|History Of Postal Service And Postage Stamps Of Bangladesh|
|The Early Days|
In the dawn of civilization, one of the earliest innovations of the Homo sapiens, is to convey their feelings and ideas through sounds. Later on the sound gave birth to signs, which in turn became scripts and alphabets. Since the dawn of civilization, human beings used to convey messages from one place to another by making fire and smoke, beating drums, sending pigeons and human messengers on foot, on horse or camels and by boat.
The word ‘post’ comes from a Latin word ‘positus’, which means ‘a fixed station or position’. Early rulers used set up services of stations dedicated to relay official correspondences and to speed up messengers on their way with fresh transport.
Postal system dates back to thousands of years, even perhaps to about 4,500 years ago, when by 2,500 B.C., the Sumerians of the ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq) developed the unique system of writing impressed on clay bricks and tablets. They used to inscribe messages, when those are tender and dried them hard on fire. They used to make pockets or envelope in the same manner and inscribed receivers name and description and a short summary of the message. These pockets or envelopes were introduced to protect the letter and to conceal the content.
Similar methods were found to be followed by the successors of the Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians and the Persians.
In China, posts for delivering official documents existed more than 2,500 years ago. They used wooden chips, metal plates and in later years, silk cloths. The Chinese discovered papers as early as about 2,000 years ago, which revolutionized the method of writing, as well as conveying messages.
The Egyptians used papyrus as early as 200 BC. The Romans and the Greeks used hides of goat and sheep during the last century BC.
Modern Postal Service of Indian Sub-continent has a record of glorious service to the nation for the last 160 years since 1837. As no official records are kept preserved so far but left here and there uncared for and lost in time, the study and compilation work on the historical account of the post office of our country has become a difficult task and a continuous process for many years to come.
So far, very little have been written about the postal system of the early days during the reign of the great kings and emperors. There are some authenticated documents available during the rule of the British. Though much of which lie with the libraries of the United Kingdom and nobody ever ventured to search for those.
There are some more regular documents to be found during the Pakistan period, though history of those 24 years (1947-1971) are full of deprivation. Then we have our greatest Liberation War, which is full of stories, derived from blood and sweat, full of sorrows and eye drops, of hatred and struggle. We also have the story of stamp and postal history even, during this Liberation War, the role of the Revolutionary Government into it, role of the Freedom Fighters and the people. There are stories about what measures have been taken after the liberation and the post-liberation activities towards stability?
Thirty five years is a very short span of time for a nation, but if we do not ensure its proper records and write them chronologically and publish it for our future generation, we will be making great harm to them. I hope others who have in their possession such more information shall come forward and make this subject richer. There is no doubt at all that history of postal service in particular and history of communication in general, is as important as the history of a nation itself, it is an integral part of the main history of the nation.
Since independence, Bangladesh did not have a stamp catalogue of its own. Almost every stamp issuing country has its own stamp catalogue with their own explanation of each stamp, view of pricing and it also represent local market price.
In 1986, a tiny attempt was made by a lone collector, and then in 1988 a more refined publication under the banner of Bangladesh Institute of Philatelic Studies (BIPS). A more extensive publication came into existence in 1995, again by BIPS. All these publications were, to speak frankly were experimental.
It is very difficult to publish a national country catalogue regularly, because this type of publication needs a good budget, whereas its market is not very much encouraging. Practically it should be subsidized. Only for the love to the Country and to philately we have taken up this Herculean task. We hope our readers will not be very critics.
In the following chapters these matters along with all other relevant matters will be dealt with in short, because we have so little information to collect and compile. A chapter will also be included in short about the development during the last thirty years of Bangladesh.
I extend my heart-felt thanks to the journalists, philatelic journalists and philatelists of the world, who informed the people, in 1971, that a new country is born and that it needs support. Especially, I want to remember, with great reverence, the contributions of late Mr. Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, Mr. John Stonehouse MP and designer of first eight-stamps of Bangladesh, Mr. Biman Mullik in publishing the first stamps of Bangladesh, in July 1971.
I also want to thank M/s. Format International Security Printers Ltd., UK, because they were the printers of first stamps of Bangladesh.
I am grateful to the Government of Bangladesh, in general, the Ministry of Posts and Bangladesh Post Office, in particular, for issuing a good number of beautiful postage stamps for this country, since the liberation of Bangladesh, without which, we should not have been collecting and studying them.
I am grateful to researchers and workers of Scott Stamp Catalogue, USA, Stanley Gibbons Stamps Catalogue, UK and all other stamp catalogues of the world, for enlisting the stamps of Bangladesh in their catalogues. It was their routine job, no doubt, but I am thankful to them, because we think they deserve it.
This little country of 55,165 square kilometers, with millions of problems, intrigue, crisis, chaos and confusion, is so very beautiful, bountiful and picturesque, that from time immemorial, this little deltoid region endured much oppression by the plunderers from home and abroad. Still, the country extends its loving outstretched hands to everyone who loves this country.
I thank all the readers, researchers and philatelists, who will be keeping this book in their possession. I believe, the heart of Bangladesh will be there with them.
THE EARLY DAYS
There can be no doubt that India, one of the seats of ancient civilization, should also have its postal service in any form from very early days. But no such authentic information is available from any source. Besides, riverine nature of Northern India, where most of the civilization flourished in the early days, with its innumerable rivulets, marshes, creeks and swamps was not suitable for better and widespread system to be developed. Its people, at that time, were not of much touring type and remained in close contacts with their kith and kin, which do no necessitate them to develop better communication.
There were stories of having ‘dut’ (ambassador/informer) and his influence and activities in the era of ‘Mahabharata’ or ‘Ramayana’ and other epics of this country. In all the stories, the influence of these 'duts' was remarkable. Under no circumstances they were executed, tortured or imprisoned. There were stories of swans, monkeys, birds, clouds etc. working as messengers in many literatures of different time. During the time of Gautama Buddha, there were small city states bordering Nepal and north-eastern India - Lichhabi, Kapilabastu, etc. they were sometimes friendly to their neighbours and sometimes warring. Therefore, they needed informers (dut?) to keep the rulers informed about the activities of the neighbouring ruler, whether they are planning for a feud. In later years Bengal had very good contact with China in the north and Sri Lanka in the south and as far as Malaya, Java, Bali, Siam, Combodge, Laos and also Vietnam. Evidence of Hindu and Buddhist temples in these areas and the names suggest the affinity and close communication.
The earliest evidence of 'so-called' systematic postal service or courier service is found during the reign of King Chandragupta Maurya (321 - 297 B.C.). During his regime, system of communication was established between the capital and the out-lying provinces of the vast country for the dispatch of information and confidential reports to the emperor. The communication system was in vogue in different ways or patterns in the secret service organization and the police administration during ancient times, mostly for military purposes as well as for the civil and revenue administration of the country. Though the common people were not allowed to take any advantage of the system or rather we can say the commoners were not interested to take the service.
Later rulers, Ashoka, Bikramaditya and Harshabardhan, king’s men were appointed for conveying information and messages from the far flanked areas, especially from the frontier of the territory. They used to inform the rulers about any imminent army assemblages at the borders. Fa Hien during Bikramaditya and Heuen Tsang during Harshabardhan described their activities in details.
The origin of the postal system during the Muslim rule in India can be traced right back to the time of the conquest of Sind by the Arab ruler of Iraq under Mohammad Ibn-Qasim in 712. The Arab chiefs established many territories ruled by princes in Sind, which necessitated the maintenance of a regular postal line of communication with the Caliph of Baghdad, Al Hajjaj Bin Yousuf, for military intelligence and administrative instructions. The special horse couriers carried letter from the Caliph of Baghdad to Mohammad Ibn-Qasim on every third day from Iraq to Sind in seven days. There were post-houses established along the road and fresh horses were maintained at post-houses for speedy and nonstop postal service. It is the first recorded official postal service in India.
The postal system of medieval India was established exclusively for imperial use. The courier route was actually the road of the Sultan for conveyance of military instruction or information, dispatch of official correspondence for administration of the state. The official courier was not used for the benefit of the public as the common person was illiterate and the scope of trade and commerce was limited and localized. Its use among the negligible number of literate persons was rarely possible because the reigning monarch suspected them of espionage, revolt and activities against his rule. Such people were kept under strict vigilance and constant watch. Thus the postal service served the interests of the Sultans, rulers and it developed into an organization of secret service for the protection of their Empire. The postal officials acted as spies conveying all intelligence for the Sultans during their rule in India.
A sea mail route was opened between Sind and Basra with intermediate ports at Lawan and Kharak with the growth and’ development of trade and commerce in North-Western India. The trade was further carried by sea through Sind to Turkistan, Khurasan and Constantinople for exchange of correspondences between the tradesmen.
During the Ghaznid period Sultan Mahmud, a Turkish Sultan of Ghazni in Afghanistan (998-1030), Afghanistan (998-1030), conquered a large part of North-Western India and the Punjab, and added to his vast central Asian empire. He established a network of elaborate and efficient postal services throughout his empire. According to Farishta, the great historian who traveled India in the 16th century, the foot messengers for carrying intelligence were called ‘Sarran’ and, horse couriers for urgent and important messages called ‘Khail Sarran’. The special messages carried by specially recruited Arabia’s best horsemen and they were paid extra besides their regular salary. During his tenure, according to Siyasat Nama, the private letters of important persons of the State and official correspondences were conveyed by mounted courier service called 'The Askudars'.
Postmaster or the Master of Post 'Sahib-i-Barid' was appointed at the headquarters of every province for the superintendence and maintenance of the postal service. The post was considered to be a very burdensome and important for the State. The Sultan appointed to these posts only men of high dignity and integrity from amongst his favorites. Abul Abbas Fazl and Abu Ali Hasan were both ‘Sahib-i-Barid' and they rose to the rank of Wazir of Sultan Mahmud for their good service to the State. The duties of Sahib-i-Barid also included the submission of reports about the affairs of province and conduct of the provincial and military officers to the Sahib-i-Risalat (head of the correspondence department) for transmission to the Sultan through the postal agencies. In exigency of service the Sahib-i-Barid took emergent measures in transmitting intelligences through his secret agents who carried them hidden in their belongings.
The Sultanates of Delhi were pioneers in organizing a regular communication system in India. Chenghiz Khan, the great Mongolian ruler (1154-1226), first organized a postal communication on the Arabian pattern. By the end of the 12th century Mohammad Ghori, Sultan of Ghazni (1175- 1206), came to India, established the Das (Slave Dynasty) at Delhi in 1192.
First authentic information about the earliest available postal service in India was found from the memoirs of Jiauddin Baruni, who during the reign of Sultan Alauddin Khilji came to India in 1296 A.D. He wrote the Sultan had two kinds of news-bearers, the on-foot couriers and horse-riders.
The memoir of Ibn-e-Batuta, who visited India by 1300’s was another outstanding source of earliest courier service, which was unbelievably fast. Ibn-Battuta came to India during the reign Muhammad -bin-Tughlaq .
When we reached this river called Panj Ab, which is the frontier of the territories of the Sultan of India and Sind, the officials of the intelligence service came to us and sent a report about us to the governor of the city of Multan. From Sind to the city of Dihli (Delhi), the Sultan’s capital, it is fifty days march, but when the intelligence officers write to the Sultan from Sind, the letter reaches him in five days by the postal service. In India, the postal service is of two kinds. The mounted couriers travel on horses belonging to the Sultan with relays every four miles. The service of couriers on foot is organized in the following manner. At every third of a mile there is an inhabited village, outside which there are three pavilions. In these sit men girded up ready to move off, each of whom has a rod a yard and a half long with brass bell at the top. When a courier leaves the town he takes the letter in the fingers of one hand and the rod with the bells in the other, and runs with all his might. The men in the pavilions, on hearing the sound of the bells, prepare to meet him, and when he reaches them, one of them takes the letter in his hand and passes on, running with all his might and shaking his rod, until he reaches the next station, and so the letter is passed on, till it reaches its destination. This post is quicker than the mounted post.
The postal service, no matter how swift it might be, called ‘barid’ in Arabic, as in classical times, was purely an official organization for the rapid transmission of state business, and could not, of course, be utilized by private citizens . The term ‘Barid’ is used synonym to postage, in all Arabic speaking countries.
In Bengal, the term 'Dak', from which the words 'Dak-ghar' (post office) or 'Dak-byabostha' (postal service) or 'Dak harkara' (postman) are derived, means 'to call'. It seems that the couriers, when delivering ruler's messages, approaches a village or a marketplace and to draw attention of the members of public used call out in high-pitch voice.
During the reign of King Sikander Lodi (1488-1518), historian Eliott wrote, each day two couriers were sent to the frontiers for any possible news of the invaders. Emperor Babur developed a horse courier system from Agra to Kabul.
It is known that Sher Shah Suri introduced the services of horse runners, during 1540 to 1545. The service extended from Sonargaon of Bengal to the bank of river Sind, totaling a length of more than a thousand miles. Historian Farista wrote, that Sher Shah Suri established 1,700 Serai (resting place) along the road, at a distance of every two miles, so that the couriers can have rest and a new horse and unexhausted courier is available for the next serai. There was a post of ‘Daroga-i-Dak Chowki’ as the in charge.
After the fall of Sher Shah, during the reign of the Mughals, Akbar (1556-1605) built post houses at every ten miles and swift Turki horses were deployed. Camels were introduced over desert routes. The zaminders or the land holders, during the Mughal administration, were as representatives of the state, employed to realise revenues and empowered to levy duties and customs on trade etc. and to impose taxes on the cultivators etc. They were instructed to inform the people of his area about emperor's orders and to pass on the order from his own area to the neighbouring zaminder. They were to inform the emperor about any major events inside the territory, especially about the incidences outside the border of emperor's territory.
During the reign of Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627) there was ‘Wakia-nabish’ (news gatherer) who used to make the Emperor well-informed about the day to day happenings. The dak-chowkis were mainly controlled by the provincial governments. At every provincial headquarters the Darogah or the superintendent of the Dak chowki was appointed for receiving and dispatching letters to and from Dhaka, capital of Bengal .
The most important types of letter were as follows:
(i) Farman (Royal Order),
(ii) Shuqqueq (Emperor’s letter to a person),
(iii) Nishan (letter from a prince or a royal person),
(iv) Hasb-ul-hukum (letter of minister, conveying Emperor’s order),
(v) Parwanah (administrative order to subordinate persons) and
(vi) Dastak (official permit).
The Daroga-i-Dak Chowki in Dhaka handed over the royal daks received from the various provinces unopened to the Mir Bakshi (Secretary) for submission to the emperor. Mir Bakshi in his turn opened all letters except those addressed personally to the emperor. Darogah-i-Dak Chowki was appointed for receiving and dispatches letters to and from Dhaka. The hurkara was the lowest rank in the postal administration. Except carrying mails his principal responsible was to spy the news of all occurrences and convey the report to the Subadar (governor) of the subah.
With the development of inter-country trade and commerce, the businessmen started to develop their own system of sending their information. In earlier days, the news related to the king only, but gradually the news started to deal with the commodities and the transactions of the traders. Jahangir introduced the peg ion post and trained them to carry news and secret messages with speed within convenient distances. Pelsaert writes ‘Emperor Jahangir has pigeons kept everywhere to carry letters in time of need or great urgency’.
It is believed that a priest, Father Stevens, was the first Englishman to arrive at Goa in 1579 . His letter to his father (which brought the Merchants Adventurers in 1582) is the first recorded outgoing mail from India to England, while the letter from King James I of England to Emperor Jahangir at Agra in 1608 was supposed to be the first inward mail to India.
Emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1638) issued regular instructions and guidance through his secret agents to prince Murad, when he was sent to the campaign of Balakh. His eldest son Dara Shikoh closed all channels of communication for transmission of messages to his brothers in Bengal, Gujrat and Deccan, during illness of the Emperor at Agra. It caused great confusion and his brothers Shah Shuja and Murad, proclaimed them as emperor of India on the presumption that the Emperor had died, as no news was coming from Agra. Aurangajib marched with his army towards Agra and killed his brother Dara Shikoh in the bloody battle. Prince Dara had to pay heavy price of his life and throne for suppressing the flow of news from Agra and the lines of communication.
In the administration of the Mughal Emperor Auragajib (1658-1700), the postal system witnessed further improvement and stricter rules attached to postal laws and orders. Under the rules the postal runners were bound to cover a fixed distance in a fixed time (one Jaribi Kuroh in one ghari or hour), failing which he was liable to a fine of a quarter of his salary. The government officers and the zaminders of the locality had strict orders to help the dak runners in carrying out of their postal duties and were held responsible for any delay in the transmission of the post. The central postal department kept the central government of the Mughal Emperors informed of all occurrences in various parts of the country by means of spies and news-reporters, both public and secret. All public offices had an open register attached to them and, all the information and reports reached the Emperor through the dak-chowkies were recorded in these registers. But during the later half century, the postal service started to decline, with the decline of the Mugal Empire.
THE ZAMINDARI DAK
A special attention should be given to the system of courier or postal services developed or maintained by the Zaminders, the landed gentry of Bengal and its adjoining areas, since the reign of Emperor Akber.
The method of conveying messages dates back to the time of Gautama Budha (circa 1000 BC). At that time, there were a good number of city states or townships with a headman in charge to solve different problems of the society. In return, the community used to pay their respect by giving him some gift. These 'gifts' turned to be a definite rate of revenue for the service rendered by them. Eventually this head-manship became hereditary and thereby transformed their rights to the revenue into the right in the land itself. When a headman becomes ambitious, he gets hold of neighbouring land, community or village by mutual contact or by force and in one time assumes the title of 'Raja'. When this kingship really turns into a real kingdom, the kings had to depend on the lesser lords for constant flow of income for their survival. In return they used to protect the subjects. And here the position of Zaminders evolved. In Bengal their title varied, somewhere they were Mandals, somewhere Chowdhurys or Bhuyans, etc. By the time of Muslim entered Bengal (1000 AD), some of these hereditary tenure holder had already developed into overlords by depressing the position of the real holder of land, the peasant into that of a mere tenants.
These kings, lords or zaminders used to communicate with each other by their own messengers. There was no public communication for carriage of private letters at the early stage. The people of Bengal used to send letters through their friends or neighbours, to distant relatives. These travelers, who were on their way to such places used to carry these letters, or used to hand over to several other persons in different stages or relay system, up to the place of destination, on payment to the person entrusted with the carriage of letters .
In this way, in course of time, the private party was organized in Bengal and later on private organization sprung up on commercial links for maintaining communications through hired messengers or runners for carriage of private letters .
The zaminders or the land holders, during the Muslim rule, were, as representatives of the state, employed to realise revenues and empowered to levy duties and customs on trade etc. and to impose taxes on the cultivators etc. The system passed on and continued to in the early parts of Company's regime up to 1793, till Lord Cornwallis introduced the Permanent Settlement.
The ‘zaminder’ (or ‘Zaminder’ or ‘Zeminder’), a Persian term, denotes an occupant of land, a landholder. The term was first introduced during the administration of the Mughals. In many places the influential landlords were authorized to maintain order in their areas .
