Rabindranath Tagore (rightly pronounced as Robindronath Thakur) was the first Asian to receive Nobel Prize on Literature in 1913. Tagore was a poet, a lyricist, a novelist, a short story writer, an essayist, an artist, a social reformer, a philosopher, an educationist and out and out a great Nationalist.
Tagore had no institutional education. He was taught language and literature, music and art, sociology and physiology, theology and history at home. All through his life he read almost – all types of books and journals of the world and travelled extensively to Japan , Romania , China , Thailand , Russia , Germany , England , United States , Brasil and Argentina .
Born in 6th May 1961 , Tagore started his literary career at the age of twelve and wrote all through his life, more than sixty years. He died on 7th August 1941 . During this long period Tagore touched almost all facets of literature. He wrote as many as three thousand poems and songs, eight poetry-drama, nine plays, five dance drama, twelve novels, fifty short stories and seven volumes of essays on civilization, culture, education and literature. He also wrote many travelogues.
During his last thirty years, besides writing, Tagore also concentrated on painting and his outstanding works of art were exhibited in Paris , London , Berlin , Munich , Birmingham , New York and Moscow .
During 1912 to 1933, Tagore translated a good number of his own work in English. He was awarded the Noble Prize on Literature for his own translation of GEETANJALI (The Gardener, 1912).
Some of Tagore’s other English works are The Crescent Moon (1913), Realisation of Life (1913), The Post Office (1914), Songs of Kabir (1915), Cycle of Spring (1917), Nationalism (1917), Chitra (1917), Fireflies (1928), Red Orleander (1928), The Religion of Man (1931), Man (1932) and Personality (1937).
Tagore established Viswa Bharati ( World University ) in 1921, at Bolepur , India and named the place Santi Niketan (Abode of Peace), which in his lifetime became renowned as a great seat of learning on Bangali and Asian culture, music and literature. He invited and amassed manv philosophers and educationists from all over the world to enrich the standard of this institution, which, in later years, has got the status of a university.
Tagore was specially loved and honoured by all Bengali-speaking people of the world for his literature. Bengali (actually pronounced – BANGLA) is listed eighth among the world language. It would be the unique method of showing homage and gratitude to this great poet, if a comprehensive list of all the stamps published in his honour, could be prepared for the benefit of the collectors, who wish to collect and study on this subject.
It is interesting to note that the national anthems of both Bangladesh and India were selected from two most popular and most widely sung songs of Tagore. In this respect, Tagore is the only poet of the world to be the author of national anthems of two different nations of the world.
First stamp to be issued in memory of this great poet was a 12 anna (SG 342) vertical stamp, which, with other five, was issued from India in October 1, 1952 , to honour leading poets and philosophers of India . With a format of 41 mm x 25mm, it has 13.5 perforation.
Next stamp was also issued from India on May 7, 1961 , on poet’s birth centenary. This, a 15 n.p. (naya paise) denomination (SG 439), was printed in orange and green and is vertical (39.5mm X 29mm) has 11.5 perforation. The stamp was designed by Satyajit Ray, who later became famous as film director and earned many international prizes.
Soviet Union honoured the poet on 8th May 1961 , with a 6 k.(kopek) stamp (SG 2580), on the same occasion. Colour of the stamp is black, bistre and red. It is also a vertical stamp ( 37mm x 25.Smm ) and has 11.5 perforation.
Argentina issued one 2 peso stamp (SG 1014) on 13 May 1961 , also commemorating the same occasion. This vertical stamp (37mm x 26.Smm) was printed in light violet and green and has 11.5 perforation. It is interesting to note that the First Day Cover issued by Argentina in this occasion, shows poet’s profile with ‘Ashoka Chakra’ (WHEEL OF LIFE) initiated and erected by King Ashoka (269-122 B.C.) on a iron pillar in Bihar, India, which, after the independence of India in 1947, was added in the central part of the National Flag of India and ‘KUTB MINAR – a monument at Delhi (India), established in the 13th Century AD by Iltutmis (Altamas), another Muslim Ruler of India. None of the two archaeological structures or the places, where these two structures are situated or the sequences, relate to Tagore or his ancestors.
Brasil issued a 10 cruzero stamp (SG 1054) on 28th July 1961 . The stamp is printed in mauve and of vertical format (45mm x 26mm) with 11.5 perforation.
Romanian stamp of 40 bani (SG 2884) was issued with a set of six stamps on personalities, date of issue being 12th October 1961 . Printed in green, this rectangular (33.Snum x 28.Smm) has 14 perforation.
