage during March 26, 1971 to April 30, 1973.  These interesting local overprints are not listed in any of the major catalogs, and there are many machine printed and hand-stamped varieties of these local overprints issued for cities and towns throughout pakistan bangaladeshpakistan bangaladesh 2Bangladesh, especially those near the Pakistan-Bangladesh border controlled by the Liberation Army exist. 

Stamps of India, Pakistan and Bangaladesh

Birth of a New Nation, India

INDIA FIRST 3India was a blend of most diverse culture of 360 million people, speaking over 1000 languages, enriched by 560 Princely States of Maharajahs  when the miracle happened on August 15 1947 to solidify them in to One Nation. The transition from British Raj to Republic of India created the biggest democracy in the world.

The first set of 3 stamps was issued on 21st November 1947. The stamps were printed at Nasik Security Press with lithographic method. All the three stamps have become rare now after 70 years after issue.

The 1950 coinage was introduced on 15th August, 1950 and represented the first coins of Republic India. The portrait of British King George VI was replaced by the Lion Capital of the Ashoka Pillar. A corn sheaf replaced the Tiger on the one Rupee coin. In some ways this symbolised a shift in focus to progress and 

INDIA 2 ANNA 1950 1prosperity. Indian motifs were incorporated on other coins.  The monetary system was largely retained unchanged with one Rupee consisting of 16 Annas.












Today we celebrate the First Coins and the First Stamps of this nation at Antiques International.