Collecting Worldwide, Stamp Issuers

Stamp Issuers: Alwar

Alwar1010Alwar_flag.svg

Princely State of Alwar (1877-1902)

LOCATION: A Feudatory State of India, lying southwest of Delhi
in the Jaipur Residency
AREA: 3,300 sq. mi. (8,547 sq. km)
POPULATION: 682,900 (est. 1895)
GOVERNMENT: Princely State of India
CAPITAL: Alwar

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED: February 1877
LAST STAMPS ISSUED: 1901

CURRENCY:
12 Pies = 1 Anna; 16 Annas = 1 Rupee

Alwar (अलवर) was a princely state in northern India.  It was named after a Khazada ruler, Ulawar Khan, who established his kingdom in the region in 1412.  Formerly spelt as “Ulwar” in British India which placed it in last position in alphabetically ordered lists, a ruler changed the spelling to “Alwar” to bring it to the top.  It became a recognized Rajput kingdom in 1771 when Pratap Singh conquered the city of Alwar and broke from under the rule of the Maratha Empire. It was ruled by the Rajput dynasty during the period of the British Raj in India. Alwar became the first Indian State to sign an alliance with the British East India Company following the Battle of Laswari in 1803.

alwar_railway_map

It was named after a Khazada ruler, Ulawar Khan, who established his kingdom in the region in 1412. Formerly spelt as “Ulwar” in British India which placed it in last position in alphabetically ordered lists, a ruler changed the spelling to “Alwar” to bring it to the top. It became a recognized Rajput kingdom in 1771 when Pratap Singh conquered the city of Alwar and broke from under the rule of the Maratha Empire. It was ruled by the Rajput dynasty during the period of
the British Raj in India. Alwar became the first Indian State to sign an alliance with the British East India Company following the Battle of Laswari in 1803.

British colonial authorities ruled India with two administrative systems. About 60 percent of the Indian sub-continent were provinces and territories directly under British colonial administration – known as Convention States – while the remaining 40 percent were native Indian – Princely, or Feudatory – States under direct treaty relations with British India. Feudatory States, such as Alwar, ran their own postal systems and issued stamps which were valid only in that particular state. Convention States had an agreement with the British India postal system to handle internal postage.

Alwar-karauli_map

Following the independence of India in 1947, Alwar acceded unto the dominion of India. On 18 March 1948, the state merged with three neighboring princely states (Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli) to form the Matsya Union. This union in turn merged into the Union of India. On 15 May 1949, it was united with certain other princely states and the territory of Ajmer to form the present-day Indian state of Rajasthan.

British colonial authorities ruled India with two administrative systems.  About 60 percent of the Indian sub-continent were provinces and territories directly under British colonial administration – known as Convention States – while the remaining 40 percent were native Indian – Princely, or Feudatory – States under direct treaty relations with British India.  Feudatory States, such as Alwar, ran their own postal systems and issued stamps which were valid only in that particular state.  Convention States had an agreement with the British India postal system to handle internal postage.

15596207_5_l

Following the independence of India in 1947, Alwar acceded unto the dominion of India. On 18 March 1948, the state merged with three neighboring princely states (Bharatpur, Dholpur and Karauli) to form the Matsya Union. This union in turn merged into the Union of India. On 15 May 1949, it was united with certain other princely states and the territory of Ajmer to form the present-day Indian state of Rajasthan.

The first stamps of Alwar State appeared in February 1877 but may have been issued as early as September 1876.  They were valid until 1 July 1902 when the postal service was taken over by the British Imperial Post.  The design remained virtually unchanged during this 25-year period and features a native dagger known as a Kandjar pointing to the right.  This is a fiendish weapon that, when squeezed by the user, the blades open like scissors inside the victim.  The state name, Raj Alwar, is written above the dagger and below it the denomination, both in Devanagari script. 

Scan_20160331 (1)

Alwar’s stamps were printed in two denominations, ¼ anna and 1 anna, printed by lithography.  Those of the first issue were produced from a single master die for the ¼a value.  Six transfers were taken from this to produce an intermediate matrix stone and that was transferred numerous times onto the actual printing stone.  Perhaps twenty-five transfers were made from the matrix stone to the printing stone for the ¼a value, resulting in a sheet of 150 stamps each inscribed in Hindi “pav anna” (quarter anna).  There were two separate printings.

The 1 anna stamps were produced by adapting matrix stones prepared from the ¼a die to the new value by erasing the word “pav” and inserting a tiny plug bearing the word “ek” (one).  Sheets of 70 and of 150 stamps seem to have been produced in separate printings. 

Scan_20160331 (4)

The first issue of 1877 was rouletted, but this was not always perfect and pairs are known of both denominations which are imperforate between stamps, either horizontally or vertically.  The frame lines at the left and bottom of the stamps are thick.  The ¼a was issued in various shades of blue and the 1a in several shades of brown.  Scott lists two varieties for the ¼a (Scott #1 in ultramarine and #1a in blue) and three for the 1a (Scott #2 in brown, #2a is yellow brown, and #2b in red brown).

In 1899 the design of the ¼ anna stamp was redrawn and a new master die was produced from which transfers were made to the printing stone without any intermediate matrix in ten horizontal rows of six.  In these issues, only the bottom frame line is thick and the stamps were pin-perforated 12.  In the first printing of the redrawn issues, the stamps were set further apart in the sheet.  The wider margins, averaging about 3mm, are obvious.  The color of this issue is a deep slate-blue, distinct from the paler shades of the first issue, and is listed in the Scott Catalogue as #3.

Scan_20160331 (2)

Towards the end of 1899, a printing of the ¼a was made from a new stone in an emerald green color.  These also have wide margins but the size of the sheet and their arrangement is unknown.  They are the scarcest of all the Alwar stamps.  Although this issue was not reported until 1904, it was probably the earliest printing of the value in green, because of its similarity in spacing to that of 1899.  The only known used copy is dated 7 August 1901.  It is given the minor listing of #4b in Scott.

Between 1899 and 1901 another printing of the ¼a in emerald green was made, from another new stone, in which the stamps were set close together, with narrow margins, in eleven rows of seven stamps.  The earliest recorded postmark for this issue (Scott #4c) is 3 January 1901.  Finally, a printing of the ¼a with narrow margins was made, again from a new stone and again set close together, arranged in five rows of seven.  In this issue the stamps were printed in a pale yellowish green and are listed as Scott #4.

Scan_20160331 (0)

Scott #1-4 occasionally show portions of the papermaker’s watermark, W. T. & Co.

The Scott catalogue assigns four major numbers and five minor numbers for shades, plus three additional minor numbers for imperforarate pairs.  I have a total of seven Alwar stamps, some of which may be duplicates.  I’m not certain if my copies of the ¼a from 1877 are Scott #1 (ultramarine) or Scott #1a (blue or steel blue as described by the Stanley Gibbons catalog), nor am I sure about the shades of the 1 anna (#2 brown, #2a yellow brown, #2b red brown – which may be the same that Gibbons calls “chocolate”).  I AM sure that none of those ¼a’s are Scott #3 as they all feature a thick left border, nor do I have the emerald wide margins stamp of 1899 (Scott #4b) which is worth US $600 in my 2009 edition of the catalogue.

Advertisements

1 thought on “Stamp Issuers: Alwar”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s