An Easy to Spot Charkhari Variety – By W. Danforth Walker, RDP, FRPSL
Charkhari is a Princely State in central India (a section of India known as Bundelkhand). The capital is Charkhari Town. The area of the state was approximately 703 square miles with a population of 143,108 in 1900. The state post office was founded in 1893 and it issued its first postage stamp in 1894. Charkhari became part of Vindhya Pradesh by 1 May 1948 and this officially ended the use of Princely state Charkhari stamps..
The author uses the current Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth catalog and the Gibbons catalog numbers to identify the four stamps discussed in this article. The four stamps are distinctive since they are 63 mm long and 25 mm high. The four stamps are identified as SG (Stanley Gibbons) 29, 29a, 30 and 30a.
Illustration 1 shows the easy to spot variety, a dot replacing the “O” in P•STAGE in the dull purple long (63mm x 25mm) one anna REVENUE & P•STAGE stamp, SG 29a. This article will provide details of this variety as well as the four listed stamps that are 63 mm long and 25 mm wide on wove and laid papers, SG 29, 29a, 30 and 30a. Because the stamp was handstamped, probably by a rubber handstamp, caution is advised on these stamps due to forgeries. The issuing of these stamps with a rubber handstamp makes it easy to forge the stamps by simply making a color photocopy. In the forgery section below there is information on the forgeries and how to detect them.
Initial Exclusive Revenue Use
The first reference to this stamp that the author has found is in the Philatelic Journal of India, August 1922, page 107:
“CHARKARI – Mr. D.R. Martin has kindly shown us a 1 anna stamp made by a hand stamp and bearing the lettering “POSTAGE AND REVENUE”. The stamp is 63 mm long by 25 mm high and the colour is violet. Mr. Martin’s copies are cancelled, but on enquiry from the Head Postmaster he learns that the stamp is intended solely for revenue purposes, despite the presence of the words “POSTAGE AND REVENUE.” Mr. Martin remarks that his copies must presumably have been cancelled illegally.”
One correction to the quote, as Illustration 1 shows, the English wording on the stamps is “REVENUE &POSTAGE” not “POSTAGE AND REVENUE” as used in the quote.
Stanley Gibbons lists the four stamps that are a distinctive 63 mm long and 25 mm wide, printed on white, off white and toned white wove (SG 29 and 29a) and laid (SG 30 and 30a) papers. Gibbons lists the stamps as issued in 1921. This is probably true for the wove paper violet stamp but the wove paper dull purple stamp, as the only stamp the author has found with the dot replacing the “O” in P•STAGE, is probably the last of the four stamps to be issued. The two laid paper stamps were probably issued after 1921 as they were in use from 1928 to 1931 as postage stamps.
The more important point is that the violet stamp on wove paper was originally issued for revenue purposes, not postage purposes. Of the four stamps (SG29, 29a, 30 and 30a) the author has 12 covers, one piece and one stamp postally used. As will be explained below, the dates of covers and stamps are very hard to assess as the cds cancel(s) is always very indistinct. Nonetheless, of the 14 postally used copies, all appear to fall in the range of 1928 to 1931. It is likely that from 1921 to approximately 1928 the stamps were exclusively used for revenue purposes! From 1928 to 1931 one or more of the four stamps were used for both postal and revenue purposes.
Before discussing the development of the dot for “O” in P•STAGE variety, the author will discuss the characteristics of the four 63 mm x 25 mm stamps, SG 29, 29a 30 and 30a.
One Anna imperforate violet on wove paper, SG 29.
This was most likely the first of the four stamps, sized 63 mm x 25 mm, to be printed. The stamps are handstamped (probably with a rubber handstamp) on wove paper and the wove paper can range from an off white to toned. The stamps are imperforate, no gum and do not have a watermark.
Be very careful of unused and used off cover stamps, this stamp is heavily forged; the forgers used a color photocopy with the violet color. The details of the handstamp are correct as the photocopy is also correctly sized. Pristine unused or used off cover copies of the stamp are often forgeries thus genuine unused and used off cover stamps are very scarce.
