first issues > countries > india

India (East India Company)

Wednesday, July 26, 1854

including the first issues of the Crown Colony, Empire, Dominion and Republic below

British Colony 5, a-d

Links to: Feudatory States, Convention States.

India (East India Company) Scott #2
India (East India Company) Scott #6
India (East India Company) Scott #7
  India (East India Company) Scott #2 India (East India Company) Scott #6 India (East India Company) Scott #7  

Imperforate, watermark 37 (Coat of Arms), lithography.
Printed by the Survey Office in Calcutta.

Description # issued Scott SG Mi Y&T
April 1, 1854. Not issued.
½ anna red
360 survive 1 1    
October 1, 1854.
½ anna blue, die I
30 million 2 2 - 5    
½ anna blue, die II
2,006,304 6 - 7    
1 anna red, die I
4,250,000 4 11 - 12    
1 anna red, die II
3,500,000 13 - 14    
October 13, 1854.
4 anna red & blue, 5 printings
1,659,984 6 17 - 26    
November 3, 1854. Typographed.
2 anna green
4 million 5 31, 34    
August, 1855.
½ anna blue, die III
4,750,000 2 8 - 10    
1 anna red, die III
1,520,000 7 15 - 16    

All issue quantities are approximate.
There is no Scott #3.

The Half Anna Vermilion and Deep Vermilion of 1854 were prepared but not officially placed in use. Only 360 stamps were not destroyed of a much larger printing.

The ½ anna blue, die III, was printed between July 3 and August 25, 1855. It is therefore obvious that it could not have been issued earlier than those dates.

Of the 1 anna red, die III, many were later destroyed but the exact number is unknown.

The 2 anna green was made by typography from copper cliches. 7 million were printed but around 3 million were later destroyed.

Several different watermarks appear among these stamps. The most common features the arms of the Honourable East India Company.

Thank you to Floyd Conaway for help with the issue dates and quantities. Mr. Conaway also provided the literature references.

Thank you to Rohan Khurana for the nice images and for additional help on the dates and quantities.

Mr. Conaway also provided this piece of insight: "These stamps were issued following a Commission of Inquiry, from which Act XVII of 1854 was passed, which established the Indian Post Office. The East India Company's posts are important, because the "Great Company" held sway over so much of the world's commerce in those days, extending across Asia and East Africa. It had its own armies and its own postal service; constructed railways and public works; and acted like an imperial force long before the Empire was established."

Much more information can be found in these sources:

The first stamps issued in India were the so called Scinde Dawks. See also the Feudatory and Convention States.


This page has been extended to show later phases of India's postal history.

Asia 13

Changes of Administration

ind54
ind84
inssg301
ind329
Crown Colony
9th May 1860
Empire
1882
Dominion
1947
Republic
1950
Sc19 SG52 Sc36 SG85 Sc201 SG302 Sc227 SG329 FICC633

Date Issue Format Scott SG Mi Y&T
9th May 1860
8 pies lilac
perf 14, unwmk, typographed
19 52    
1st Jan 1882
½ anna green
perf 14, wmk star, typographed
36 85    
21st Nov 1947
3½a orange-red, blue and green
perf 13½x14, wmk stars, litho
201 302    
26th Jan 1950
2a scarlet
perf 13, wmk stars, litho
227 329    

For 1860 Scott lists an Sc19C on bluish paper. This is SG51 in Gibbons.

On changes of administration, in 1858, Gibbons [1] notes, 'Queen Victoria assumed the government of the territories in India "heretofore administered in trust by the Honourable East India Company"'. They describe this as the Crown Colony period and from 1877, when Victoria assumed the title Empress of India as the Empire period. 1947 saw the Dominion period, leading to the Republic in 1950.

Sources:

1. Gibbons Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps 1840-52, 106th edn., 2003
Scott Classic, 10th edn., 2003

Images from ebay.

FI ref: 50, 90, 210, 611, 633 Page credit: JA/NB

Page created 19 Feb 2014 Page updated 29-May-2017