With the conquest of India, the Mugal government had to ensure the receipt of a constant flow of income for its survival. The Mugal rulers employed the local chiefs to collect the taxes and hand them over to the government after taking their share. This definitely caused erosion of power of the central government.
The zaminders of Bengal were the pioneers in setting up separate postal lines in 1765, when the British civil administration was organized, after the fall of Bengal in 1757. The constitution of 1765 declared the zaminders as the official servants of the East India Company. By this way, the zaminders of Bengal became powerful rulers, as civil administrators, governing the Presidency of Bengal under the aegis of Fort William. Though the zaminderi system, when organized by the Mughals, worked as intermediary to the rulers, with the peasants and performed the duty of tax-collectors initially.
In Bengal, the term needed more explanation. There were two major types of zaminders under Mughal administration, but they differ with the quality, nature and status. Firstly there were hereditary landowners, traders, who acquired a large portion and the eminent soldiers or the princes, who were awarded a piece of land by the Emperor. They were allowed to collect revenues, keep their share at the stipulated rate and send the rest to the Emperor. Secondly, there are longstanding kingships, such as tribal kings of Coochbihar, Tripura etc. and Maharaja of Burdwan, Rani Bhabani of Natore or Devi Basant of Chttagong etc. who used to pay only a token tax of one taka two anna as ‘jama’, whom the Emperor did not want to alienate.
In Bengal the term denoted strongly as the responsible collector only of revenue on behalf of the Government in the Mughal period. The zaminder was allowed a fee or commission of ten per cent the total collection, and a portion of land, whilst managing lands and realizing the revenue for support of the zaminder and his family. He was further allowed a deduction from amount of revenue to cover various charges borne by the zaminder. He was empowered to impose taxes in addition to revenue on the cultivators and to levy internal duties and customs on articles of trade passing through his estate. In the later Mughal periods onwards these landlords, commonly known as the Zaminders, were empowered to try petty civil and criminal cases. Thus the zaminders became very powerful and gained importance in all respects. The zaminder was formerly the great fiscal officer of a district. In his fouzdari or criminal court, he inflicted all sorts of punishment. The courts became instrument of power instead of justice.
The President and his Council of the Company in Bengal were engaged in their diplomatic duties in bribing the officers of the Mughal Durbar, while, on the other side, the zaminders in the Company’s rule emerged as powerful rulers involving in trade, collection of revenue and levying taxes on the poor native inhabitants. The English merchants, as successful traders, became the zaminders of the three little villages. They thereafter, through influence acquired over the Nawab of Bengal, legalized their position. In ten years (1757-67), the Dewan became powerful in the Council of the Nawab i.e. the powerful merchants of the Company became the de facto ru1er of Bengal although the Company always tried to keep up the friction that they were servants and not masters. In August 1765, at Oudh, Lord Clive (1765-67) obtained from the Mughal Emperor, on behalf of the Company the position of the Dewan, at the Court of the Nawab. The Nawab lost all real power and was a mere shadow in the background .
The transfer of Dewani conferred on the zaminders of the Company the rights for the collection and management of revenue, civil justice, military power and fouzdari administration in the provinces of Bengal, Behar and Orissa. Clive appointed two prominent natives Md. Reza Khan and Raja Sitab Roy, as Company’s Dewans at Murshidabad and Patna respective1y for collection of revenue under the supervision of their officers. At both places, two different English officers were also appointed to supervise the working of these native zaminders. The typical division of power and responsibility - executive, revenue and judicial between the Nawab and Company became famous as the Dual Government Introduced by Robert Clive. It was merely designed to conceal the de facto position of the Company, which already had the real power in Bengal at that time. The dual government in Bengal deteriorated the efficiency of the whole administrative machinery. The English servants misused the powers and positions to meet their ends, encouraged corruption, bribery, misappropriation, which ultimately led to the exploitation and made the inhabitants of Bengal very poor and miserable.
Henry Verelst, Governor of Bengal (1767-69), first realized the responsibilities, which the merchants had taken themselves of appropriating the revenue of the country. Mohammad Reza Khan in Bengal exercised the real control of the revenue in addition to the administration of criminal justice and maintenance of peace and order. In the history of Bengal, Reza Khan was responsible for cruelty and barbarity inflicted on the ‘native’ cultivators for exploitation and plunder, which was unequal in the civilized nation and for the man-made great famine in Bengal, popularly known as ‘Famine of seventy-six’ .
The formation of modern post offices of India is greatly indebted to the initiation of thannah posts under the zaminderi dak system of Bengal and its evolution and transformation into District Post of provincial administration by the middle of nineteenth century. The zaminderi dak of Bengal created a base for the postal organization and played an important pioneering role for the infrastructure of the Imperial Posts of British India and of the Post Offices of Indian sub-continent of the present day. The gradual evolution towards building of a regular system of postal organization has been deeply reflected on the life of our peasantry, the cultural and religious life of our people, and on generating knowledge and mass education, the growth of trade and commerce, cities and towns, population and settlement and contributed largely in the scientific and technological development toward progress of this country.
The Pitt’s India Act passed in 1784 vested jointly in the Crown and the Company. It tightened the control of the Parliament over the administration of the Company’s territories in India by estb1ishing a Board of control in England. The Board had neither patronage nor any control over commercial matters, both of which were left to the Court of Directors of the East India Company; but it acquired power to superintend, direct and control everything connected with the civil, military and fiscal administration of the British territorial possessions in the East Indies. In India, the powers of the Governor General of Bengal and his council over the presidencies of Bombay and Madras were increased, both in respect of their domestic administration with the result that the two presidencies were then definitely made subordinate to the Governor General and Council of Bengal.
Two years later a supplementary Act Governor General to overrule in special cases the majority of the Council. The administration of the British territories in India now came to be vested in the Governor General in Council, a change, which was emphasized in 1834 by changing the title from the Governor General of Fort William in Bengal to that of the Governor General of India. The Charter Act of 1813 witnessed the partial throwing open of the Indian trade to the public in England and the East India began to cease to be mainly a commercial enterprise. The Company lost the Indian trade altogether and became the political agent of English monarchy for the administration of India with the Charter Act of 1833. The outbreak of the Sepoy Mutiny badly shook the foundation of the Company’s rule in India and exposed the weakness of the Company’s rule in India. This prompted the British Parliament in 1858 to pass the Act for the Better Government of India by which the control of the administration of India was vested in the Crown of England. Queen Victoria in a Proclamation issued on 1 November announced the change in the system of administration. Thus India came directly under the sovereign power of the British Government .
By 1725, the zaminders of Bengal became the masters of land, when the city of Calcutta was administered by the Europeans as civil (police) and municipal collectors and aldermen in the court of justice. During their administration the first post office of India was established at Calcutta, which was in existence between I727-37. These zaminders were the pioneers in setting up postal lines in 1765, when the civil administration was organized after the fall of Bengal in 1757. The constitution of 1765 declared the zaminders as the official servants of the East India Company. By this way, the zaminders of Bengal became powerful rulers, as civil administrators, governing the presidency of Bengal under the aegis of Fort William. In this year, Lord Clive first introduced a regular service; and the zaminders were called upon to supply dak runners all routes of the districts of Bengal, for which a deduction was allowed in their collection of rents, depending on the number of runners employed and mileage covered.
In 1765, the zaminders made complaints to the East India Company on the irregular dak arrangement of Emperor Shah Alam of Delhi, Allahabad, Calcutta, Murshidabad and Dacca. The Select Committee of the Company decided in 1770 to continue the Nawab’s Dak and to restrict the use of Nizamat Dak to places where there was no Company dak.
In the initial stages zaminders controlled the fouzdari stations to maintain peace and established fouzdari courts for the judicial administration and for collection of revenue. They also established zaminderi police dak system in 1765 for the convenience of revenue and judicial administration up to 1792 and thereafter, Lord Cornwallis under the Permanent Settlement Regulation of 1793 removed the zaminders from the civil, judicial and police administration. They were even not allowed to enter the thannah station under the Regulation.
However they had the liability to establish rural dak service (Regulation XXII of 1793) by recruiting runners etc. and to pay a fixed sum towards costs of police establishment as land burden to the Government (Regulation I & of 1793). Section X of Police Regulation XX of 1817 enforced the zaminders, land holders and actual proprietors of land to commute a fixed amount to maintain the police dak for carriage of official communication connecting the headquarter and subordinate towns of the district with the police stations in the interior of the villages for revenue and judicial administration of the Company.
By this time the Imperial Post Office Act 1837 created a dual system of postal services parallel and auxiliary to each other in India as two distinct posts; one as the public post created, maintained and controlled by the Imperial Government of the Company on the main and principal routes and selected large post offices and the other as the District Post, under zaminderi dak system, controlled by the District authorities of various provincial Governments in India for connecting the District head quarters with the police and revenue station in the interior parts for the convenience of police and revenue administration of the Company.
The District Post was in its primitive stage in 1837. No formal set up of a post office in rural India existed, as we find at present. The functions were carried out by the thannah and its Daroga, acted as ex-officio Postmaster, duties of Postmen (delivery peons) were performed by constables, watchmen, sepoies, or chowkidars etc. on cash payment of two pices per letter by the person, who receives the letter. In this way, the District Post, which was drawn from the zaminderi police post, continued under the administrative control of the police authority (Post Office Act of 1854); charges being met from the zaminderi dak cess realized by the District Magistrate, under the Bengal Act of 1862. This act also played a great role towards abolition of the District Post and a complete fusion with the Imperial Post with the gradual improvement of rural dak system so as to meet its own expenditure and become self sufficient to run independently. It took about 45 years (1817-62) to amend the constructive defects of the Police Regulation of 1817 and another 44 years (1862-1906) to make dak system self sufficient or to find its right time for amalgamation with the Imperial Post. Meanwhile the zaminders were exploited economically to pay the charges of the so-called District Post as controlled by the District Authority or literally called the zaminderi dak, as financially managed by the zaminders. The entire postal administration of India had to be recast with the complete fusion of the District Posts) (or local posts) under several provincial Governments 1st April 1906 .
It is interesting to mention here that the Imperial Post Office Department used the term ‘Zamindari Dak’ as District Post organized under Post Office Act of 1854, while the provincial Government of Bengal called the District Post as ‘Zamindari Dak’ as financed by the zaminders with a levy imposed on them under the provisions of the Bengal Act of 1862.
As there was no public communication for carriage of private letters, except for the few servants of the merchant company, the ‘natives’ of Bengal used to send letters through their friends or neighbours, to distant relatives, who were on the way to such places, or by several other persons in different stages or relay system up to the place of destination on payment to the person(s) entrusted with the carriage of letters. In this way, in course of time, the private party was organized in Bengal and later on private organization sprung up on commercial lines for maintaining communication through hired messengers or runners for carriage of private letters side by side with the Company’s Dak and the Zamindari Dak system.
Besides the private dak system, several other dak system were also individually viz. the system of Bankers for transmission of hundies etc. called the Mahajan Dak, the Nawab’s Dak and the Nizamat Dak. The Nizamat Dak was the oldest organized dak line between Murshidabad and Calcutta for carriage of private letters for the exclusive use of the Nawab’s family or Nizamat Adalat etc.
Big zaminders or landholders or managers of estates etc. or other influential persons sponsored these private organizations, for business as well as for exclusive control of important dak lines throughout the country originating from Bengal. Yet the Company’s Dak line was the safest and most reliable. But due to the weak and inefficient administration of the Company, its dak system could not on a better footing-inherent corruption and self-interest of the merchants crept and ruined the administration to a large extent.
As the private dak arrangement was insufficient, costly and insecure, the local people had to depend much on the dak runners employed by the Company for carriage of private communication against consideration, such they could be easi1y bribed. From the term, ‘consideration’, there grew up ‘the idea of selling the services’, in which we find of Post Offices in the early days of the Company’s regime. The distribution of letters was effected by hired persons paid by the Company or on payment of bakshish by the person receiving the letter or by the persons connected with the Thannah Dak on cash payment of two pices for each letter by the person receiving the letters. This system was legalized by the Company in 1854 Thus the two principal functions of the present day post office-the receipt and delivery of correspondences owed its origin during the corrupt administration of the Company against consideration and bakshish within the rudimentary system of facility available gradual growing wants of the people to communicate by the post.
The zaminderi dak symbolizes the early dak runner- a traditional scene in our rural life, running day and night with spearhead fitted with jingling bells on his shoulder. The bells were adopted as a concession to the superstition of the people, who believed that the bells would counter any evils and animals while the spearhead was for his self-defense. Similarly the postmen honoured as a social worker during earlier days, were supplied with hand bells, which were to be rung to announce their arrival with letters to obviate delay in delivery.
The letterboxes, from the early beginning to the present times, have been changed in shape, design, character, size commensurate with its various uses with the evolution of postal services. The early dak naturally arrived very irregularly at the village through the hurcurrah (runner) and the arrival of mails was announced by blowing a bugle or horn for information of the villagers. The headman with several villagers, gathered in the zaminderi cutchery or mundep, hut or in a central location under the shade of trees to attend the mail carrier to receive news, writes replies, and dispatches their communication in leisure as the villagers eagerly awaited the news of the capital .
The hurcurrah, honoured, during the Company’s regime, as a messenger of the king’s letter narrated to the illiterate, news of the cities, of kings and of political upheavals with degree of imagination to satisfy the curiosity of the villagers. In this way, the dak runner figured as the news reporter of the capital for the remote villagers, which later on was termed as ‘Journalist’. The present post offices of India owed their origin to this primitive system of postal transaction.
The zaminderi dak contributed largely towards the economic growth of rural Bengal, advancement of knowledge and aroused social, cultural and political awareness among the rural inhabitants of nineteenth and early twentieth century The rural post offices under the agency system established during the eighties of last century served as numerous veins of the communication network the reaching furthest corner of the country and the smallest representative of the British monarch (i.e. post office) was available for the greater interest of his subjects, keeping in close touch with the administration. The rural postmaster of the by-gone days was honoured as being the paid servant of the king who looked after the daily news maintained communication link between the rural inhabitants and the capital.
THE BRITISH RULE IN INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT
The history of Imperial Post begins with the history of East India Company.
The East India Company
The East India Company came into existence on 31 December 1600 by a Royal Charter and begun functioning with the main purpose of trading in India and after getting permission from Emperor Jahangir, established its first centre at Madras in 1631. They set up their second centre at Bombay in 1660 and third at Calcutta in 1668. These increased activities of the Company created the necessity for a regular exchange of correspondence between their trading centers.
With the steady growth and development of the Company, both trade and politics posed the problem of having regular contact between the headquarters and the units, spread over the country. To convey the communications at the early stage, it had to depend on the existing services of the Indian postal runners, already established by the Indian rulers .
The postal system was gradually perfected principally by five most important mileposts, viz.:
Table 1: Regulations and Post Office Acts during EIC Rule
1. Regulation of Robert Clive in 1766 for establishing a regular postal system for carriage of Company’s Dawk and private letters of the Company’s servants;
2. Regulation of Warren Hastings in 1774 for planning of a General Post Office at Calcutta for carriage of letters of private persons on payment of postage through the establishment of the Imperial Post;
3. Regulation of Cornwallis in 1793 of Permanent Settlement for establishing the police dawk between police stations and district headquarters maintained by the zaminders, ‘the establishment of which was a forward step towards the national integration of service of the present day;
4. All-India Post Office Act of Auckland in 1837 for declaring all private posts illegal and establishing the public post with the exclusive right to convey letters by post vested in the Company;
5. The Post Office Act of Lord Dalhousie in 1854, for reforming the entire fabric of the postal system and establishing the Imperial Postal Department on the present administrative footing.
The postal administration, having assessed the operation efficiency of the service during the years, considered it just and necessary to improve the service and in that regard issued directions on August 27, 1688, which read :
We likewise require you to erect a Post Office for all letters to be brought to and delivered at, setting such rate upon each letter and so proportionately upon double and treble letters, as may in a few years, bring in sensibly a vast revenue to the Company and a much greater conveniency, to merchants and trade in general, than ever they yet had or to understand.
The Mughal postal system was operative in Bengal and the local zaminders were required to ensure the safe conduct of the dawk (post) . An imperial postal runner carried with him a permit, duly sealed and signed by the Daroga-I-dawk-chouki, which obtained the zaminders and thanadars to ensure his safety and to furnish him with guides . The zaminders of Bengal became the pioneers in setting up separate postal lines in 1765, when the British civil administration was organized, after the grant of the faujdari power to the East India Company.
Regulation of Robert Clive in 1766
After the East India Company became the ‘de facto’ ruler of Bengal in 1757, they started to establish their control more rigidly, with which the importance of postal service grew up. In 1766, Lord Clive made some arrangement for smooth delivery of the Company’s mail from one place to other. In the Minutes of the Governor’s Circulation dated 24 March 1766, it reads , :
“Ordered that in future all letters be dispatched from Government House. The Post Master or his assistant attending every night to sort and see them sent off.
That the letters to the different inland settlements be made up to the different inland settlements be made up in separate bags, sealed with the Company’s seal.
That none may open the packets except the chiefs at the different places, who are to open only their own respective packets; and
Ordered that they be directed to observe the same rule with respect to the letters sent down to Calcutta.
The public letter was accepted at the rate of 2 annas as for every 100 miles for the first time for dispatch through dawk runners within the Presidency of Bengal. The new establishment of Dawk was formed into four zones from Calcutta office to Ganjam, Patna, Banares and Dacca covering 1179 miles at 139 stages with 417 hurcurrahs and 139 massalchies (torchbearers) and 139 drummers.
A notification published in Calcutta Gazette on 10 March 1781 shows the rate of passenger charges for travel by riverboat under the management of Dawk with number of days as follows :
Table 2: Rate of passenger charges from Calcutta
Place Rate No. of Days Mode of Transport
Goalpara (Assam) Rs. 50.00 75 days Passenger boat
Chittagong Rs. 40.00 60 days ”
Dacca Rs. 29.00 37.50 miles ”
Patna Rs. 6.00 60 days Goods boat
Banares Rs. 6.50 75 days ”
Murshidabad Rs. 2.50 25 days ”
A European Deputy Post Master was appointed at each of the stations, Murshidabad, Patna, Benaras, Ganjam, Dacca, and Dinajpur. The Post Master General is assisted by deputy and subordinate staff, consisting of an assistant, two writers, a jamadar and 15 peons. His monthly salary amounted to Rs. 500 raised to Rs. 1000 in 1781, in addition to a commission. Necessary rules were made to carry out this order in the public proceedings held on 7 July 1766 .
Besides this, Robert Clive also instructed the zaminders to supply dawk runners for all routes of the districts of Bengal, for which a deduction was allowed in their collection of rents, depending on the number of runners employed and mileage covered. Those who could not comply with the orders of the Company are asked to pay more taxes. They also have to allow the Company’s couriers to cross their land without any hindrance. This was the beginning of the Zaminderi Dawk system initiated in the presidency of Bengal, by Lord Clive, for the convenience of dawk in the interior of the district for the civil, police and fouzdari administration.