Illustrations 2 and 3
The six covers in the author’s collection of this stamp are franked with a pair or two singles, all in the period 1928 to 1931. The covers are handmade covers made with rough brownish paper, 163 to 255 mm long. The cds cancels are exceedingly hard to read as they are very worn compared to very clear strikes of two cds cancels dated in October 1894 in the authors collection (Illustrations 2 and 3); these two cancels seem to be the only two cancels used on this stamp or the other three 63 mm x 25 mm stamps and postally used pieces and covers discussed in this article. Thus, the two cancels found on covers in the 1928 to 1931-time frame are 35 plus years old. Stamps on cover generally are damaged.
The sheet size is unknown, but the author’s best guess is 24 (3 x 8). This guess of 24 for the sheet size is based on two multiples in the author’s collection; both multiples are photocopy forgeries of actual multiple blocks! First is a photocopy forged multiple of a block of 16 (2 x 8), probably of the violet on wove imperforate stamp with a 10 mm margin on top and a 19 mm margin on the bottom, possibly missing the left-hand strip of 8 stamps from a complete sheet. The second photocopy forged multiple is a perforated 11 block of 6 (3 x 2) on laid paper with imperforate edges on the left, bottom and right sides, possibly the bottom two rows of a sheet with the top six rows of three missing.
One Anna imperforate dull purple on wove paper, SG 29a.
This maybe the last of the four stamps placed in use as all the varieties with a dot for the “O” in P•STAGE are in the dull purple shade on wove paper. This variety probably developed due to the long use (from 1921 to 1931) of the rubber handstamp and damage that occurred to the letter “O” in postage late in the handstamps use. Like the one anna imperforate violet, the paper of SG 29a is wove, the stamps are imperforate, no watermark and no gum. The paper ranges from off white to toned. The comments about the sheet size are the same as discussed above for SG 29.
The author has only one cover franked with two copies of this stamp and the two single stamps are much more in a mauve shade than dull purple and since the cover date is possible 13 August 1928 the stamps on the cover maybe from an uncatalogued color variety and not the actual dull purple on wove, SG 29a. The comments about the handmade envelopes and their long size are the same as stated in the discussion of SG 29 covers.
One Anna perforated 11, violet on laid paper, SG 30.
Of the four stamps sized 63 mm x 25 mm, this is the only stamp that was perforated. The perforations are distinctive, very clean cut and the perforation 11 holes are relatively large. The perforations appear to be different than the perforation 11 of the 1909-1919 issue but similar to the 1 pice deep blue, perforation 11 horizontal of 1939 (SG 30c).
The laid paper is horizontal laid and ranges from white to toned. There is no watermark and the stamps were issued without gum. The comments about the sheet size are the same as discussed above for SG 29.
I only have one cover used in 1931 based on a manuscript cancel on the cover. Like the covers described for SG 29, this cover is long, 185 mm long, and handmade with rough brownish paper. The cds is unreadable but there is a manuscript date on the cover.
One Anna imperforate, violet on laid paper, SG 30a.
This final cataloged sized 63 mm x 25 mm stamp is imperforate on horizontal laid paper (SG 30a). The paper does not have a watermark and it was issued without gum. It was probably issued before the perforated laid paper stamp, SG 30. The author has covers dated 1928, 1929 and 1930 and a fourth cover where the date cannot be determined. Like the covers described for SG 29, the covers are long, and handmade with rough brownish paper.
Genuine unused and postally used copies of SG 30a are scarce. The author only has one unused and one postally used copy of this stamp. The unused copy is heavily toned, and the violet ink almost looks black rather than violet.
Revenue Use of the 63 mm x 25 mm Stamps.
All four stamps described above were used for revenue purposes. All revenue used stamps that the author has seen of this issue have manuscript cancels, normally just a line or two of scribbles. Specialists believe that whatever 63 mm x 25 mm stamp was in use from 1921 to early 1928 was used for revenue purposes and from 1928 to 1931 all four of the 63 mm x 25 mm stamps described above were used for both revenue and postage purposes.
