Author Topic: My stamp collection  (Read 466 times)

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Offline Overlord

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My stamp collection
« on: July 12, 2008, 12:45:35 PM »
British India

The first lithographed stamps issued in India were designed by Captain H.L. Thuillier, Deputy Surveyor General, who was in charge of the lithographic department of the Survey office in Calcutta. These stamps were issued in denominations of Half Anna, 1 Anna, and 4 Anna (the 8 Anna variety proposed by Thuillier was rejected).

Thuillier wanted to use black ink for printing the stamps (in the style of the Penny Black). However, this idea was rejected on the grounds that black colour would make re-use of lightly-cancelled stamps considerably easier. Therefore, the approved design of the 1/2 Anna variety was first printed using English Vermilion ink. When the supply of the aforementioned ink was exhausted, Indian Vermilion was tried. However, this proved disastrous and ended up spoiling the printing stones. The stock that had already been dispatched for issue was withdrawn immediately and, thus, the first Indian stamps of the Half Anna denomination were never issued. Fresh plates were made after making changes in the design and stamps printed using refined indigo blue ink from Bengal. These were engraved by Indian artist and draughtsman Muneerooddin.

The process adapted for printing these stamps is described below:

1. The design of the stamp was engraved (in reverse) on copper plates.
2. This design was transferred to a transfer paper.
3. The design obtained on the transfer paper was transferred on to the printing stone (using greasy ink).
4. The stone was moistened and coloured with greasy ink.
5. A sheet of paper was pressed against the stone and a print of the stamps obtained.

For the Half Anna variety, 24 impressions (in three rows of 8 stamps each) were transferred to a small stone (using the process described above), termed the Intermediate stone. Printing from this small stone was not feasible as a million or so stamps were required. Therefore, Thuillier transferred these 24 impressions four times onto a large stone, completing a sheet of 96 stamps. This stone is referred to as the Parent stone. The Parent stone was still not enough for the volume of stamps required to be printed. Therefore, a fresh transfer was made from the parent stone and laid down thrice onto a large stone (to obtain 288 stamps in one impression), which was termed the printing stone. More transfers were made from the printing stones to newer stones, termed Sub-stones.

These stones were subject to wear and tear during the course of printing and the worn areas had to be repaired from time to time. Such alterations are termed "re-touches". When the stones were so worn that printing from them was no longer possible, the Intermediate stone had to be taken out and the entire process repeated! Several such cycles resulted in the wearing of the Intermediate stone itself. At this stage, the master die was taken out and the design was re-drawn, resulting in a new die known as Die II. Stamps produced from Die II were expected to be enough to meet the local demand till stamps from M/s Thomas de la Rue & Co., London arrived. However, overwhelming demand resulted in a new die, Die III.

Differences in the details of the chignon, corner ornaments, diadem, etc., allow us to distinguish between the stamps printed using different dies.

Lithographed Half Anna, Die I (Issued on 1 October, 1854)


Offline Overlord

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Re: My stamp collection
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2008, 12:47:48 PM »
Thuillier began work on the One Anna variety using a better version of the Indian vermilion ink. Similar to the Half Anna variety, three different dies of the One Anna variety are known. These can again be distinguished on the basis of the differences in details of the chignon, corner ornaments, diadem, etc.

Lithographed One Anna (1854)

Die I


Die II


Offline Overlord

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Re: My stamp collection
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2008, 12:50:46 PM »
The design for the Two Anna variety was prepared by Colonel Forbes (at Calcutta mint). These issues were typographed.

Typographed Two Annas (October 4, 1854)

Offline Overlord

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Re: My stamp collection
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2008, 12:54:29 PM »
Lithographed Four Annas was probably the world's first bi-colour stamp. Designed by Captain H.L. Thuillier and engraved by Muneerooddin, these stamps were initially produced in sheets of 12. The number was increased to 24 stamps per sheet when the demand increased. As in the case of Half Anna and One Anna varieties, three dies of the Four Anna variety are known. Copies that are cut square are about 25 times scarcer (and MUCH more expensive) than cut-to-shape ones.

Lithographed Four Annas (1854): Cut to shape, stuck on a piece of paper, damaged, and so heavily cancelled that it becomes very hard to identify the die. In short, the only specimen I could afford  :D