The efforts made by Robert Clive to revamp the postal administration did not yield the desired results and in fact the management of the Postal Service was far from satisfactory, as reflected from the Constitutions of 17 January 1774. The text reads :
The present management of the Dawks is attended with many inconveniences. Private letters are exempted from postage and the whole expenses of the establishments' falls upon the Company. The Dawks from the same cause are loaded with packages of the most frivolous kind and of unreasonable weights. The privilege of sending private letters by the Dawks being confined to the European inhabitants affords but a partial aid to the necessary intercourse of trade. The establishment is branched out into various departments, all independent and unconnected the expense partly defrayed by ready money, payments and partly taxes on the Zaminders and farmers, who make an advantages of them in the deductions of their rents. From all these causes the establishment is involved in a labyrinth of obscurity without checks and without system. The delays on the road are often greater than that of common cossids or couriers without a possibility of correcting them, because it cannot be known by whom they are occasioned.
As a measure to bring the service on sound lines, Warren Hestings, the Governor-General in Council introduced a new scheme in 1774, the salient features of which were as follows:
a. Permitting private citizens to avail of the facilities of postal services, till then to carry official mails on payment of postage at the rates prescribed;
b. Division of the postal area of Calcutta into four divisions for administrative convenience;
c. Appointment of a Post Master General at Culcutta with the Deputy to have control of the entire establishments and
d. The appointment of Deputy Post Masters at Moorshedabad, Patna, Benaras, Ganjam, Dacca and Dinagepur.
Regulation of Warren Hestings in 1774
The opening of the service to the public by the scheme of 1774 virtually changed the character of the mails carried, categorizing into three classes not contemplated earlier. The payment of postage on letters delivered into post offices was made obligatory on the part of the sender, such letters were ordinarily known as ‘paid letters’. As an alternative, the sender was given an option of sending letters without payment of postage leaving it to be collected from the addressee on delivery. This class of mail was termed as ‘bearing’ or ‘unpaid’ letters.
Official letters with the superscription ‘On Service’ sent by or addressed to high dignitaries and officials, bearing the name and designation of the officer by whom the letter was sent were allowed to be dispatched free of charge; this category was known as ‘Free’ letters. Other than three categories, the letters sent by Governors, Residents and Army Officers to the Rajas of Native States with only their personal wax seals. Under what provision of rule they had been sent is yet to be known; and no official records are available to clarify this aspect.
The proceedings of the Council dated 6 December 1775 issued the following instructions :
The Zaminders and farmers will be ordered to deliver to the several fawzdars an account of the number of zaminderi thannahs in their districts, with the names of the persons by whom they are held and will be strictly enjoyed to the Fowzdars in all matters relating to his jurisdiction.
That was the beginning of the zaminderi dawk system in Bengal. In this system, we find the inception of a police dawk system where the zaminders, farmers and land holders were asked to maintain a communication link with the fauzdars and police courts for transmitting constant intelligence of all matters relating to the peace of the country.
The Bengal Permanent Settlement Regulation (Regulation I of 1793), introduced by Lord Cornwallis, is the first postal law of India, governing some initial attachment to the Zaminders or land owners - a liability to maintain dawk in the Provinces of Bengal, Behar and Orissa. The law enforced on 'all zamindars, independent talukdars and other actual proprietors of land, who used to pay revenues to the Government', a liability to maintain dawk chowkees and hurcurrahs, for speedy transmission of information from the police chowkees, placed at remote rural tracts of Bengal, Behar and Orissa, to Saddar stations and between the chowkees, for the protection of peace and criminal administration.
In 1784, Mr. Cockrell, the PMG of Bengal introduced a new rate of postage calculated on the basis of distance and weight of the letter. The dawk system was extended to all head quarters of the districts within the Presidency with the dawk hurcurah and dawk pulki operating throughout the year, except for the four months from June to September during the rainy season.
Table 3: Bengal Postage Rates of 1785
Letters Weig- Letters Weig- Letters Weig- Letters Weig- Letters Weig-
hing exactly hing more hing more hing more hing more
From Calcutta 2½ or under than 2½ to 3½ than 3½ to 4½ than 4½ to 5½ than 5½ to 6½
S. Wt to pay S. Wt to pay S. Wt to pay S. Wt to pay S. Wt to pay
Rs. An. Rs. An. Rs. An. Rs. An. Rs. An.
Barickpore 0 1 0 2 0 3 0 4 0 5
Houghly 0 1 0 2 0 3 0 4 0 5
Chandennagore 0 1 0 2 0 3 0 4 0 5
Burdwan 0 2 0 4 0 6 0 8 0 10
Moorshedabad 0 2 0 4 0 6 0 8 0 10
Dacca 0 3 0 6 0 9 0 12 0 15
Chittagong 0 6 0 12 1 2 1 8 1 14
Culpee 0 2 0 4 0 6 0 8 0 10
Midnapore 0 2 0 4 0 6 0 S 0 10
The Calcutta Gazette of 30 June 1791 published 'an evidence of insecurity of the post' connected with the dawk arrangement when the packet mail posted at Madras, attracting heavy postage for large packets, were sent to Bengal by sea instead of by foot dawks. This year the PMG issued a revised rate of postage from Calcutta to various places in the Presidency of Bengal superseding the earlier notification. The table shows the varying rates of postage as follows :
Table 4: Varying rates of postage to various places of Bengal
1a Barrackpore, Hooghly, Chinsura, Chandernagar
2as. Nadia, Santipur, Burdwan, Murshidabad, Berhampur,
3as Sorrie (Suri), Birbhum, Rajmahal, Dacca, Bakergang,
In 20 February 1795, an official advertisement appeared, with reference to the transmission through post of the Company's bond or promissory notes from one part of the country to another. This is said to be the first instance where the system of registration was adopted by the post office in order to secure the safety of the documents in transit.
This year, the Postal department published a table of revised rates of postage for letter posted for conveyance by dawk hurcurrahs, in the interior of the country from one end to another. This table indicated that by that time the dawk arrangement was extended all over the country at a smooth speed for dispatch and receipt at different dawk chowkees enroute to their destination.
The Bishop’s Mark
Before the introduction of the postage stamps, the media for payment of the charges on the article, the prepayment of postage, was indicated by the hand-struck stamps. They were in vogue in Britain, known as Bishop’s Mark, named after Henry Bishop, then Post Master General of Great Britain. As many other countries, the origin of postage stamps in India can be traced to these ‘hand stamps’. These were introduced after 1774 for recording the realization of the charges. The earliest on record in India is one on a private letter sent in 1775 from Calcutta to Dacca stamped ‘CALCUTTA’ and ‘POSTPAID 3 annas’ in addition to the Bishop Mark ‘2 Feb.’. The stamp in the shape of a small circle, measuring about 18 mm is divided into two having the month in the lower half, leaving the upper half for recording the date in manuscript.
So far as the pre-payment of postage is concerned, in India, small copper tickets (token) of one anna and two anna value were introduced when a regular system of post was brought into force from 31 March 1774. Postage was charged, for the first time, at the rate of 2 anna per 100 miles, within the territory of East India Company. These tokens were minted by Princep, on contract, at Falta near Calcutta, Murshidabad and Patna and were exclusively used, only to pass at the post offices. After payment of postage, these copper tickets were attached to the letter and while at delivery these tickets were kept with the post office .
Between 1784-89, Charles Cockerell, the PMG of Bengal Presidency introduced considerable improvement in the postal system. In 1789, the first weekly service was introduced from Masulipatam to Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. Very little is known of the progress of the postal service after 1798, as the East India Company was involved in constant conflicts after the arrival of Lord Wellesely in India in 1798. In fact till the annexation of Assam in 1826 the postal communication proved more and more difficult between the Company’s trading posts.
In accordance with the Company’s notice of the 4 January 1782 for the convenience of the individuals, the dispatch of the Banghy (parcel) confirming the rates published and commenced at Calcutta. It also requested that no parcels containing jewellery or any valuable articles be sent for transmission either by Dawk or Banghy without an indemnification.
It is necessary to explain here about the Banghy Dawk . Parcel post has its origin from the old Banghy Post, a name that originated from Bengal. In Bangla a thick slice of bamboo is called Bank or Bankee. This bamboo stick being strong and flexible is considered to be the best for carrying load, as is even the practice today. The carrier balances the Bank on his shoulder with the weights slung at each end.
Regulations of Lord Cornwallis in 1793
Lord Cornwallis under the Permanent Settlement Regulation of 1793 removed the zaminders from the civil and police administration. However, they had the liability to establish dawk services (Regulation XXII of 1793) by recruiting runners etc. and to pay a fixed sum towards costs of police establishment as land burden to the Government (Regulation I & VIII of 1793) .
A further substantial change in rates in Bengal occurred in 1802 when the rates were increased. The basis that was adopted being a charge of 2 annas, upto 50 miles, 3 annas upto 100 miles, 4 annas upto 150 miles and 1 anna extra for every additional 100 miles.
But even this postal system, introduced and maintained by the Company, existed only in those parts of India, where the Company had its establishments or its offices stationed and therefore the private post was still carried on in other parts of India by native postal runners as hitherto. This service was popularly called ‘Mahajani Dawk’ and was not only run on very efficient basis, but was cheaper than the Company’s service.
The Company’s service was at that time becoming more organised, as for the administrative set up. Postal services, in the major cities, its adjoining areas and among the cities, were controlled by the Post Master of the Presidency cities, i.e. Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi and Madras. The local Jaminders looked after Postal Services within and among the districts. Their duties and responsibilities were formulated by Bengal Regulation Act No. XX of 1817. District Collectors and Magistrates were ordered to supervise their activities. Zaminders with large lands had to employ and maintain postal runners. Number of runners varied according to the capacity of the zaminders and they were responsible for sending letters to the next post, whenever the letter reaches them. In lieu of their services rendered, they were exempted from paying some portion of their taxes .
The District Post was in its primitive stage in 1837. No formal set up of a post office in rural areas existed, as we find at present. The functions were carried out by the Thannah and its Darogahs, acted as ex-officio postmasters, and the duties of postmen (delivery peons) were performed by constables, watchmen, sepoies or chowkiders etc. on cash payment of two pies per letter by the person, who received the letter. In this way, the District Post, which was drawn from the zaminderi police post, continued under the administrative control of the police authority (Post Office Act of 1854): charges being met from the zaminderi dawk cess realised by the District Magistrate, under the Bengal Council Act of 1862. This Act also played a great role towards abolition of the district Post and a complete fusion with the Imperial Post with the gradual improvement of rural dawk system so as to meet its own expenditure and become self sufficient to run independently. It took about 45 years (1817 to 1862) to amend the constructive defects of the Police Regulation XX of 1917 and another 44 years (1862-1906) to make the rural dawk system self sufficient or to find its right time for amalgamation with the Imperial Post.
It is interesting to mention here, that the Imperial Post Office Department used the term Zaminderi Dawk as 'District Post', organised under Post Office Act of 1854, while the Provincial Government of Bengal called the District Post as Zaminderi Dawk as financed by the zaminders, with a levy imposed on them under the provisions of the Bengal Council Act of 1862.
All India Post Office Act of 1837
By 1837, the British influences had spread to practically all parts of India and hence a more comprehensive postal service was required, which led to the enactment of the Post Office Act of 1837, known as Act XVII of 1837, passed by the Governor General of India in Council, on 24 July 1837 .
This Act gave the British Government the sole right for postal service in the Company’s territories. All private postal services were banned, except those under licence, which was issued only to a few privileged groups, such ass Principal Secretaries of the State, Governors, Justices, Commander in-Chief of Indian Army. This restriction naturally led to much discontent, particularly owing to the higher Government rates of transmission. However, inspite of dealing everything to abolish these private posts, they still flourished and only ended in 1854, when the postal service was thrown open to all at a nominal rate of half anna for ordinary letter to any part of India.
As there was no public communication for carriage of private letters, except for the few servants of the merchant company, the 'natives' of Bengal used to send letters through their friends or neighbours, to distant relatives, who were on the way to such places, or by several other persons, in different stages or relay system upto the place of destination on payment to the person(s) entrusted with the carriage of letters. In this way, in course of time, the private party was organised in Bengal and letter on private organisation sprung up on commercial lines for maintaining communications through hired messengers or runners for carriage of private letters side by side with Company's Dawk and the Zaminderi Dawk system.
Besides the private dawk system, several other dawk systems were also maintained individually, the system of Bankers for transmission of hundies, called Mahajan Dawk, the Nawab's Dawk and the Nizamat Dawk. The Nizamat Dawk was the oldest organised dawk line between Murshidabad and Calcutta, for carriage of private letters for the exclusive use of the Nawab's family or Nizamat Adalat etc. These private organisations were sponsored by the big zaminders or landholders or managers (Nayeb) of the estates etc. or other influential persons for business as well as for exclusive control of important dawk lines throughout the country originating from Bengal. Yet the Company's Dawk line was the safest and most reliable.
Table 5: Major post offices of Bengal under Calcutta GPO (1837) .
Beauleah (or Rajshahe) = Jumalpore
Boalia (Rajshshi) Luckeepur (Laxmipur)
Bhoolooah (or Noacalle = Noakhali) Mymansingh
Chundpore Nalchitty (Barisal)
Comercolly (Kumarkhali) Reghonatpore (Pabna)
Dinajepore Surdah (Sardah)
Furreedpore (Faridpur) Sylhet
Gazeepur (Gazipur) Tippera (Comilla)
Introduction of First Postage Stamp of India in 1854
First postage stamps of the Indian sub-continent was introduced in 1 October 1854 with the introduction of a unified postal rate was introduced. Since 1840, after the introduction postage stamps in Great Britain, many countries followed the suit. In India the issuance of postage stamps had become imperative. The great advance made in 1854 was the introduction of postage stamps and the fixing of postage rates for letters irrespective of distance. The rates were as follows :
Table 6: Postal Rates as on 1854 on every letter
Not exceeding ¼ tola in weight 6 pies
Exceeding ¼ tola and not exceeding ½ tola in weight 1 anna
Exceeding ½ tola and not exceeding 1 tola in weight 2 anna
Exceeding 1 tola and not exceeding 1½ tola in weight 2 anna
Exceeding 1½ tola and not exceeding 2 tola in weight 4 anna
And for every tola in weight above 2 tola in weight 2 additional anna
The Post Office Commission, appointed in 1850, recommended the total abolition of the system of franking and the prepayment of postage stamps, to be obtained from London designed and printed, keeping similarity of design and colour of the British postage stamps. The Commission also recommended to create a post of Director General of Post Office. The Court of Directors, at their meeting in 15 December 1852, accepted the recommendation of the Commission. They, at the same time, disapproved the idea of procuring the stamps from England and insisted on the postage stamps being made in India, as the machinery at Calcutta was capable enough to produce stamps to meet the necessity of the requirements. They also discounted the idea of having a similar design and colour as British stamps. They also suggested, efforts should be made to find out if the Stamp Office at Calcutta could undertake preparing postage stamps and that the Arms of East India Company or the Crest could form a suitable design.
Accordingly the Government consulted Col. Forbes the Superintendent of Machinery at the Calcutta Mint on 23 April 1853 for the manufacture of stamps on Government’s behalf. Col. Forbes set to work and on the lines of the Scinde Dawk thought of trying the embossing process. He borrowed the 1835 Lion and Palm Tree design from the Gold Mohur of William IV and produced a half-anna design . Its designer was Mr. Flexman, Professor of Culture in Royal Academy, who was employed to curve a marble statue of Lord Warren Hastings in Calcutta .
The link between 27 April 1853 and 6 February 1854 - the day the note was prepared by George Plowden gives a very gloomy picture of the progress made by Col. Forbes during this intervening period. Governor General Lord Dalhousie became very impatient with the slow progress of the work and asked the Surveyor-General, if the postage stamps could be prepared in his office more speedily. He expressed the view that it was desirable to produce stamps of simple description with Coat of Arms of Great Britain or Queen’s head as motif.
Capt. H.N. Thullier, Deputy Surveyor General, within two weeks, produced the designs of four specimen stamps of half anna, one anna, 4 annas and 8 annas. Muniruddin, a draftsman, of the Surveyor’s office, did the engraving of the stamps, on the stone . A new vertical border design of eight arches with other design remaining the same was used to print new stamp. Half anna stamp was printed in blue .
With the introduction of the postage stamps, a unified postal rate was introduced. It was ordered that any letter weighing half a tola could be sent anywhere of India at a minimum rate of 2 anna. Rates depended on the variation of weight of the letter.
In November 1855, a supply of perforated Indian stamps, that was the East India issues printed by M/s De La Rue & Co., arrived in India. They were printed in the denominations of ½ anna, 1 anna, 2 annas, 4 annas and 8 annas.
SCINDE DISTRICT DAWK
Since 1840, after the introduction postage stamps in Great Britain, many countries followed the suit. In India the issuance of postage stamps had become imperative and so all the three Presidencies, Calcutta, Bombay and Madras became deeply engrossed in the working out of the plans for issuing stamps.
In 1852, twelve years after the issue of the ‘Penny Post' in England, India became the tenth country in the list of premier stamp issuing countries of the world. Instead of, the then capital of India, Calcutta, the first postage stamps, very strangely, happened to see the light of day in a small province of Scinde.
Though not specifically recorded, it is said that, Sir Bartle Frere, Commissioner of Scinde, got the assignment from the Governor of Bombay, Sir Arthur, to bring in postal reforms in Scinde. The postal administration was directly under the control of Bombay and that was running four very important post offices, viz. Sukkur, Shikarpur, Hyderabad Scinde and Karachi, all very much connected with Bombay.
Spurred by the order, Sir Bartle Frere (some say he was the son in-law of the Governor), a keen admirer of the Penny Post scheme of Sir Rowland Hill, with the active support of the Post Master of Karachi, Edward Lee Cofey, designed and got the stamps printed from M/s. De La Rue and Company Limited of London, England. The printer had the embossing, the best security process in mind as at that time they were printing 6d, 10d and 1Sh. embossed stamps of Great Britain and as a consequence, the same process was also adopted for the printing of the Scinde Dawk (Scinde Post) stamps. The Scinde Dawk stamps were first issued on 1 July 1852.
The design of the Scinde Dwak have puzzeled many. It was concluded that the design is the same as the mark of the East India Company, composed of ‘+’ and ‘P’ - a very ancient Christian sign, the first letter of the name of Jesus Christ in Greek. The mystic sign of ‘4’ is found at the head of almost every marine merchant’s mark. The design, more or less of the same pattern, is also noticed, in the watermarks of the contemporary laid, wove and bond papers. There is no doubt, however, that it was regarded as holy sign.
The shape of the embossed Scinde Dawk design is circular. In set, is a heart, divided into three segments, each segment containing one of the letters EIC (East India Company) in the centre, above the heart is the figure ‘4’ with the central stroke vertically lengthened to form one of the partitions in the heart. At the bottom tip is written 1/2 anna. The entire design is enclosed in a circular belt, forming its border. The circular belt contains the inscriptions ‘SCINDE DISTRICT DAWK’ with the belt buckle at the lower centre showing the holes for the buckle grip.