In 24th December 1971 , India issued another stamp of 20p (paise) to commemorate 50th anniversary of Viswa Bharati – the great seat of learning Bengali language, literature and culture. It shows the portrait of the poet and the main building of this university. It is a horizontal stamp 41mm X 24mm printed in sepia.
Sweden started honouring Nobel Laureates to commemorate diamond jubilee of the receipt of the prizes, since 1961. In 1973, Sweden issued a set of three stamps to honour Noble Laureates of 1913. The 1.40 Kr (Kroner) stamp of this set (SG 770) depicts Tagore, in profile and is printed in printed in green. It is of vertical format (32mm x 24mm) with 13 perforation on vertical sides and was issued in usual coil.
To commemorate the 120th birth anniversary of Tagore , Viet Nam issued a 30 xu (SG 502) vertical stamp (46mm x 27.Smm) with perforation of 10.5. The stamp was issued on May 7, 1982 . Its colour was orange and brown.
Bulgaria issued a vertical stamp (43mm x 33mm) of 30 s (SG 3069) in yellow and brown in1982 (issue date could not be ascertained, could anybody help me?). Its perforation is 13.5. This stamp was issued along with another stamp showing Simon Boliver. SG listed Tagore as a philosopher, though partially correct, but Tagore is more well-known as a poet and litterateur than a philosopher.
To commemorate 125th Birth Anniversary of Tagore, two new additions were included in this subject: Firstly, a private cover was issued by Rabindra Sadan (Rabindra Centre), Patna , India on May 7, 1986 . A special cancellor was provided by the post office on that cover. Secondly, a vertical stamp of Rs 2., denomination was issued by India , showing a self-sketch by Tagore. The stamp was issued on 7th May 1987.Size of the stamp is 40mm x 23mm and perforation is 13.5.
Stamp collectors could easily review Tagore’s eminence as an artist also. Poet’s self portrait can be seen in the Rupees 2 stamp issued on May 7, 1987 . as described in the earlier paragraph.
Tagore’s another painting could be seen on a Rupee 1 stamp issued to commemorate Contemporary Indian Painting with another three stamps. The picture (The Head) of the stamp is taken from a cover design of Tagore book “SHEY” (She). Size of the stamp is 48mm x 40mm and perforation is 13.5.
Comoros issued a 50 F(Franc) stamp in 1977 (actual date of issue could not be ascertained, help needed). This horizontal stamp, in a set of stamps, depicts Tagore’s portrait in profile in, the extreme left corner with other three Noble Laureates on Literature. This set of 5 stamps was also issued in imperforated form. There was another profile of a man beside Tagore whose identity was not given on the stamp(help needed).The size of the picture of these two stamps are SOmm X 32mm and perforation of’ the perforated stamp is 13.5. Here one thing to be noticed that name of Tagore has not been correctly written. It was written as R.T. Tagore (NOT as R.N. Tagore ).
Central African Republic (when it was named Central African Empire ) issued a souvenir sheet of 500 F in 1977 (also no date could be ascertained. Help needed). The size of the souvenir sheet is 118.Smm x 85mm with inside perforation of 14.5. The picture of the stamp inside the souvenir sheet shows, a man (poet Tagore ?) is teaching a child to write his first lesson. The words on the slate reads ‘Jai Hind” (Jai = Long Live, Hind = Hindustan = India ) in Hindi alphabet. If the man represent Tagore, then it is interesting to note, that Tagore DID NOT knew Hindi language well and he was out and out a Bengali, spoke culture, his institution ‘Viswa Bharati’ was established to uphold Bengali language and culture and his entire literary works were written in Bangla language. There was not a single line written in Hindi language, not even a letter. Besides, Hindi language got its importance in the international arena only after the independence of India in 1947, six years after the death of the poet.
United States did not issue stamp commemorating Tagore, though they issued two stamps on Gandhi. But I have been informed by one Indian philatelic dealer that, the United States Councillor Office at Calcutta introduced a meter-franking stamp on all letters despatched from this office during 1961-1962. The franking had following slogan:
U. S. honours
Rabindra Nath Tagore
1861 – 1961
I personally did not see such cancellor. Did any philatelist ever see such coneellor? Could anybody help me collect such postally-used cover/ post card with this slogan? If it is at all impossible to supply me one I Would request to send a xerox photocopy of the item.
These are all the information I have in my stock. I shall be grateful if anybody bring some more light on this subject and let me know. A study unit may be formed with those who collect Tagore stamp for their own benefit and for the benefit of other philatelists and to pay homage to this great poet. Let me quote only two lines from one of his three thousand poems:
More naam ei bole khyato hoke; Ami tomaderi loke.
(Let my name be prominence; that I’m of your kin)
– Siddique Mahmudur Rahman