The author has a document with strong and clear impressions of two Charkhari cds cancels dated 1894, the first year that Charkhari issued postage stamps. Both cancels use English characters and dates. The first cds, Illustration 2, reads around the top “CHARKHARI STATE”, horizontally below is H.P.O. (Head Post Office?) and horizontally below the day, the month in two letters and a two-digit year (94 for 1894). The second cds, Illustration 3, also reads around the top “CHARKHARI STATE”, with small crosses before and after and “SATWARA” around the bottom of the cds. Horizontally below the “CHARKHARI STATE” is B.P.O. (Bundelkhand ((is located in central India)) Post Office) and horizontally below the day, the month in two digits rather than letters and a two-digit year (94 for 1894).
Illustrations 4 and Illustration 5
The author believes that these two cds cancels are the only single circle cds cancels used by Charkhari up to approximately 1940. During the period 1928 to 1931 when the four 63 mmx 25mm stamps were in use for postal purposes the cancels were so deteriorated that it is uncertain which cancel was used; but it does appear that one of these two cancels were exclusively used to cancel all the used copies of the four stamps discussed in this article. Illustrations 4 and Illustration 5 show two examples of how the very hard to read cancels appear on covers.
One or both of these cancels were also used on the following Charkhari issue of 1930 to 1945, the “left-hand sword over the right-hand sword, SG 31 to 44. For the 1930 to 1945 issue, the author believes that the very deteriorated cancel(s) did not change the date slugs (normally only part of a date is present) in the cancel(s). Thus, if the date in the cancel is readable, the date is useless information. Because of the very deteriorated state of the cancel, it is normally not possible to read much of the cancel date and when something is visible in normally appears to be only“JU”.
Forgeries and Fakes
Colored photocopy forgeries exist. Be concerned when the print is fuzzy. Illustration 6 shows a photocopy forgery of the “POSTAGE &REVENUE” portion of a forged stamp and Illustration 7 shows the same section of a genuine stamp. Notice how the forged stamp has “fuzzy” rubber hand stamped letters while the genuine stamp has the letters much more clearly defined.
Illustration 6 and 7
The author has an imperforate block of eight on white wove paper with six postmarks as well as two singles with postmarks; all dated 18 JU 22. This is a photocopy forgery as the stamps are not used for postal service until 1928. Note that in the beginning of this article in a quote, Mr. D.R. Martin discussed his used copies in the August 1922 issue of the Philatelic Journal of India. Could the photocopies of these “fuzzy” block of 8 and two singles be photocopies of D.R. Martin’s “illegal used SG 29”?
When assessing if a stamp is a forgery or genuine stamp, the paper the stamp is printed on is not, at this time, a helpful indicator. The author has not seen enough examples of the wove paper used for SG 29or 29a or the laid paper used for SG 30 and 30a to help in identifying the bad stamp from the good stamp.
Illustration 8, 9 and 10
Development of the Variety Dot for “O” in P•OSTAGE
Illustration 8 shows the word “POSTAGE” without the variety, the original impression. Illustration 9 shows the start of the flaw with the “O” of POSTAGE intact but the dot inside the “O”. Illustration 10 shows the dot for an “O” in P•STAGE variety. In other words, the rubber handstamp has completely lost the “O” of P•STAGE and just shows the dot. Illustration 11 shows a double variety; one variety is the dot for the “O” of P•STAGE and the second variety is a double impression. Finally, Illustration 12 shows the final form of the variety on a stamp uncanceled, but nonetheless a revenue used of the stamp. The handstamp still has the dot for “O” in P•STAGE variety and affixed to the handstamp is a small round new “O”! Maybe some lucky collector will find a unused or postally used genuine copy of SG 29a with the variety “O” in P•STAGE and this dot encircled by a small round “O”.
Illustration 11 and 12
The author would appreciate any comments, corrections or new information readers might have. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks Dan Walker