The Scinde Dawk was first issued embossed on brittle vermilion wafers which was formerly used to seal letters as is the practice even prevalent today. Cut square copies of the red Scinde Dawk do not exist, nor the large blocks, strips or pairs, known which gives a clear indication that each stamp must have been punched from a sealing wafer. The red Scinde Dawk stamps were found too brittle for postal use. So, a new supply, embossed without colour on white or bluish wove paper, varying slightly in thickness was introduced. It is not known how many stamps in a sheet were printed, but there do exist an irregular block of 14. In this block none of the stamps are in an alignment or equidistant both vertically, as well as, horizontally and so it can be concluded that the stamps must have been embossed, one at a time. Secondly, faint traces of blue lines are often found in the white examples to give uniformity in margins between two stamps, thereby, also providing that they must have been embossed singly.
Once again, the new stamps with no colour were found unsuitable for postal use as in the dark under candlelight, they could not be distinguished especially when they were affixed on the white envelopes. So a fresh order was sent to England to emboss them in blue and also to add a ring to the design, engraved on the master die.
Soon after the arrival of the blue Scinde Dawk stamps they were ordered to be withdrawn and destroyed as by then new stamps were issued from Calcutta for use all over India. Hence, the relative scarcity of the blue specimen. The blue Scinde Dawk stamps came in several shades and they are also found with the blue dividing lines.
The Scinde Dawk stamps were supressed on 30 September 1854 and the reminders were ordered to be destroyed in October 1854. Inspite of several thousand stamps being used, during the period of 27 months, they have become very scarce - the red rarely comes across uncracked, being on a brittle wafer, and the unused white and blue specimen are rarely seen.
The issuance of the Scinde Dawk stamps from small province of India as the premier stamps, their designing and printing, in all is still somewhat mysterious unless further facts being explored and they come to light.
The postal reform of Sind (Scinde) was announced on 15 October 1851 and the stamp was issued on 1 July 1852. Providing necessary time for correspondence with Bombay, hardly six months time was left to get the stamps printed from England, which was too short a period to accomplish the task. The contemporary practice of sealing the flaps of the letters without sealing wax and embossing the same with a personal insignia was the fashion of the day and was prevalent in India also. The circumstantial evidence suggest that the embossing device, if not manufactured indigenously might have been brought from England from M/s De La Rue and Company Limited, but the stamps were embossed in India only.
Another sound logical theory cannot be ruled out thast in the absence of unused examples of Red Scinde Dawk stamps can it not be contemplated as a fact like copper tokens the exact postage was tendered at the post office and the stamp was embossed on the letter itself. The two single red stamps examples used one (double postage) letter, placed partially, one on the top of the other, shows a variation in the shade. This is very much possible because the seed lac when heated absorb extra carbon on the process bringing different shades in colour, the entire operation being manual. Again this leads to confirm the theory that the embossing were done at post office.
Another mystery engrosses the specialists, is the sequence of the issuance of the stamps. It is more likely that white was issued first, but being unsuitable at the post offices in the dark hours or in candlelight was followed by red. Failing in the trial the red being very brittle, the printer was ordered to print the surface in blue and then emboss the design similar to the white specimen.
It is apparent that white and red are of one design and the blue by some other. As the printer made their own die they differ from white in thicker lettering and the outer ring. It ensures that theory that white and red were indigenous while the blue was from England.
It was not clear why Sir Arthur ordered Sir Bartle Frere to issue stamps in Sciende and not for the whole Presidency of Bombay. It might be that the Governor could not convince his Court about his plan and that the Scinde was in his direct control, he authorised his power to prepare and issue postage stamps for Sciende only and to keep his name in history.
THE STAMPS OF INDIAN EMPIRE
First postage stamp of the Indian Sub-continent was introduced in 1 October 1854. With its introduction a unified postal rate was introduced.
The East India Company
The Post Office Commission, appointed in 1850, recommended the total abolition of the system of franking and the prepayment of postage stamps, to be obtained from London designed and printed, keeping similarity of design and colour of the British postage stamps. The Commission also recommended to create a post of Director General of Post Office. The Court of Directors, at their meeting in 15 December 1852, accepted the recommendation of the Commission. They, at the same time, disapproved the idea of procuring the stamps from England and insisted on the postage stamps being made in India, as the machinery at Calcutta was capable enough to produce stamps to meet the necessity of the requirements. They also discounted the idea of having a similar design and colour as British stamps. They also suggested, efforts should be made to find out if the Stamp Office at Calcutta could undertake preparing postage stamps and that the Arms of East India Company or the Crest could form a suitable design.
Accordingly the Government consulted Col. Forbes the Superintendent of Machinery at the Calcutta Mint on 23 April 1853 for the manufacture of stamps on their behalf. Col. Forbes set to work and on the lines of the Scinde Dak thought of trying the embossing process. He borrowed the 1835 Lion and Palm Tree design from the Gold Mohur of William IV and produced a half-anna design. Its designer was Mr. Flexman, Professor of Culture in Royal Academy, who was employed to curve a marble statue of Lord Warren Hastings in Calcutta.
The link between 27 April 1853 and 6 February 1854 - the day the note was prepared by George Plowden is missing, but this report gives a very gloomy picture of the progress made by Col. Forbes during this intervening period. He reported that Col. Forbs had succeeded in making a quadruple die out of the matrix die and give a perfect resemblance. On taking impression from this quadruple die out of matrix die it was found that the same was not sufficiently deep-cut and to achieve the same he experimented on the matrix die which in process was spoiled. A new matrix die had been prepared but the process of multiplying combined quadruple die had to be done through, though the principle of multiplying had been settled.
Governor General Lord Dalhousie became very impatient with the slow progress of the work and asked the Surveyor-General, if the postage stamps could not be prepared in his office more speedily. He expressed the view that it was desirable to produce stamps of simple description with Coat of Arms of Great Britain or Queen’s head as motif.
And here Capt. H.N. Thullier, Deputy Surveyor General, entered the scene. The enthusiasm of Capt. Thullier was so great that within two weeks he along with H.M. Smith produced the designs of four specimen stamps of half anna, one anna, 4 annas and 8 annas. Muniruddin, a draftsman, of the Surveyor’s office, did the engraving of the stamps, on the stone. In his memorandum of 20 April 1854, Capt. Thullier reported that a proper representation of Her Majesty’s head had been satisfactorily attained and after repeated trials, a bust had been drawn on transfer paper with the word ‘India’ at the top, ‘Half Anna’ at the bottom and nine and a half arches were set on both side of the stamp. had been engraved upon the stone as a standard and three blocks each with 120 transfers were laid on stone for printing. Then the stones were charged with English Vermillion lithographic ink, which was available with the office, and 300 triple sheets were struck and dispatched to Bombay by steamer on 5 April 1854 at the urgent request of the Director General.
The fresh supply of the ink obtained from the Stamp Office was found unsuitable and it destroyed the impressions on the stone and the prints came thickly smeared thereby losing the uniformity of the design. Further attempts were made to prepare Vermillion ink locally and it also spoiled the plates. The stamps sent earlier to Bombay was recalled.
After spoiling the standard prepared for nine and a half arches, Capt. Thullier had the design again prepared by Muniruddin, this time with eight arches on both sides. In the third attempt a new vertical border design of eight arches and other design remaining the same, was used to print new stamp. Half anna stamp was printed in blue.
At this stage it would be useful to describe the lithographic process adopted, in printing the first postage stamps in India;
a. The design was engraved in reverse on a copper plate,
b. The design was transferred on a transfer paper for duplication,
c. The design was transferred on the printing stone from the transfer paper with the help of greasy ink,
d. the stone is moistened and coloured with greasy ink,
e. Sheets of paper were pressed against the smeared surface of the stone and prints of the stamp obtained.
In May 1854, 1,250,000 stamps were delivered to the stamp Office at Calcutta and about 23 million by 14 July and yet no stamp was issued to the public before 15 September at Madras, 20 September in Calcutta and by November in Madras.
With the experience and confidence acquired after printing 30 million half-anna stamps Capt. Thullier began work on the 1 anna value with the more refined Indian vermilion ink. By 11 August 1854 he was able to produce some 22 million stamps of the value.
Capt. Thullier was absolutely burdened with the printing of the one-anna stamps and the plans to prepare the 4 annas bi-colour issue. But the Government with the idea of obtaining, some variety, entrusted this job to Mr. R.H. Snell, the Superintendent of Stamps at Calcutta Mint. At the Mint, Col. Forbes prepared a new design for the two-anna stamp and after approval a plate containing 10 x 8 = 80 stamps was prepared. These stamps were typographed and the entire lot, 7 million stamps was printed on 3 October 1854 and was put on sale from November at Madras and Bombay. The two-anna stamp was printed in green and four-anna stamp was printed in two colours red and green. All these stamps were prepared imperforated.
With the introduction of the postage stamps, a unified postal rate was introduced. It was ordered that any letter weighing half a tola could be sent anywhere of India at a minimum rate of 2 anna. Rates depended on the variation of weight of the letter.
In November 1855, a supply of perforated Indian stamps, printed by M/s. De La Rue and Company arrived India. The stamps were of half anna, 1 anna, 2 annas, 4 annas and 8 annas on white medium wove paper. The denominations of 4 annas and 8 annas were also printed on thick bluish glazed paper. The 2-anna value was first issued in pale yellow-green, but was hurriedly withdrawn from sale, because it was undistinguishable from half anna stamp in the dark. So, the stamp was later printed in dull pink, which after a certain period of use underwent the same fate as the earlier one, as it was often mixed up with the 8 annas under artificial light. So, again the stamp underwent change in colour and later yellow, buff and pale orange shades are also seen. The 4 annas printed in black were forged and lightly cancelled copies were reused. For this the stamp was printed in green again. The 8 annas value is found in several; shades ranging from pale to deep carmine.
In November 1855, a supply of perforated Indian stamps, that was the East India issues, printed M/s De La Rue & Co., arrived in India. They were printed in the denominations of ½ anna, 1 anna, 2 annas, 4 annas and 8 annas on white medium wove paper. The denominations of 4 annas and 8 annas were also printed on thick bluish glazed paper. Imperforates of both these values exist.
The two annas denomination was first issued in pale yellow green but was hurriedly withdrawn from sale because it was very difficult to distinguish it from the ½ anna denomination in the dark. So the printers were again asked to print the 2 annas denomination in some other colour. Though the 2 annas pale yellow green was not issued to the public yet used copies with trial cancellations have appeared in the market. The mint specimen though scarce also moves in the market. Imperforated copies also exist. A superb forgery of the 2 annas green, prepared by the world infamous forger Jean Esparati, has been seen and is very scarce.
Thus, the 2 annas was again printed in dull pink which after a certain period of use, underwent the same fate as the earlier one, as it was often mixed up with the contemporary 8 annas in artificial light So, once again the 2 annas underwent a change in colour and yellow, buff and pare orange shades of the denomination are also seen.
The 4 annas stamps were forged and being in black, the lightly cancelled copies, reused. This compelled the authorities to change the colour of the stamp to green. The 8 annas value is found in several shades ranging from pale to deep carmine.
Soldier’s letters from India to British colonies were carried free but the privilege was withdrawn on 18th August 1855 and a charge of nine pies per letter, if paid in cash, was levied or a stamp of the value of 8 pies to be affixed on each letter. This change brought about the issue of a special 8 pies in a new die. The design of the diadem was changed. The stamps, printed in purple and shades are available on white and bluish wove paper. Chemically treated forgeries of 8 pies on blue paper are often come across. Imperforates exist in the no watermarked series of ½ anna blue, 1 anna brown, 2 anna dull pink, 2 annas yellow buff, 2 annas orange, 4 annas black on white paper 4 annas and 8 annas on blue glazed paper and 8 pies purple on white. To the best of knowledge they were from the proof sheets sent to India Government from the printers M/s De La Rue Co, London.
In January 1866 the East India series were issued on paper watermarked ‘Elephant’s head’. All the denominations and basic colours were the same as the no watermarked series. Only two, viz. ½ anna blue and 2 annas orange in the series are known imperforated The 8 pie value is also known surcharged ‘Nine’ or ‘NINE PIE’ in red or black or both, but there are no official records ordering this surcharge. There is evidence that 8 pies stamps were sold at the counter for nine pies.
On July 1863, the postage rate for a letter weighing ½ tola to England via Marseilles was fixed at 6 annas 8 pies and so an order for the new value was placed with the printers. As the stock of 2 annas stamp in Calcutta became low, the deficiency was met by overprinting 6 annas Foreign Bill stamp with the words ‘postage’ at top. This was done at Calcutta. The overprint ‘postage’ was printed in a curved line, in green, and the upper and lower portions of the bill bearing the inscriptions ‘Foreign’ & ‘Bill’ respectively were cut off. There are two types of overprints on the foreign bills. The tall types are 3 mm. in height and the small 2 mm. Sometimes some horizontal lines in green are found at top and bottom of the stamp. These were the places marked for the cutting machine man, to cut off in the smaller types.
In 1866 the design of the 4 annas value was altered and a complete new design was made (Die I) and subsequently again retouched in 1877 (Die II) which can be differentiated by the rounded chin.
The design of the 8 annas value was changed in 1866. In the new design the diadem of the crown is completely changed and the letters of the inscriptions appear a little thicker.
The ½ anna stamp also underwent a change. It was retouched on the mouth of the queen, which made it more open, and a curve line added for making the nostril more distinct. Between 1866, five new denominations were added to the East India group viz. 9 pies, 6 annas, 6 annas 8 pies, 12 annas and Re. 1/-. The 6 annas 8 pies denomination was issued in May 1867 and discontinued from 1st April 1874, when the mail route via the Marseilles was abandoned, the remainder stock of these stamps, about 13,464 sheets was destroyed.
The 9 pies value is found in pale and bright mauve. This value was issued on 18th July 1874 and until its arrival, the post masters were directed to sell the value 8 pies for 9 pies and this order may have made possible the ‘nine pies’ surcharge on 8 pies value.
The one rupee value was issued in slate colour on 1st September 1874.
The six-anna value in two shades, olive bistre, and brown were issued on 19th August 1876. Very little use of this value was made being the obsolete denomination of the period.
The last stamp found in the East India period was 12 annas venetian red.
The East Indian Stamps were printed in sheets of 320 stamps and divided into 4 panes of 80 stamps each. The sheets had marginal inscriptions and plate number in the corners.
On renewing their contract for printing British Stamps in 1880 M/s De La Rue & Co., requested the authorities to standardize the stamps of India on the lines, just as the contemporary British postage stamps.
Queen Victoria – The Empress of India
When Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India on 1st January 1.877, a change was effected from ‘East India Company to ‘India postage’. In line with the existing printing plates and the perforation machines, the size of the stamps were standardized and a complete new set of designs were engraved. The watermark from Elephant’s head was changed to five-pointed star. The margins were without any inscriptions or plate numbers as was in the case of East India Company issues. The stamps being enlarged, the total stamps in a sheet were reduced from 320 to 240 in two panes of 120 each. The size of the stamp that was previously 22½ x 18 mm. was changed 22¼ mm. x 18¾ mm.
Besides these changes few new values were also added viz. 1½ anna, 3 annas & 4½ annas with a change in colours. The 9 pies value was first issued in rose and changed over to aniline carmine and was withdrawn from circulation in 1896 when the postal rate of soldier’s letters was changed from 9 pies to 1 anna. The one-anna value was originally issued in brown purple and then followed by plum. The new value 1½ anna was issued in Sepia. The 2 annas value is found in pale blue and blue and is also found with double impression like that of the ½ anna value. The 3 annas first appeared in orange and then changed to Brown orange. The 4 annas value was first issued in olive green and then in slate green. In yellow green a new value of 4 ½ annas was issued for K postage from India to England. The six annas value was prepared in new design in ochre but was adopted later for King Edward VII series, as a large stock of 6 annas East India series was found unsold. The 8 annas value was also issued in mauve to dull mauve and then in magenta. The 12 annas value was issued in coloured paper, purple on red and is also found printed in venetian red, like East India 12 annas, which are very rare. The one rupee value retained its earlier colour. A clever forgery of this denomination was made and successfully used for a long time before detection.
On 1st January 1891 the postage rate from India to England was reduced from 4 ½ annas to 2 ½ annas and consequently the 4½ annas stamp was surcharged down to 2 ½ annas. The surcharge was made at Calcutta and there are at least 11 varieties, these are 1) Misplaced stops; 2) Stop lowered or raised; 3) 2 of fraction ½ on the same level of 2; 4) lop letter ‘S’ broken; 5) Bottom letter ‘S’ broken; 6) Right let of ‘A’ broken; 7) Considerable shifting of whole surcharge; 8)1 of ½ from different format; 9) ‘5’ inverted; 10) Letter ‘A’ raised; 11) Letters ‘5’ and ‘stop’ dropped.
This provisional surcharged 2½ annas value was superceded by a new 2 ½ annas stamp issued in yellow green and subsequently on pale blue green. The one rupee forgery also necessitated the changes in colour of the stamp, which was issued in a bi-colour, viz, green rose or green and aniline carmine.
On 1st September 1895 the high values Rs. 2/-, Rs. 3/- & Rs. 5/- were issued printed in bi-colour viz. carmine and yellow brown, brown and green and ultramarine and violet. The shape of the stamps was larger, issued in 8 panes x 12 stamps i.e. 96 stamps in a sheet.
In 1898 with the reduction in the newspaper postage rate, quarter anna postage stamp was needed. So, the current ½ anna Victoria was surcharged ¼ at the Government Press in Calcutta. There are two variations of this surcharged value such as ‘Surcharge printed double’ and the stamp itself double.
This provisional stamp was replaced by 3 pies aniline carmine in 1899 and the design adopted for the head was based on the portrait by Von Angeli. This design was also adopted for the rupee values.
In conformity with the colours adopted by the members of the U.P.U. the colours of the Indian stamps were also changed as under:
3 pies carmine to grey, ½ anna green to yellow green.
1 anna plum to carmine, 2 annas blue to mauve.
2 ½ annas yellow green to ultramarine.
The 1882 series is very interesting. The later colour changes revives the interest of the specialists as it provides many interesting varieties, in the jubilee lines, appearing in the sheet margin. These appear in the sheets printed after 1897. Also the collectors are attracted to the two ‘rows of holes’ punched in the gutter margins between the two panes of the sheet. These holes were punched to avoid forgeries on the blank space of the gutter margins.
There are inverted watermarks of all the low values. Die proofs in black on glazed cards are known to exist of all values and proofs of some values exist in the issued colours.
The queen issues were demonetized on 31st August 1938.
King Edward VII
The basic designs of the King Edward series were the same as that of the Victorian series. The full set was issued upto the denomination of Rs. 25/-.
In the Edward series a small crown was added above the head of the king. Three values, viz.9 pies, 1½ annas and 4½ annas were dropped from this series and 4 new values were added viz.4 annas, Rs. 10/-, Rs. 15/- & Rs. 25/-. The colour scheme used for the set was more or less the same the Victorian series and the new values 6 annas printed in ochre, Rs. 10/- green & carmine, Rs. 15/- blue & olive brown and Rs. 25/- brownish orange and blue.
In this series the shortage of the value of 3 pies gray, created a necessity of overprinting ½ anna with ¼ anna, of which inverted surcharges are found.
Before 1906 there were separate revenue stamps of ½ anna and 1 anna denomination but it was decided to have unified stamps to serve both purposes. Hence, there were two additional stamps inscribed ‘India Postage and Revenue’ along with ‘India Postage’.
King Edward issues had the same number of stamps per sheet in both the high and low values, with the jubilee lines appearing in the sheet margins.
Die proofs in black on glazed cards are known to exist in all values as also the proofs of the Glazed Die cards of ‘Head’ & ‘Frame’ designs.
On 1st April1904 stamp booklets saw the light of the day the stamps of King Edward VII were also demonetized on 31st August 1938 along with the Victorian issues.
The King George V watermarked single star, were me last of the series that were printed by M/s De La Rue & Co. Ltd. Almost all the values up to Re. 1/- denomination abound in various shades in each value. In this series the 1½ annas denomination stamp was reintroduced. This stamp was originally issued as 1½ annas but was subsequently corrected to 1½ annas. Mysteriously, there appeared two different designs of the 2 ½ annas.
King George V
a. De La Rue & Co. Series
In 1921 the increased postal rates gave way to the 9 pies surcharge on the 1 anna stamp.
For the extensive demand of the 3 pies value, mainly required to meet up the additional surcharge on the post cards, the postal rates from 3 pies to 6 pies, ‘¼’ was surcharged on the ½ anna value. Overprint inverted is found of this value. The surcharges were struck in Calcutta, Bombay, Madras and Karachi. The first printing made at Calcutta had no control marks, but 8 different settings are known to be printed. Bombay had 2 settings with control marks B & B2, Calcutta had 4 settings C1a, C2, C3 & C4. Karachi had control mark ‘K’ and Madras had a control mark ‘M’. Besides other varieties ‘Hooked’ or ‘Sloped’ serif to figure 1 of ¼ are also seen of this surcharge, surcharge omitted in pair with normal, are the other varieties.
Between 1922-26 four values underwent colour changes, viz. 1 anna carmine to chocolate, 1½ annas chocolate to rose carmine, 2½ annas ultramarine to orange and 3 annas from orange brown to ultramarine. In the De La Rue series a minor variety exists in the 3 pies value; a line joining the P & S pies as read as Rs.
The ½ anna value exists with a double print. This has been extensively forged. The 1 anna carmine is known to exist imperforated. Marginal letters ‘Star Paper’ are also noticed on the stamps possibly due to the shifting of paper size the course of printing.
The One anna value in the George V series were printed in sheets of 256 stamps in 4 panes (4x64) stamps each. The sheet margins have jubilee lines.
All values exist with ‘cancelled’ overprint and 1 anna, 2½ annas, 3 annas, 6 annas & 12 anna are found imperforated with the words ‘cancelled’. Six different booklets were issued in the De La Rue series.
b. India Security Press, Nasik
Though a proposal to print Indian Postage Stamps in India was first mooted in 1914, the war off an enquiry in the possibility of this venture. In 1923, the Government of India published a in which the printing of Indian Postage Stamps and currency notes in the country was felt and Nasik, a town 100 miles north-east of Bombay, was selected as a site, because of its climate. The recommendation was accepted and a press was erected at Nasik. By 1st April Nasik started in full swing and the job was begun with the old stamp plates handed over by M/s La Rue & Co. to the India Security Press, Nasik.
The only change which effected the stamps printed was a different type of paper with the watermark ‘Multiple Stars’ from the earlier single Star. In the De La Rue issues there were 256 Stars as watermarks, one star to appear in one stamp and in the multiple star sheets of Nasik contained 964 Stars, smaller in size and appearing throughout the sheets including its margins.
The basic designs of the stamps remained the same as the De La Rue issues. The only significant change was the addition of words ‘India Postage & Revenue’ instead of ‘India Postage’ in 2 annas & 4 ennas values.
For the facility in manufacturing stamp booklets, the stamps of the 1 anna & 2 annas denominations exist in tete-beche. These are common. The 6 annas value was dropped in the first series.
In British Empire, India is the first country to issue a special set of airmail stamps of six denominations viz. 2 annas, 3 annas, 4 annas, 6 annas, 8 annas and 12 annas. All of these values exist An several distinct shades. The changes in the shades of 4 annas & 6 annas values are remarkable, as they appear as if 4 annas printed in the colour of 6 annas. The stamps were printed in sheets of 144 (12 x 12). Though the date of issue was supposed to be 1st November 1929, a large number of letters received in England from India bore the date 22nd October 1929. The stamps were designed by Mr. R. Grant, a Calcutta artist. In the beginning the 2 annas was not included in the set but subsequently, 20th December it was included as the Indian Airmail stamp.
The two characteristic varieties in the 8 annas value found are i) the missing tree top, ii) the second ‘i’ of India has a serif. Only one printing was made of the series and it was sold to the public up to 1942
The commemorate the Inauguration of New Delhi as the Capital of the Government of India the first commemorative set of India was issued, the first of its kind after the pictorial Airmail Series, in the monotonous head type of Kings and Queens. All the values exist with centre blurred or double varieties and in the ¼ anna value ‘F’ instead of ‘P’ in the words ‘Purana Quilla’. This series was also printed in sheets of 144 stamps.
With the change in postal rates on 25th February 1932 three new values viz. 9 pies dark green 1 ¼ annas Mauve and 3½ annas dark blue were issued. The colour of 2 annas from purple blue was changed to vermilion and the 3 annas from light blue to carmine.
The new stamps were released on 22nd April 1932. The 9 pies value was printed in offset lithography and typography and the 3½ annas value printed by lithographic process. All other values were done by the typographic process.
The 1¼ annas stamp is the most interesting of this group being printed in three different sizes, viz. 18-1/8 mm, 18½ mm and 18¼ mm. A study of this stamp for its measurement is best done by comparing its block of 4 annas the sizes of the respective stamps are revealed very clearly.
From 1st April 1934 again separate stamps were issued for revenue purposes. Four values, viz. 44 anna, 1 anna, 2 annas and 4 annas were issued with revised inscriptions of ‘Postage & Revenue’. The two annas and four annas were printed from the old plates but new plates were used for the ½ anna and 1 anna and designs of both were reduced the process being a photographic reduction. These new plates were prepared at Nasik as they were finding it difficult to perforate the stamps printed from the English plates the space between the stamps being small.
The Silver Jubilee stamps were also printed in sheets of 144 stamps (12 x 12). In 1936 the new small die of 2 annas stamp was issued. The die was completely re-engraved with the size of the stamp measuring 18.4 mm x 21 mm instead of 19 x 22½ mm. The new die has fewer shading lines In the background and the face particularly the neck, cheek and nose. There are five lines instead of seven above the crown but the most distinguishing feature of this small die is two lines instead of three on the king’s forehead. This was the stamp in the King George V series.
In the 2nd Nasik series the number of stamps per sheet, first issued were 256 stamps and in all later printings 320 stamps per sheet. The rupee values were printed in sheets of 96 stamps as before but there was a change effected in setting, viz. instead of being set up in 8 panes of 12 stamps each, the sheet consisted of 4 panes of 12 stamps, two at the top and two at the bottom with two panes of 14 stamps each in the centre. In the last printings of the rupee values the setting was again changed, viz. the sheets consisted of 120 stamps instead of 96 stamps i.e. 6 panes of 20 stamps.
The anna value sheets of 256 stamps had the jubilee lines but there were no jubilee lines in the sheets of 320 stamps.
Due to paper fold while printing the one rupee value, -a major error of head missing, very popularly known as ‘Missing Monarch’, the most striking and a neat variety of the King George V issues resulted. It is said that, at the very sight of this major variety, King George V, a very keen collector, exclaimed, ‘Have I lost my head for nothing!’.
The tete bache pair is found in 1 anna & 2 annas values of this series and these were made for the convenience of manufacturing stamp booklets. This variety occurs on all the four panes of the sheet, the third and fourth, two of each panes being inverted, vertical pairs or rows two and three made the tete beche.
King George VI Issues
The original basic designs of the 1937 series were based upon the designs drawn by Archer. The new set was issued, in as many as, eight large pictorial stamps, depicting the different modes of transport, for carrying mails in India. The denominations issued were 2 annas, 2½ annas, 3 annas 3½ annas, 4 annas, 6 annas, 8 annas and 12 annas and showed as their designs a Dak Runner, Dak Bullock Cart, Dak Camel, Mail Train, Mail Steamer, Mail Lorry and Mail Aeroplane. The four low values were 3 pies, 6 pies, 4 pies and 1 anna and again in the 1 anna value there were tete beche pairs in the sheet for the booklets. The rupee values were in the same style as India’s previous issues.
The original basic designs of the 1937 series were based upon the designs drawn by Archer. The new set was issued, in as many as, eight large pictorial stamps, depicting the different modes of transport, for carrying mails in India. The denominations issued were 2 annas, 2½ annas, 3 annas 3½ annas, 4 annas, 6 annas, 8 annas and 12 annas and showed as their designs a Dak Runner, Dak Bullock Cart, Dak Camel, Mail Train, Mail teamer, Mail Lorry and Mail Aeroplane. The four low values were 3 pies, 4 pies, 6 pies, and 1 anna and again in the 1 anna value there were tete beche pairs in the sheet for the book1ets. The rupee values were in the same style as India’s previous issues. The low values were printed in sheets of 320 stamps, the larger pictorial values in sheet of stamps and the rupee values in sheets of 120 stamps in 6 annas of 20 stamps each. The one booklets were also made.
India joined the British Empire countries in the victory celebrations and issued a speci commemorative set of 4 stamps to celebrate the victory. The set was issued to the public on 2u January 1946 and sold over the counter for full one year. They were issued in sheets of 128 stamps (16 x 8) and were issued in the denominations of 9 pies, 1½ anna, 3 ½ annas & 12 annas. This was the last stamp series issued during the British Rule.
However, due to war emergency, shortage of paper, the large pictorials were discontinued and the entire set was redrawn and issued in small size stamps. The new values that were added were 1 anna 3 pies and 14 annas due to the increase in the inland envelopes and postage rates from mail to England. The value of 14 annas was also used in Indian airgraphs up to the time when 8.anna value was taken over, as the postage rates were reduced.
Besides, in total 43 stamps were issued for the Military Forces engaged in several expeditions outside India.
Political upsurge brought about the partition of India in 15 August 1947, breaking the Indian Empire into two separate nations, Pakistan and Bharat (India).
THE PAKISTAN ERA
Since the British Traders snatched power in 1757 from the Muslim Rulers of Indian Sub-continent, discontent grew up and prevailed among the Muslim population. The demand of seperate homeland for over 100 million Muslims of the sub-continent gained ground during the late ninteenth century. It became imperative for the Muslims to demand separate homeland due to the cummunal discrimination and hatred found more vivid among the Rulers after the War of Liberation of 1857.
That Pakistan would after all be a reality had come to be finally known only on June 1947, a litle over two months before the proposed date of independence. Though a seperate homeland for the Muslim population of British India were heard during the World War and it was openly voiced at the Lahore Resolution of 1940. Even so, when the matters of cessesion of Indian Sub-Continent were prepared and formal handing over of assets was made, Pakistan was greatly deprived of their share and many bilateral contacts were not kept by the then independent India. After the partition, India did not change its name and had no problem in using the postage stamps of British India they had for the time being and as they had their own security printing press they had no problem in printing their own postage stamps quickly.
The matter was different in the case of Pakistan. As within that short time Pakistan could not print its own postage stamps, it had to use the stamps of British India with the name Pakistan over-printed on those. It had to print its own stamp to make them known in the world that they are a separate nation. It was agreed Indian Security Printers was assigned to overprint the word ‘Pakistan’ on the postage stamps of British India. They only printed a small amount initially, but it was not possible to collect the huge stock of postage stamps lying in the post offices and treasuries of Pakistan and print them over-night. Therefore, Pakistan arranged to print their lots by themselves. The lot of postage stamps overprinted by Indian Security printers came also did not reach Pakistan in time and in the mean time, after 14 August the government asked the people to use the stamps
The delay of printing the postage stamps is understandable in the context of the problems and difficulties the new nation faced in the first year. It was marked by tremendous upheaval following the mass migration of over ten million Muslims from India. Their resettlement was a gigantic problem and the new government was busy with this task that the issuing of postage stamps featured low on their list of priorities. Besides the areas then comprised Pakistan was under-developed, administrative centres and workers from highest post to the lowest rank were mismanaged and were haphazad, political leaders and their heirarchy were not well defined.
In spite of these mounting problems, the channels of communication had to remain operative and for this the postal services had to be kept going. In every step postal communication and postage stamps were needed urgently. The government had no security printing press of its own, nor was any private enterprise there that could provide security printing services to the Government. The first Pakistani stamps were issued in July 1948, to commemorate the birth of a new nation.
Since the independence the Government machinary to control the territory of Pakistan started planning to issue new postage stamps of Pakistan. But the process took a long time to materialise. Therefore just before 14 August 1947 it was decided to overprint existing 20 value definitive postage stamps bearing the portrait of King George VI changing the name from ‘India’ to ‘Pakistan’. The stamps were 3p, 6p, 9p, 1 anna, 1½ anna, 2 anna, 3 anna, 3½ anna, 4 anna, 6 anna, 8 anna, 12 anna, 14 anna, 1 rupee, 2rupees, 5 rupees, 10 rupees, 15 rupees and 20 rupees . The prevalent currency units were made up of pie, anna and rupee, with 12 pies making one anna and 16 annas making one rupee. The overprint was done in English.
The overprint was done by the India’s only security printing press at Nasik, Bombay. But before the stock reached the then capital Karachi, the statehood of Pakistan was declared and to start with it was ordered to use the existing postage stamps of British India by hand-stamping them. The overprinted stamps reached Pakistan by September and were issued on 1 October 1947, 48 days after the Partition. In the meantime Pakistan Post and Telegraph Department started to overprint existing British Indian stamps from different printing presses of major cities, like Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad etc. Though the Postal Authority categorically specified the type style, but the prints varied in depth and density as the the type used due to the difference of foundery form where the metal types were made and also its ‘life’ in printing. Varieties also existed due to colour of ink used for printing.
The first definitive stamps of Pakistan were issued in 14 August 1948, based on seven designs, one of which represented East Pakistan. The stamps were designed by Abdur Rahman Chughtai, which mark the first anniversary of independence. The 3p (in red), 6p (in violet) and 9p (in green) values showed a pair of scales. The 1 anna (in blue), 1-½a. value (in blue-green) and 2a had the crescent and star facing north-east (A post office publication claimed this design is approved personally by Muhammad Ali Jinnah). The 2-½a. 3-½a. and 4a. stamps showed the Lloyds Barrage (later known as Ghulam Mohammad Barrage or Kotri Barrage). The 3a. green and the 10a. scarlet had a full view of the Karachi airport building, while the 6a., 8a. and 12a. stamps showed a view of the Salimullah Muslim Hall at Dhaka.
The rupee value stamps shared two designs among them. The lowest values, i.e. Re.1, Rs.2 and Rs.5 showed another view of the Salimullah Muslim Hall at Dhaka, while the three higher values, i.e. Rs.10, Rs.15 and Rs.25 depicted Kaghan valley with a winding road passing through it. Out of these 16 stamps only 6 stamps had picture of only one building that represents East Pakistan .
Famous artist Abdur Rahman Chughtai designed one of these stamps; the other designers were by Mian Mahmood Ahmed Suhrawardi, Rashiduddin and M.A. Latif. The stamps were printed by Thomas De La Rue and Company of England, because Pakistan still did not have a security printing press of its own.
The design of these stamps was a combination of political, ideological and historical motif. These stamps were inscribed with the legend ‘15 August 1948’ (First anniversary?) testifying to the confusion that prevailed in contemporary officialdom. Whatever the stamp said, the date on which Pakistan emerged as an independent country is August 14 (and not 15).
The cobalt-blue 1½ anna stamp showed the Constituent Assembly building, where the last Governor-General of undivided India, Lord Louis Mountbatten, was present at the session held here on the night of August 13, 1947. Lord Mountbatten formally announced the creation of Pakistan and read out the King’s commission appointing Mohammad Ali Jinnah as Pakistan’s Governor-General.
As was said earlier that Pakistan did not have security printing press of its own and due to the deprivation and aninimity grew between the two countries, Pakistan and India, Pakistan did not take the opportunity to print their stamps from the Security printer of the neighbour. They printed their stamps from Thomas De La Rue of London.
The next set of styamps issued in 1 February 1949 consisted of 1 anna, 1 1/2 anna, 2 anna, 3 anna, 6 anna, 8 anna, 10 anna and 12 anna. They had three designs, all derived from the designs of the stamps of 1948, but with one difference. In this set the direction of the crescent was changed from north east to north-west. After the first stamps were issued it was found that direction of the cresent placed in the stamps (north-east) was astronomically incorrect.
The next stamp was issued on 11 September 1949 to commemorate the first death anniversary of Jinnah.
An analysis showing subjectwise distribution of the stamps issued by Pakistan will explain about the discrimination done by the Pakistan rulers.Only one stamp represented the view off East Pakistan.
Just from its birth the Pakistan rulers started to discriminate with the people of Eastern part. They started to exploite its people with the economy at the first instant, industry, agriculture education on the other, language, literature, culture on the third and even more. The subject is not to be discussed here. Even the Pakisten rulers did not spare the postage stamps they issued during the long 24 years of Pakistan’s history.
Table 7: Subjectswise data of stamps issued by Pakistan
Years E. Pak % W. Pak % Intl. Events % National % Total
1947-51 3 4.7 19 29.8 - - 42 65.5 64
1952-56 11 29.8 24 64.7 - - 2 6.4 37
1957-61 12 34.2 12 34.2 7 20.1 4 11.5 35
1962-66 12 15.3 39 50.0 20 25.5 7 10.2 78
1967-71 13 15.8 14 17.5 43 52.6 12 14.1 82
Total 51 17.2 108 36.4 70 23.6 67 22.8 296
From the above table it may be seen that during the whole 24 years Pakistan issued 296 different stamps, of which only 51 stamps were issued with subjects related to East Pakistan, which is only 17.2 % of the total. Whereas 108 stamps were issued with subjects depicting West Pakistan, which in 36.4% of the total. In other word, this figure is more than double of East Pakistan’s figure. Most striking feature is that only one Bengali personality was honoured in Pakistan stamp. A set of two stamps was issued on 1968 in honour of poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. The stamps were supposed to be issued in poet’s birth anniversary in May, but due to an error, it was postponed and later was published in June after correction. But even then there was some mistake in the stamps.
If we look into the stamps of Pakistan period carefully we see that since the Partition in 1947, Pakistan Authority always looked down upon the people of East Pakistan and always tried to subjugate its people in any trifle way they could find. As told earlier, on 9 July 1948, four stamps were issued and on 14 August 1948, 20 more stamps were issued. None of these stamps had Bangla language in it.
Until 1954, Pakistan in total issued 94 stamps, out of which only 8 stamps showed picture of East Pakistan (6 stamps showing Salimullah Muslim Hall and one stamp showing tea garden and another showing riverine scene). In 1955, only two stamps showed paper mill and jute mill of East Pakistan. In 1956, Pakistan issued a 2 anna stamp which included one Bangla word (in fact only the denomination of the stamp ‘2 anna’ was included in the lower right corner of the sttamp and was written crookedly). On 14th August, 3 stamps showed map of East Pakistan. Since then Pakistan issued only 40 stamps which showed subjects related to East Pakistan.
Most striking feature, to be worth mentioning, is that with the introduction of decimal currency in 1961, Pakistan issued 16 definitive stamps showing Khaiber Pass and Shalimar Garden, they never used any East Pakistan scene. Besides, the name Pakistan in Bangla script was not written properly, anybody who knows Bangla script should get infuriated to see this script, which was later changed after repeated protest.
The area now comprises Bangladesh came into being in 14 August 1947. It was named East Bengal until 1956 and then it was renamed East Pakistan. Since 1947, the people of this area started using stamps issued by Pakistan, until 16 December 1971, when ‘East Pakistan’ had to sever all relation with Pakistan and assumed the name ‘Bangladesh’ and were liberated from the occupational forces.
Postal Service and Stamps of Bangladesh during Liberation War : An Untold Story
After the British Indian Empire was divided into two separate independent states - India and Pakistan in 1947, the area now comprise Bangladesh, was known as East Pakistan, as a part of Pakistan. After Pakistan Armed Forces cracked-down over its people in the midnight of 25 March 1971, Bangladesh declared independence in 26 March. Since then unarmed civilians along with a few members of the military, semi-military and auxiliary forces joined together to fight against fully-equipped and experienced Pakistan Army. The war, either in the battlefield, or in political arena, was not an easy one. The people of Bangladesh paid their last drop of blood to gain independence. They had to fight back on the one side and speak out their own story to influence world conscience and to press demand to recognize their nation as independent and sovereign on the other. Different eminent personalities went round the globe to motivate world leaders and the government. Many rejoinders, letters, pamphlets and notices were distributed to arouse public sentiment in favour of Bangladesh. But these were not enough. Every concerned authority wanted to make sure of the fact that Bangladesh is really a nation, in the true sense of the term. They wanted to be sure of the fact that Bangladesh has a definite area of its own, a population who are dedicated to its land, a democratic government upon which most of the people have their support and shall have its own sovereignty.
What proves a nation's sovereignty other than an area, a population and a government? The people and the members of the government should have their daily activity performed systematically and legally. According to the then Pakistan Government, the people of the then East Pakistan, were acting normally under their rule. Whereas the Bangladesh authority claimed that the people of this area are paying allegiance to the Bangladesh Government and NOT to Pakistan Government. Naturally one of the two parties is telling the truth. Only proof is that how the people and the Government machinery were working? The world wanted to see it by the issuance of postage stamps and their use in the correspondences. The more variety and wide range of correspondence, the greater is the proof that the area is under the control of the stamp issuing authority.
If not irrelevant, examples may be shown. Though the United Nations Headquarters is situated in the heart of New York City of the United States, it uses its own postage stamps and NOT the US stamps, likewise, Vatican City, though situated in the heart of Rome, uses Vatican postage stamps, as its sovereignty lies with the Holy See, NOT with the Italian Government.
During the Liberation War, the people, who supported the independence, wanted to restore usual communication in favour of Bangladesh Government and tried to establish already-disrupted postal communication of both the urban and rural areas. The Pakistan Armed Forces, on the other hand, along with their supporters, only succeeded in keeping regular communication among bigger cities, but they could only reach some of the far flanked smaller townships, let aside thousands of villages.
The Bangladesh Government in-exile was formed on 10 April 1971, in a small village Bhaberpara of Kushtia District. It was named Mujibnagar, after the idol of the Liberation War, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It was very interesting to note that Mujibnagar was only a few miles apart of Plassey, where the East India Company defeated Nawab Sirajuddawla, the last independent ruler of Bengal (along with Bihar and Orissa) in 1757.
The Postal Service
After the army crackdown on 25th March, The Pakistani army met fierce armed resistance in Chittagong, Jhenidah, Jessore and in some other parts of north Bengal, but for lack of proper command, ammunitions, this resistance soon subsided. By the end of April the Pakistani Army captured all the major towns of Bangladesh. A fully chaotic and confused situation presided over this period, with thousands of people crossing the border everyday, in fear. News of death and destraction appeared in all the new papers of India, especially of Calcutta.
In the Philatelic Arena, several stamp dealers in Calcutta realized the commercial advantage of this chaotic situation in Bangladesh. As the Mujibnagar Government at that time was re-arranging its administration, in the early stages, it did not have a fully administrable postal service. This situation was taken full advantage of by some stamp dealers in Calcutta. On this event the seals and name-stamps showing names of various Field Post Offices constituting the name of some places adjacent to the border with India, were prepared. Using this seals various philatelic covers were prepared. Whatever stocks of Pakistani stamps the dealers had were overprinted in a local press in Calcutta. The covers bore addresses of Muktibahini divisions, and personal addresses. Delivery stamp impressions for these covers were obtained from different border post offices of India namely Bongaon. In order to ensure the validity and publicity of these covers a freelance Photographer Mr. Pranab Mukherjee was contacted, he being a freelance photographer and a press reporter, made arrangements for publication of photos of covers supposedly received and delivered by various filed post offices. Some covers were addressed directly to the newspaper editors who upon receiving them published them in their new papers. Table 1 shows the list of news papers and date of publication of the news.
Table 8: Showing News of Bangladesh Postal Service appearing in the Indian News papers
Name of Newspapers
Language Publication Date Place of Issue
Amrita Bazar Patrika English 27 April 1971 Calcutta
Dainik Jugantar Bangla 22 April 1971 Calcutta
Ananda Bazaar Patrika Bangla 27 April 1971 Calcutta
The Statesman English 27 April 1971 Calcutta
English 8 May 1971 Bombay
Some postally-used covers were also found with specially hand-canceled "Mail Carried by Bangladesh Mukti Fauz" used from Darsana, Meherpur, Chadanga and Benapole. After inspecting these covers one can very likely draw inference that these were prepared specially for international publicity and commercial benefit. After the news of these FPO covers, prepared for the world philatelist market, were unearthed, suspicion aroused about their authenticity and whether all these FPOs did really existed. Such suspicion was practically exposed in April 1971 issue of Calcutta-based philatelic monthly “Stamp Digest” :
Our attention has been drawn to the news appearing in Calcutta newspapers with photographs of stamps of Bangladesh overprinted in Bengali or English or both on Pakistani stamps with these stamps and franked with blacked rubber circular seals reading ‘BANGLADESH MUKTI FOUZ . . . DARSANA or CHUADANGA or MEHERPUR etc, with delivery postmarks on back of Bongaon (a border town in West Bengal) or various Calcutta Post Offices. So far we have failed to obtain their bonafides or authenticity. According to an officer of the PMG, West Bengal Circle, no mailbag has been exchanged in the month of April . . . . . . On the other hand an officer of the Bangladesh Mission in Calcutta informs us that they have on information of any postage stamps of Bangladesh having been issued by their Government or the Liberation Forces . . .
The matter was also informed to the Post Master General of West Bengal Circle, who issued a circular banning the acceptance of such FPO covers for delivery cancellation. Following news-item was published in the May 1971 issue of the same Stamp Digest :
It is reliably informed that the Post Master General, West Bengal Circle has drawn attention of the post masters of various post offices in his circle to the Bogus Bangladesh Stamps being used on mails, by some philatelic dealers who have obtained Pakistani stamps and overprinted them with Bangladesh and have used them to obtain the date stamp impression of the post offices in border and in Calcutta area . The post masters have been asked not to recognize if any such article is found posted in the office with any stamp other than Indian postage stamps. Such articles will be treated and dealt accordingly.
The Bangladesh Government in-exile established an External Services Department, headed by Barrister Moudud Ahmed. Other members of the department were Quamrul Hassan, Artist of international repute, artist Nitun Kundu and Mr. Ashraf Ali Chowdhury. Mr. L.N. Misra of India was requested to act as a consultant. Barrister Moudud Ahmed after assuming the responsibility, started to set up field post offices in the liberated areas and establish postal routes from one liberated unit to other. With the establishment of such field post offices, Mr. Ahmed tried to reach the common people and to assist them in the war. He appointed Mr. M.A. Aziz as Special Officer of Mujibnagar Post Office. Mr. Aziz was the District Commissioner of Rajshahi District during Pakistan regime. Mr. Nurul Islam was appointed Postmaster and Mr. A.K.M. Idris Ali was appointed Postal Superintendent. Mr. Idris Ali was an officer of Narayanganj Post Office before the war started. With their combined efforts, in total five field post offices were set up at Kashipur and Benapole at Jessore district and Mujibnagar (Bhaberpara), Meherpur and Darsana at Kushtia District during the month of April and May 1971.
By mid-April 1971, various philatelic and commercial ventures were undertaken by local stamp dealers in Calcutta to overprint Pakistani stamps, both of definitive and commemorative nature. During this time almost entire stock of stamps looted from the Meherpur treasury, were handed over to the Mujibnagar Government. A large stock of which was overprinted by the Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) at Chuadanga. But the entire stock was destroyed by sudden shelling of the Pakistan Army . Chuadanga came under Pakistan Army control on 17 April 1971, a week after the Mujibnagar Government was formed. B.B. Shahi in his article ‘Provisional Stamps of Bangladesh’ gives an account on how such Pakistan stamps reached Mujibnagar Government :
It was revealed that a philatelic officer of Dacca G.P.O., somehow managed to escape the Pakistani slaughter with the old commemorative stamps that were in stock of Dacca Treasury and handed over to the Bangladesh Authority for overprinting. Therefore, the stamps now being used in the Northern and Eastern regions of Bangladesh are mostly commemoratives and large pictorials.
By the end of May, 1971, after the Mujibnagar Government had fully formed its Secretariat at 8 Theatre Road (presently Shakespeare Sarani) in Calcutta new initiatives were taken to make the postal department operational under the Ministry of Transport and Communication.
From “The report of the administrative reconstruction & legisture system” published by planning cell of the Mujibnagar Government on 13th December 1971, it is observable that the postal administration, was established under the ministry of Transport and Communication. Under this ministry, the department of civil aviation & Communication was controlled. This department was responsible for the administration of the ‘Posts & Telegraphs department.’ The entire ministry of transport and communications was headed by a Cabinet minister assisted by two deputy ministers,. The secretariate division was as follows:
Table 9 : Secretariate Division, Ministry of Transport and Communications
Joint Secretary 1
Deputy Secretary 4
Under Secretaries 8
Section officers 1
The Directorate General Posts and Telegraphs, was headed by Director General Posts and Telegraphs (4). It is observable that not all the posts in the Directorate General Posts and Telegraphs department was filled up. From the various records that has so far come to light, following names of persons and their related posts in the Directorate Generals office of the Postal Administration has been observed.
Table 10: Names and their posts in the Directorate Generals office of the Postal Administration
Name Posts held
1. Mr. Moudud Ahmed Postmaster General
Mujibnagar Postal Administration
2. Mr. M. A. Aziz Special Officer, P. & T Department
3. Mr. K. M. Idris Ali Superintendent of Post offices
4 Mr. Nurul Islam Postmaster
Central Post Officer Mujibnagar.
5. Sharif Ahmed Postmaster, Field Post Officer No 14
The post of the Director General, Posts and Telegraphs, remained vacant during the liberation. Also names of other employees and postmasters and mail runners, carriers could not be collected due to insufficient information.
Bangladesh Postal Administration established Field Post offices, along with the existing post offices in the liberated areas, adjacent to the border areas with India, from early June. On replying a letter of Mr Kenneth F. Chapman Editor of “Stamp Collecting”, The postmaster reports:
“In the liberated areas we are providing a general and official Postal Service using the Post Offices we control. Also for the Army, the Mukti Fouj has established a number of Field Post offices, which enable the soldiers to communicate with their families in other liberated areas or in India.”
The Postmaster General of Majibnagar postal Administration, Mr Moudud Ahmed, also in a letter to John Stone House, States about the successful operation of the postal administration, he wrote:
The postal service in the liberated areas however is functioning very smoothly. In the raomari area a postal zone has been established with 8 post offices and one Sub-post office. This covers a huge area in the north with 500,000 people residing. The post office is at Haomari as the Headquarter and the Branch Post offices are at Datbhanga, Tapunchar, Showlmari, Jadurchar, Rajibpour Mohanganj and Makunchar.
The newly established post offices were provided with a code number thus maintaining the secrecy of the placement, or where it is being used. The mails were carried in blue cloth or leather bags, duely wax sealed. They were carried by armed mail carriers of the liberation Forces Communication wing. Wherever possible the mails were also carried on motorcycle, bi-cycle, jeep or boats. The carriers were given certain code words, using which they were cleared at all posts manned by liberation forces.
Before the re-organization of the postal administration, the mailbags were dispatched to the mearestIndian Post Office for mails of India and abroad. From June onwards, the arrengement was re-organised, and all the mail bags from F.P.O’s were dispatched at the central Post office, Mujibnagar, situated at the Mujibnagar secretariat 8 Theater Road (Now Shakespeare Sarani) Calcutta. The Central post office after sorting the mails, handed them over to the Indian Authorities. Even though the distribution of mails within India was settled with the Indian Posts & Telegraph Department, Bangladesh postal administration suffered various drawbacks for the displacements of International mail, which was in fact caused by the restrictions imposed by the U.P.U. The post master General, Mr Moudud Ahmed in a letter to John Stone House adds:
In the meantime I had a discus on with the Indian External affairs Ministry with regard to the transmitting of our letters. Because of the International Postal Union rules they say that it will not be possible for them to maintain the arrangement that was previously made. However, fresh arrangements are being made to settle this matter but goodness knows how long it will take.
After the first definitive stamps were released, letters affixed with these stamps and cancelled from different F.P.O’s were sent to various important persons, media personalities, editors of newspapers & periodicals around the world. A letter advising the P.M.G. Moudud Ahmed, was sent by John Stonehouse M.P in this regard.
It is difficult to asses the total number of post offices (including Field Post Offices established by the Mujibnagar postal administration, as no official record of this has come to light. No record of this or of any list has yet been published. However during the war, accounts of some philatelists and eye witnesses were published in the Calcutta based Philatelic periodical “Stamp Digest” A rough sketch of the district wise distribution of the Field Post Offices'’ and civil post offices, can be formed from these sources, which suggests, that the number of post offices increased or decreased with the changing condition of the war. Bibash Gupta in his Article “My visit to Bangladesh” published an account of the pot offices then operating in the liberated areas (13). He adds:
Arrangements are being made to open 100 new post offices in the newly liberated areas. The 32 post offices now operating are located as:
Table 11 : List of Field Post Offices in Each district
Name of the District
Number of P.O
Khulna District 6
Jessore District 7
Kushtia District 5
Pabna District 2
Rajshahi District 3
Rangpour District 2
Comilla District 2
Chittagong Hill tracts 2
Of the 48 Field Post Offices run by the Liberation Forces only 10 are located in the liberated zones and remaining 30 F.P.O’s are run deep inside enemy occupied territories by the guerillas and are identified by a separate number given to each one to them. They are all controlled by the Central Base Post Office of the Liberation Forces, at Mujibnagar”
B.B Shahi and Nishith Kar in their articles have given a list of post offices operated by the Mujibnagar Postal Administration, from which this following combined list has been prepared :
Table 12 List of Field Post Offices in aach district as cited by B.B Shahi and Nishith Kar
Name of the District
Post Offices established
in the District Numbers of P.O.
1. Kushtia District Mujibnagar, Chuadanga,
Jiben nagar, Meherpur, Darshana 5
2. Jessore Mistrict Benapole, Jhikargacha, Kasipur 3
3. Khulna District Debhata 1
4. Mymensingh Dist. Dewanganj, Haluaghat 2
5. Dinajpur District Bindola 1
6. Rangpour District Patgram, Chlmari, Rahumari,
Ulipore, Kurigram 5
7. Sylhet District Bholaganj 1
8. Chittagong Hill Tracts Ramgarh 1
9. Comilla District Madhabpur 1
10. Noakhali District Belonia 1
From this list, we find the total number of post offices is 21 but eventually this list is not complete as it does not include other numbered post offices, or the post offices established according to the list of Bibash Gupta discussed earlier.
The post offices established by the Mujibnagar Postal Administration, worked in full swing through the whole period of the liberation war, upto late December just after the independence on 16th December. From 3rd December, the final war started, when, India recognized Bangladesh as a sovereign nation, and joined the war. With the help of the Indian Armed Forces, with Lt Gen J.S Aurora as Chief of Staff of the Joint Command of the Indian & Bangladesh Liberation forces, the Muktibahini was given all the facilities of the Indian army postal sevice.
Local communication services were restored in these areas for the time being for the benefit of the freedom fighters chiefly and could not be maintained regularly and were hampered due to regular attacks on these areas and link routes. Communication services mentioned here did not include regular postal services or carrying private mails from one place to another. The liberated areas were like small pockets or enclaves, scattered all over the country, even there were small hideouts in the capital Dacca city.
Strategically, the entire country was divided into eleven sectors headed by eleven sector commanders, with the then Col. (Retd.) Mohammad Ataul Ghani Osmani as Commander in-Chief of the Mukti Bahini (Liberation Forces). Messages between different groups of freedom fighters and with the headquarters at Mujibnagar, were carried out by the members was carried by some irregular postal staff and mostly by the freedom fighters, scouts and even common villagers. It was very unlikely that regular system could be carried out at that time, because the freedom fighters were not in a mood to write letters to their kith and kin, the common people were fleeing from one place to other to avoid army atrocity. Besides, there was every chance to be caught and tortured and killed by the Pakistan Army personnel’s. Some laid their lives, but never gave way to tortures.
From the memoirs of Siddiq Saliq , we come of a boy of 16 years who faced inhuman ghastly torture and was brutally butchered, but the enemy could not get a single word out of him. Primarily these messages or letters were not enclosed in any envelopes, had on seals or cancellation marks and were destroyed when reached the destination. Only a very few instructions and directives were found to exist with some Commanders of the Liberation Army, the texts of which were published in the newspapers, periodicals and memoirs in recent years. These documents were of great importance to the history of Liberation was of Bangladesh, but contribute little to postal or philatelic history.
An opposite picture can be seen among the Pakistan Army. The had a large number of trained and expert professionals, huge quantity of arms and ammunition, they had sufficient transport, logistics, ample foods and provisions, but what they lacked much, was coordination and people's support. When they surrendered different deserted army units abounded foods, provisions and undelivered letters from their near and dear ones residing at West Pakistan. Even the unit leaders could not contact their commanders.
Bangladesh Postal Administration established FPOs, along with the existing post offices in the liberated areas, adjacent to the border areas with India from early June 1971. On replying a letter of Mr. Kenneth Chapman, editor of Stamp Collecting, UK, the Post Master of Mujibnagar Post Office informs :
In the liberated areas, we are providing a general and official postal service using the post offices we control. Also for the Army, the Mukti Fouz has established a number of Field Post Offices, which enable the soldiers to communicate with their families in other liberated areas or in India.
The Post Master General of Mujibnagar Postal Administration Barrister Moudud Ahmed, also, in a letter to Mr. John Stonehouse, stated about the successful operation of the postal administration, he wrote :
The postal service in the liberated areas, however, is functioning very smoothly. In the Raomari area, a postal zone has been established with 8 post offices and one sub-post office. This covers a huge area in the north with 500,000 people residing. The post office is at Raomari, as the headquarters and Branch post offices at Datbhanga, Tapunchar, Showlmari, Jadurchar, Rajibpur, Mohonganj and Makunchar.
These post offices were provided with a code number for the secrecy of their placements. The mails were carried usually in blue jeans cloth or leather bags duly wax sealed as was the practice of that time. These bags were carried by Armed Carriers of the Liberation Forces Communication Wing by motorcycle, bicycle, jeep and on foot. In the riverine areas boats were widely used. The carriers were given certain code words, with which they can pass all posts enroute manned by liberation forces .
Prior to the reorganization of postal services, the mailbags were dispatched to the nearest Indian post offices for mails of India and abroad. From June 1971 and onwards, the arrangement was reorganized and all the mailbags from the FPOs were dispatched at the Central Post Office at Mujibnagar Secretariat, 8 Theatre Road (now Shakespeare Sarani), Calcutta . Though the distribution of mails within India was settled with the Indian Posts and Telegraph Department, Bangladesh Postal administration suffered various drawbacks for the dispatch of International mails, which was in fact caused by the restrictions imposed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU). Barrister Moudud Ahmed, the Post Master General, in a letter to Mr. John Stonehouse wrote :
In the meantime I had a discussion with the Indian External Affairs Ministry with regards to the transmission of our letters. Because of the International Postal Union rules, they say that it will not be possible for them to maintain the arrangement that was previously made. However, fresh arrangements are being made to settle this matter ......
Earliest stamp related news in the official record, can be found on a leaflet issued by the External Publicity Division of the Mujibnagar Government in May 1971, where in the last para of the statement reads : . . .Soon stamps and coins are going to be introduced in independent Bangla.
First authentically important activity on this postal communication and one of the most major international publicity in favour of the nation-hood of Bangladesh was initiated on July 29, 1971. The Bangladesh Government issued a set of 8 postage stamps depicting liberation movement of Bangladesh. The text of these eight stamps is as follows:
Table 13: showing Text of First Eight Stamps of Bangladesh
Text of the Stamps
10 p Map of Bangladesh
20 p Massacre at D.U. (Dacca University)
50 p 75 million people
Re 1 Flag of Independence
Rs 2 Broken Chain (of Subjugation)
Rs. 3 Ballot Box (of 1970’s election) and its result
Rs 5 Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
In this context Mr. Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, former Chief Justice of Dacca High Court and Vice-Chancellor of Dacca University, Ambassador and later President of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh wrote in his memoir ‘Probashe Muktijuddher Dinguli’ (Days of the Liberation War in Exile) :
On behalf of WAR ON WANT, Mr. John Stonehouse MP, visited Mujibnagar to see for himself the condition of the refugees and to discuss different matters with the Prime Minister Mr. Tajuddin Ahmed and other ministers. It was then decided that postage stamps will be issued. According to the decision of the Mujibnagar Government Stonehouse started working with this matter getting full responsibility. Neither the Bangladesh Fund, nor the Steering Committee sanctioned any money for this project. However, many leading personalities were invited in the publication ceremony of these postage stamps. Mr. Stonehouse also invited the Steering Committee to attend the ceremony.
. . . . Bangladesh was liberated within five months of issuance of these stamps. Since August (1971), I became very busy in visiting different nations of Europe and America. Therefore, I, personally, could not able to know or had time to inquire about the stamps, nor did I get any instruction or information from the Mujibnagar Government about this matter.
Through Mr. Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, the Mujibnagar Government contacted Dr. Enamul Haque, then president of ‘Bangladesh Peoples Cultural Society’. Mr. Stonehouse introduced Mr. Biman Mullick to him, who being a Bangalee, was the class one stamp designer. Mr. Mullick designed the Gandhi Memorial stamps for the British Post Office in 1969, winning two gold medals for the best Gandhi stamp designed in the world at that time. Dr. Enamul Haque kept liaison with the Mujibnagar Government regarding the stamps and sent the designed for approval by middle of June 1971. In a letter dated 8th July, 1971 Principle Aide to the Prime Minister, Mr. Rahmat Ali (Barrister Aminul Islam used this name as a disguise) informed Dr. Enamul Haque :
With regards to the philately, the designs have been approved. If you have other designs in hand, please go ahead and send them for our approval. There is no harm in having more.
The responsibility of printing, distribution and sale of the first eight -value stamps of Bangladesh, as stated by Mr. Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury in his memoir ‘Probashe Muktijuddher Dinguli’ (Days of the Liberation War in Exile) :
Mr. Stonehouse sent these stamps to the Mujibnagar Government and he himself arranged the distribution in Europe. He contacted a British stamp issuing Agency to issue, distribute and sell these stamps. This agency bore all the expenses of issuance of these stamps. They also took the sale proceeds of these stamps. They were responsible in giving its accounts to the Mujibnagar Government.
British Stamp issuing Agency, that Mr. Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury mentioned, was E. E. Oatway, a reputed stamp dealer and philatelic investor. He contacted the Format International Security Printers and finalized the designing and printing of the stamps. He opened a centre ‘Bangladesh Philatelic Agency’ at his address - Chobham, Working, Surrey . The designs of the stamps printed were different from those designed by Mr. Biman Mullick. Design of Rs. 2 was changed with that of Rs. 10 and vice versa .
The stamps were printed in lithographic process on white coated un-watermarked security paper, having 100 (10 x 10) stamps per sheet. The perforation on the sides of the stamps were 14 x 14.5 (in 2 cm length). In Bangladesh Mission of Calcutta the mint sets were sold for Rs. 21.80 per set of eight stamps and the FDC with the stamps affixed at Rs. 22.00. Those wanted the FDCs were requested to affix the stamps on covers and deposit against receipt for collecting the cover with the Mujibnagar cancellation in the following day . In England the stamps were sold at 1.09 pound sterling per mint set plus 20 p as handling charge . In England more than US$ 23,000 worth of stamps was sold on the opening day .
A First Day Cover was also prepared on this occasion, the proof of which was approved by Barrister Moudud Ahmed, then PMG of Mujibnagar Postal Administration. The FDC was printed in deep green colour from Swaraswati Press of Calcutta. The design depicts the words ‘First Stamps of Bangladesh’ across the lower end of the cover, ‘First Day Cover’ in smaller type on the left right hand corner and ‘BANGLADESH’ in large type lying vertically from the lower end to the upper on the left side. The cover prepared and put on sale in England was coloured Bright Orange-Vermilion and was printed form London. Naturally the quality of the paper used for these two covers differ considerably .
After all the formalities were completed, the date of issue of these stamps was set for 29th July 1971. This news was announced by Mr. Hossain Ali, the then Ambassador , at a press conference held on 26th July in the Bangladesh Mission at 9 Circus Avenue. Simultaneously, a press conference was held in the House of Commons, British Parliament. A reception of these stamps was held on the same day in the Hercourt Room of the House of Commons. This reception was attended, among others, by Mr. John Stonehouse, MP, Mr. Peter Shore, MP and other distinguished guests. In this connection Justice Abu Sayeed Chowdhury wrote in his book ‘Probashe Muktijuddher Dinguli’ (Days of the Liberation War in Exile) :
On behalf of Bangladesh Government, a publication ceremony of the stamps was held on 26th July at the Hercourt Room of the House of Commons. The publication of these stamps had an important political significance. With the issuance of these stamps, impression of Mujibnagar government controlling the administration of Bangladesh statehood was justified among the foreigners. . . . In this function Mr. Peter Shore, MP, Mr. John Stonehouse and some other MPs spoke valiantly in support of the Liberation of Bangladesh. I have no knowledge of ever holding such unofficial meeting in support of a different nation in the British Parliament House.
In this context Mr. A.M. Ahsanullah, first Director General of Bangladesh Post Office after Liberation of Bangladesh wrote :
The external manifestations of the independent entity of an independent country, easily and effectively revealed among the people are its own postage stamps and its coins and currency. Mujibnagar Government virtually issued their postage stamps to get international recognition of its independent status. These eight postage stamps of different denomination played an important role in history of Liberation War and this set of postage stamp will remain illustrious in the world of philately.
The eight stamps presented in the reception, is now preserved on a tray wrapped in golden cloth, in the Mukti Juddho Smrity Jadughar (Liberation War Memorial Museum) in Segun Bagicha, Dhaka.
By an arrangement with the Indian Posts and Telegraphs a considerable number of letters affixing these postage stamps were sent to MPs of the British Parliament. These ‘postally-used covers’ were shown at the Parliament sessions and heated debates were held in favour of Liberation War of Bangladesh. Similar incidences were held in the US Senate and UN General Assembly. Thus these stamps played a dominant role as a veteran Ambassador.
In this regards David Lidman, APS, a renowned journalist of New York Times wrote in The American Philatelist, the most honoured philatelic research journal of the American Philatelic Society, in his article ‘Bangladesh: Tread with Caution :
On July 26 in London, so-called stamps of Bangla Desh appeared. A "first day" ceremony was staged for this so-called 'definitive' series. The site was the House of Commons and John Stonehouse, MP, until recently Britain's Postmaster general and Abu Sayeed Chowdhury, vice chancellor of Dacca University, in East Pakistan, were the principals involved.
These labels will not, now, receive recognition from the Scott or Minkus catalogues the principal repositories for authenticity in the United States; and it is unlikely that the Gibbons catalogue, England's prime compendium, will accord recognition.
David Lidman also wrote that he contacted with several leading journalists about this matter. On inquiry Sidney Schanberg of New York Times of New Delhi informed him that:
Bangla Desh officials in India insist that the stamps will actually be used as postage in "Liberated areas" of East Pakistan, replacing Pakistani stamps.
. . . The Bangla Desh officials say a Bangla Desh postal service is already operating in these areas,
. . . The Bangla Desh diplomatic mission says it will begin negotiations with the Universal Postal Union to get international recognition for the stamps so that they can be used externally.
Malcolm Browne of New York Times, Dacca Bureau informed David Lidman that:
Letters bearing Bangla Desh postmarks from Mujibnagar have reportedly appeared in Dacca, presumably delivered by clandestine couriers . . . . although no one doubts that rebel organization has good internal communications.
Anthony Lewis of New York Times, London Bureau wrote to David Lidman:
A spokesman for the Steering Committee of Bangla Desh, United Kingdom, observed that the stamps were a symbol of the authority of the Bangla Desh Government over the territories they hold. They claim 78% under their control.
. . . . There is Bangla Desh Philatelic Agency, 11 Goring Street, London EC 3, England, which is also the address of the Steering Committee.
David Lidman in his article ‘Bangladesh: Tread with Caution’ concludes :
In New York, the representative of Bangla Desh is Mahmood Ali, 10 East 39th Street 10016. Ali said that stamps were on sale in the Jessore and Rangpur areas of Bangla Desh.
Editors of The American Philatelist noted in the same issue that :
Editors of the Stanley Gibbons Catalogue have announced that pending full investigation they have no present intention to list the Bangla Desh provisional overprints nor the definitive issue which has been promoted through the establishment of agencies in various countries.
The notice also said:
The situation will be reviewed in the light of any evidence of these stamps being accepted on international mail without addition of Indian stamp or being subjected to postage due. Doubtless, this will be investigated in due course by the British Stamp Trade Advisory Committee.
A new set of stamps depicting the genocide of the Pakistan Army was planned to be issued by October or November, but it was never materialized because of intensified war between Bangladesh Mukti Bahini and the Pakistan Army.
Thus we can see these tiny eight pieces of coloured papers almost shook the world and played an outstanding role in the Liberation War of Bangladesh. Though these were quoted as labels or bogus until 16th December 1971, became the first ever issued stamps of newly emerged Bangladesh nation only after five months of its publication.
Post-Liberation Postal Service of Bangladesh :
From Turmoil to Stability
Just before the Liberation war broke out, a seniormost officer of the Postal department Mr. A.M. Ahsanullah, then Deputy Director General (Staff and Establishment) was on a visit at Dacca. He could not go back to his duty and was kept under detention. After the independence of Bangladesh, he was released and as there was no other senior officer to take charge of the postal department of this new nation, Mr. Ahsanullah assumed the charge of the Director General and started his office on 19 December. He said in his article Bangladesher Daktikit: Adi Itihash o Kichhu Prashongik Kotha (Postage Stamps of Bangladesh: Its Early History and Some Relevant Story) :
I was then stationed at Karachi, in the rank of Deputy Director General (Staff and Establishment). By the end of February I came to Dhaka on tour to clear up a crisis related to employees union. But before the work is finished that tremendous movement started. It was impossible to return, even I did not wanted to return either. Because after observing the style and tempo I was confident that this movement must turn into liberation struggle. At the onset I started to prepare how to make the postal service uninterrupted. The first problem I thought to come first is the supply of postage stamps. Because this is another item we have to depend on the West Pakistan, the Security Printing Press and the Mint were situated in West Pakistan. Therefore I sent a telegram to Karachi to send us at least six months supply. The first consignment reached during the Liberation war.
Mr. John Stonehouse MP came to Dacca in a special Army helicopter with some dignitories of Bangladesh Government. He brought with him a few hundred copies of the first eight-value stamps of Bangladesh, issued on 29 July 1971. He also brought with him three more stamps of this eight-value set, viz. 10p, Rs. 5.00 and Rs. 10.00 were overprinted ‘Bangladesh Liberated’ in English (evsjv‡`‡ki gyw³ in Bengali) in very small type. These eleven stamps were put on sale from Dhaka GPO on 20 December. Mr. Stonehouse informed Mr. Ahsanullah that due to unusual situation prevailing in the country, and no usual air transport is available, (all the airports being damaged due to war) he could not bring large quantity of these stamps with him. In a few days time, a large stock would be handed over to the postal administration of Bangladesh. It was disclosed that overprints were done on all the eight stamps.
After Dhaka was finally liberated and the Liberation war ended on 16th December, the Mujibnagar Government, merged with the existing secretarial administration of the Government in Dhaka on 28th December 1971. Before this merger all the existing Field Post Offices in all fronts were closed and abolished. Following news item appeared in the December issue of the ‘Stamp Digest’ :
Mujibnagar Post Office Merged with Dacca
“Mujibnagar Post Office which functioned for over nine months has now been merged with Dacca G.P.O, Mr M.A Aziz, who was Special Officer, Bangladesh P. and T Department has joined back his civil service post as Deputy Commissioner, Rajshahi, Mr Idris, has also joined his old unit at Narayanganj, while the Postmaster of Mujibnagar P.O. Mr Nurul Islam has been posted, at Bogra. The historical Seals and Postmarks of Mujibnagar relic of sacrifice and suffering of nine months for Independence are now being displayed at the Dacca Postal Museum.”
The cancellation used as a Delivery stamp in the Central Base Post Office Mujibnagar, illustrated in the Catalogue of the National Philatelic Exhibition 1992, is preserved in the Postal Museum at Dhaka G.P.O. Whereabouts of other Cancellations Used in F.PO'’ is not known.
After a few days, it was revealed that, eight stamps, of 20 July, as well as its overprinted varaities, had found their way to the stamp dealers. These dealers were selling those stamps to the world stamp market at their own stipulated price, without getting permission from Bangladesh Post Office or giving them the accounts. At this news the Postal Administration of Dhaka cancelled its authority over the whole stock of stamps and termed illegal.
It is worth mentioning that the Postal Department of a country is the sole authority of issuing or rejecting a stamp of its country. When it cancels it authority from a single stamp it becomes a sought for item for a stamp collector, because the entire stock of that stamp lies with them. But when the entire stock goes out of the reach of their authority and the stamp is termed illegal, its importance comes to a minimum level. With no stamp in hand Bangladesh Post Office started its joirney, though theoretically the lot they used to inherit could be a humble start.
During January 1972, a set of 15 stamps, having denominations of 1p., 2p., 3p., 5p., 7p., 10p., 15p., 20p., 25p., 40p., 50p., 75p., Tk. 1., Tk. 2. and Tk. 5, showing three designs of the earlier eight stamps (10p., Re. 1., and Rs. 5.,) were found to be sold by the stamp dealers of to the collectors at their own stipulated price in the markets of Europe and America. Those were supposed to be the first definitive (regular) stamps of Bangladesh. There were no authenticity as to how these stamps were printed and were put on sale in the world market before these were issued inside Bangladesh, the Postal Authority of Bangladesh did not recognized their validity either.
After the Liberation of Bangladesh, regular functioning of the postal service was urgently needed. There was no question of priinting new postage stamps, because there was no security printing press, proper technology was absent and adequate material could not be ensured in the war devastated country. To print the postage stamps from foreign country will take a considerable time. The quantity of stamps required was phenomenal, whereas huge quantities of Pakistan stamps of the previous regime remained in stock scattered all over the country in various treasuries and in almost all post offices. Due to lack of easy, prompt and proper transport and as well as for security reason, the recall of these postage stamps from each and every post office and overprinting those with a new name was not al all a practical proposition. On the other hand, for obvious political and sentimental reasons, it was felt undesirable to continue the use of the previous regime’s stamps without making any change, whatever trifles that may be which seemed feasible. And this gave rise to an interesting curiosity of philatelic history - the ‘Bangladesh’ rubber-stamp issues.
On 19 December 1971, a Post Office circular was issued, to the Head Post Offices instructing the Post Offices at descending levels of hierarchy, to use their own initiative in making and using rubber hand stamps to be impressed on all Postage stamps and Postal Stationary available at that Post Office. The original circular reads :
Arrangements are being made to get the Bangladesh postage stamps printed. But as it will take sometimes, it has been decided that rubber stamps bearing the word ‘Bangladesh’ should be got prepared locally and impressed on the existing stock of stamps before those are put on sale. The rubber stamp should contain the word ‘Bangladesh’ both in Bengali and English in small type. (Para 1(b) of letter Ref. M/A-1/RLG).
The subject of this circular was not an innovative one. Infact, a general Government handout reveals that there was a general instruction to strike out the name ‘Pakistan’ from all printed papers, signboards and names whereever applicable and to use ‘Bangladesh’. People from all walks of the community obeyed the instructions without question.
But the order issued by the post office gave rise to some discontent among the public, especially to most of the commercial houses, banks and some government offices, which had a large quantity of stamps in their stock at their despatch sections. As the instruction was given to the post offices to imprint the rubber stamp on their stock only and not to the mails posted to them for delivery, there gave rise to some confusion about the mails coming to these offices to be sent to different destination. Their matter was taken into account and a revised notice was issued later on, which was published in the daily Morning News of 31 December 1971. It says members of the public, including commercial enterprises, banks etc. having mint (unused) Pakistan stamps in their possession, were permitted to make and use rubber stamp to ammend them. The practical result of this measure was a whole variety of rubber stamp being used, leaving aside privately-used rubber stamps, a very large number of different ones were produced by the post office itself. The details of execution of the circular had been left to the Head and Sub-Post Masters. In some cases, Head and Sub-Postmasters made rubber stamps and supplied them to subordinate post offices, in other cases, the job of making rubber stamps was passed on to the subordinate post offices themselves.
The Director General realised, it would be impractical to instruct about distinct design, type size of the rubber stamp and colour of prints to be used. Therefore, he kept the matter open. As a result, the design of the officially made rubber stamps varied considerably. Some post offices used more than one design. Even when two or more rubber stamps of the same design were made, the individual implements can often be distinguished by small differences in detail. Various colours were used. Most common was violet, from commonly used stamp pads of divverent shades and densities; fairly common was black of the postmark ink, provided by the post office, this also vaired in different shades; rare was the blue fountain-pen ink and very rare were green and red.
Beside a small number of rubber stamps used by a few commercial firms and banks, there were designs developed by people with commercial interest in stamp collecting. Some stamp dealers obtained older issues of Pakistan stamps and hand-stamped those with a large variety of designs, some of those were fanciful and decorative. Overprints were done on even those of first overprints (press-printed ‘Pakistan’ on British Indian stamps of 1947) making them ‘Three Generation Stamp’. It may be mentioned here that, all the stamps and postal stationary of the British Indian Postal Department, overprinted with the word ‘Pakistan’ were declared invalid and ceased to be used in the then Pakistan in 1950. And again, after the introduction of decimal currency in 1961, all the pre-decial stamps were invalid for use. And also, since the Director General of Bangladesh Post Office did not authorise the use of any such relics in the new sovereign state of Bangladesh, such items were unofficial and postally invalid. Still these were made and used by the philatelists for their own collection and stamp dealers for their own financial benefit. Thus, the philatelic market inside Bangladesh and also world philatelic market was flooded with innumerable varieties of rubber stamps.
When time came to make extensive study on this subject the researchers found out that it was a dificult task before them to differentiate between the original or recornized rubber prints and those made by the public for commercial purposes.
In the first week of September 1972, a new circular was issued from the Director General’s office to collect specimenprints of the rubber stamps used in the post offices throughout Bangladesh. The Circular reads:
It has been decided that these rubber-stamps now being used by the various post offices should be collected and presenved in the postal museum attached to the Dacca GPO, soon as the stocks of the former Pokistan postage stamps are exhausted. It is also felt necessary, pending collection of the rubber-stamps from the post offices obtain impresson sheets from all the post offices bearing the impressions of the rubber-stamps now being used by them and to keep them on record.
In the context of over-printing Pakistan stamps manually, one of the outstanding event worth mentioning was that, though Bangladesh was completely liberated on 16 December 1971, some administrative districts bordering India were liberated before. Among the district towns liberated first was Jessore, where Libereation Army entered on 6 December. Jessore Head Post Office started functioning from 8 December. With good road linkage upto remote villages, good postal services were restored within a very short time. Whereas no Bangladesh stamps were available and higher postal authority absent, the Post Master in charge, on his own initiative, overprinted eight definitive (regular) stamps of Pakistan available at his stock. The print was made from a local private printing press. These stamps were 1p., 2p., 3p., 5p., and 7p., stamps of Khyber Pass variety, 10p., 13p., and 20p. stamps of Salimar Garden variety. One commemorative stamp (20p Children Day 1970) was also overprinted in the same manner. The print was done both in English in all capital type and in Bangla (English was placed upper). Black ink was used for printing. The Post Master immediately put these overprinted stamps on sale at the counters of Jessore Head Post Office and sent those almost to all other urban and rural post offices.
When the matter become known to the Director General of Bangladesh Post Office, he immediately ordered to stop use of these press-printed stamps a circular was issued on 4 February 1972, forbidding the sale and make use of printing machine for overprinting the postage stamps. The circular reads as follow:
It has been noticed that postage stamps overprinted with the word ‘Bangladesh’ by machine has been undertaken by the Bangladesh Post Office Department, such postage stamps overprinted by machine, if used on any letter or postal article, should not be accepted. Sale of such machine-overprinted stamps from the post office counters is strictly prohibited.
Some more press-print varieties were found postally used mails from Tangail, Barisal and some places of Dacca. But the Postal Authority did not recognise these prints as legal, because when contacted Post Masters of these areas denied their involvement in printing of these stamps. Therefore, Jessore-print stamps were the only accepted press-print of Bangladesh till the issuance of the circular.
In 6 September 1972 the Director General sent a memo (No. PS 10-7/72) to the Post Master Generals of Eastern Circle at Chittagong and Western Circle at Khulna, which reads :
Subject: Preservation of Rubber-stamps now used in the Post Offices for Impression ‘Bangladesh’ both in Bangla and English on former Pakistani Postal Stamps in Postal Museum, Dacca.
Immediately after liberation, orders were issued to sell former Pakistan stamps after impressing them with the word ‘Bangladesh’ by means of rubber-stamps. Accordingly, rubber-stamps bearing the word ‘Bangladesh’ both in Bangla and English were locally got manufactured by the Postmasters and are now being used for impressing the existing postage stamps of the former print before their sale to the members of the public.
It has since been desired that these rubber-stamps now being used by the various post offices should be collected and preserved in the Postal Museum attached to Dacca G.P.O. as soon as the stocks of the former Pakistan stamps are exausted. It is also felt necessary, pending collection of the rubber-stamps from the Post Pffices to obtain impression sheets from all the Post Offices bearing the impressions of the rubber-stamps now being used by them and to keep them on record.
You are, therefore, requested to issue suitable instructions immediately to all concerned to preserve these rubber-stamps and send the same to this office in due course for preservation in the aforesaid Postal Museum. Meanwhile, impression sheets of these stamps from each Post Office may please be obtained and sent to this office for record.
It was known from the Postal Directorate that a large stock of rubber-prints and the seals are now preserved at the Postal Museum at Dhaka G.P.O.
On 7 April 1973 the Director General issued another memo no. PS 1-72/72-73. In this circular the Director General orders all concerned to be known that the rubber-print of Pakistan stamps and the use of these will end on 30 April 1973. The order reads :
. . . . the new definitive postage stamps will be issued on and from the 30th April ‘73 in lieu of the former Pakistani-print postage stamps - both Public and Service - of all denominations. To state more clearly, the existing Pakistani-print postage stamps, now being sold with rubber-stamp impression of ‘Bangladesh’ shall cease to be legal tender on and from the 30th April, ‘73 for the purpose of prepayment of postage or any postal transaction in Banglasdesh. It should, therefore, be carefully noted by all concerned, that the stock of such Pakistani-print postage stamps still lying in the post offices, should, on no account be sold to the public on or after the 30th April 1`973,, nor should they ever be accepted by the post offices, in the prepayment of postage or any postal transaction with effect from the said date . . .
On 30 April 1973, a set of 14 value stamps, namely, 1p., 2p., 3p., 5p., 10p., 20p., 25p., 50p., 60p., 75p., 90p., Tk. 1., Tk. 2., Tk. 5., and Tk. 10. were issued. This set was the first regular set issued and circulated all over the country and started to be used in all mails all over the country at a time. These stamps were printed by Bradbury, Wilkinson Pvt. Ltd. of England. With the introduction of these stamps, the hand-stamped Pakistan postage stamps ceased to be legal for prepayment of postage. The last day the Pakistan stamps were officially available at the post offices was on 28 April 1973 (29 April being Sunday, was a weekly holiday).
However, a very small number of stamps were sold on 20 April 1973, at Dacca Railway Mail and Sorting Office (commonly known as Dacca RM&SO from its abbreviation) and Chittagong RM&SO counters, which were open even on Sundays.
Though from 30 April 1973 Bangladesh had its own postage stamps and Pakistan stamp with rubber-print were no longer in use from that date, there was no bar in using postal stationeries, namely Embossed Envelopes, Registration Envelopes, Post Cards, Reply Cards and Aerogrammes of Pakistan in the mails. It remained valid for mails as usual.
Finally vide Postal Notice No. 5 dated September 1974 all items which bears the name Pakistan were totally withdrawn from sale and use. The notice reads :
It is notified for general information that Bangladesh Post Office has decided to withdraw from circulation Pakistan print stationeries, namely Embossed Envelopes, Registration Envelopes, Post Cards, Reply Cards and Aerogrammes with effect from the 7th October 1974. Consequently, these stationeries will not br sold to the public from 7th October 1972 from the post occices nor they will be accepted by the post offices in the prepayment of postage with effect from that date.
This ends the history of provisional period of Bangladeh postal service.
Whereas the job of the serious stamp collectors or philatelists, on the other hand, had only just begun and found themselves faced with a huge number of rubber-stamped varieties, the fruit of three long years of rubber-stamping with a scope for trophy-hunting and research by the collectors for many years to come.
The Thirty-five Years
During the thirty years of philatelic history, from 29 July 1971 to December 2000, Bangladesh issued as many as 750 different postage stamps. Table 10 shows the stamps issued during the first decade (1971-1980).
Table 14 : Postage stamps issued during the first decade (1971-1980)
Year Commemoratives Definitives Souvenir Sheets
1971 11 0 0
1972 7 0 0
1973 5 14 0
1974 17 4 1
1975 4 0 0
1976 16 12 2
1977 13 0 1
1978 19 11 1
1979 8 0 2
1980 13 0 2
Total 113 41 9
During the period mentioned above in total 113 commemorative stamps, 41 definitive stamps and 9 souvenir sheets were issued. Highest numbers of commemorative stamps (17, 15.4%) were issued in 1974, and lowest (4, 3.4%) in 1975.
Table 15 : Postage stamps issued during the second decade (1981-1990)
Year Commemoratives Definitive Souvenir Sheets
1981 15 0 1
1982 12 0 0
1983 23 10 2
1984 13 0 1
1985 20 0 1
1986 9 1 2
1987 19 1 0
1988 23 1 0
1989 16 5 2
1990 31 1 1
Total 181 19 10
During the period mentioned above in total 181 commemorative stamps, 19 definitive stamps and 10 souvenir sheets were issued. Highest numbers of commemorative stamps (31, 17.13%) were issued in 1990, and lowest (9, 4.97%) in 1986.
Table 16 : Postage stamps issued during the third decade (1991-2000)
Year Commemoratives Definitive Souvenir Sheets
1991 56 0 1
1992 24 0 1
1993 30 1 1
1994 50 0 1
1995 46 1 0
1996 38 0 0
1997 30 0 0
1998 34 0 0
1999 39 0 2
2000 47 0 0
Total 394 2 6
During the period mentioned above in total 394 commemorative stamps, only 2 definitive stamps and 6 souvenir sheets were issued. Highest number of commemorative stamps (56, 14.21%) were issued in 1991, and lowest (24, 6.1%) in 1992.
Table 17 : Postage stamps issued during the first half of the fourth decade (2001-2005)
Year Commemoratives Definitive Souvenir Sheets
2001 56 0 1
2002 24 0 1
2003 30 1 1
2004 50 0 1
2005 46 1 0
Total 394 2 6
During the period mentioned above in total 394 commemorative stamps and 6 souvenir sheets were issued. Highest number of commemorative stamps (56, 14.21%) were issued in 1991, and lowest (24, 6.1%) in 1992.
In total 688 commemorative, 62 definitive stamps and 25 souvenir sheets were issued during the last thirty years.
Due to absence of own security printing press, the Bangladesh Post Office had to print all its postage stamps from other countries. Bangladesh had to wait nineteen years to have its own security printing press. Bangladesh’s own was commissioned in December 1989. Before that Indian Security Printing Press printed 4 stamps. Bradbury, Wilkinson Pte. Limited of England printed 59 stamps and one souvenir sheet. Asher and Compant of Australia printed 39 stamps. Heraclios Fournier of Spain printed only 4 stamps and two souvenir sheets. John Waddington of England printed only 3 stamps, Uberreuter of Austria printed 27 commemorative stamps and 2 souvenir sheets. Seventyseven stamps and one souvenir sheets were printed by Mezdunarodnya kniga of USSR. Harrison and Sons of England, most popular name among the stamp printers printed 92 stamps and 9 souvenir sheets.
On 7 December 1989, a security printing press was commissioned by the Government of Bangladesh at Gazipur, Dhaka. On this day, a new stamp commemorating opening of this Security Printing Press was printed from here. Since then, all the stamps of Bangladesh are printed from here.
A comperative statement showing number of stamps printed by different security printing presses are shown here.
Table 18 : Comperative list of Security Printing Presses and number of stamps printed
Name of Printer Commemoratives Definitives Service Souvenir Sheet
Asher & Co.
12 13 12 0
Bradbury 29 18 14 1
Bruder Rosenbaum 19 0 0 0
Bangladesh Security 184 5 0 4
Format International 11 0 0 0
Harrison & Sons 67 11 11 11
Heraclios Fourneir 4 0 0 2
Indian Security 4 0 0 0
John Waddington 2 0 0 0
Mezdunarodnya 54 17 10 1
Uberreuter 41 0 0 2
20 0 0 0
437 64 47 22
Designing is vital for maintaining quality and standard of production of stamps of a country. Designers and artists of our country and abroad, who designed Bangladesh stamps were M/s. K.G. Mostafa, Ahmed Fazlul Karim, Pranesh Kumar Mandal, Mahmub Akhond, Dr. Manzare Shamin, Mahbuba Khatun. Mr. K.G. Mostafa and Mr. Ahmed Fazlul Karim were the pioneers. Mr. Pranesh Kumar Mandal was specialized mostly on portraits. His portraits were almost lifelike. Amongst the later designers Mr. Mahmub Akhond started designing in late 1983. In the same year Dr. Manzare Shamin and Mahbuba Khatun came into limelight at a countrywide designing competition of the Post Office. Among other designers include M/s. BP Chitnish, W.Delder, P. Jackson, R.G. Berret and E. Roberts were from abroad.
M/s. Wahid Kamal, Nitun Kundu, Mahbuba Begum, Bakiruddin Sarker, Md. Shamsuzzoha, Anowar Hossain, Nurul Islam, Mozammel Haque, Muslim Miah, Motior Rahman, A.F.M. Moniruzzaman, A.K.M. Abdur Rauf, Rafiqa Hossain, Quiyum Chowdhury, Hashem Khan, Bimalesh Chandra Biswas, Dewan Shanaz Shaheen, Jasim Uddin, Dr. Kazi Shariful Alam, Muslim Miah, Mr. Mrinal Chakrabarti, Engg. Amirul Islam Sikder, ATM Anwarul Quadir, S.A. Quader ans Syed bin Salam and some more to follow.
Other than postage stamps Bangladesh Post Office issued 10 different post cards with three basic designs, 14 different envelopes with 5 basic designs 24 different aerogrammes of three basic designs and 4 registration Envelopes with one basic design. It also issued 3 different pictoral post cards.
Bangladesh Post Office arranged two national-level stamp exhibitions, at Dhaka, with befitting manner, one in 1984 and another in 1992 and two regional exhibitions in Khulna in 1984 and at Rajshshi in 1995.
Since independence, collection of stamps and other related items developed greatly. The first organization, Bangladesh Philatelic Soceity, formed with the stamp collectors and for the stamp collectors was set up in 1972 under the patronage of Mr. A.M. Ahsanullah, the then Director General of Bangladesh Post Office.
The first organizing committee includes Mr. Sikander Hayat Chowdhury - President, M/s. M.A. Salam, Shamsur Rahman, and N.M. Mir - Vice-Presidents, Kazi Shariful Alam - General Secretary, Mr. Abdus Salam (B.Com) - Treasurer, M/s. Mominur Rashid Khan and Jahangir Kabir - Asstt. General Secretary, Mr. Abedur Rashid Khan - Information Secretary, Mr. M.A. Kader - Publicity Secretary, Nani Gopal Basak, Asaduzzaman, Siddique Mahmudur Rahman, Mafidul Islam, Dalil Ahmed Khan, Mohammad Shafi and Jillur Rahim Akhond - Members.
This Society published one issue of philatelic research journal in 1973, some issues of philatelic news letters, arranged some philtelic auction and one philatelic exhibition in 1973 at Dhaka Press Club.
In 1974, two philatelic exhibitions were arranged at Jessore by a local club, named Asian Voice, one exhibition was arranged at Comilla in 1975 by Philatelic Association of Bangladesh and one in Dhaka by Sputnik International. Among some other private philatelic organizations, Bangladesh National Philatelic Association arranged 25 exhibitions and Philatelists Association of Bangladesh arranged 9 exhibitions, all of which were in Dhaka.
Bangladesh Institute of Philatelic Studies was the pioneer in publishing regular philatelic publications in Bangladesh. The Institute published several important books on Bangladesh philately, these are - Bangladesh Stamps and Postal History (1988), Bangladesh Philatelir Dui Dasak (Two Decades of Bangladesh Philately) (1991), Bangladesher Dakbyabostha (Postal History of Bangladesh) (1995), Bangladesher Daktikit (Postage Stamps of Bangladesh) (1995).
The BIPS is pioneer in publishing three multimedia database philatelic software in CD Bangladesh Stamps in 2001 and 2003 Eminemt Personalities in Bangladesh Stamps in 2003. These softwares were prepared by Siddique Mahmudur Rahman.
The Meter Fanking Cancellations of Bangladesh written by Ishtiaque Ahmed Khan (1996) was an outstanding study on Bangladesh philately.
Dr. Kazi Shariful Alam's publications ‘Mojar Shokh Daktikit Shongroho’ (Fascinating Hobby - Stamp Collecting) and Postal Stationeries of Bangladesh are also worth mentioning publication during these years.
Bangladesh Post Office regularly publishes Dak Probaha which houses philatelic news.
The table shown below displays that during twentyfive years Bangladesh Post Office earned about US$ 700,000, which is eqivalent to about 1.60 crore taka.
Table 19: Sales of postage stamps through Dhaka Philatelic Bureau
US Dollar ($) Bangladesh Taka ($)
16.12.71-30.6.76 12,821.00 10,69,865.00
1.7.76-30.6.80 385,530.54 66,35,565.00
1.7.80-30.6.85 119,304.38 24,01,754.86
1.7.85-30.6.90 87,403.58 27,84,381.43
1.7.90-30.6.95 91,178.03 30,98,384.29
1.7.95-30.6.2000 91,178.03 39,99,762.29
If the Post Office took the marketing of philately in a more serious way and had they advertised their products in international philatelic journals regularly, they could earned even more than double the amount they are earning now.
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