Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


"Imperial India"


Mr. Ken Adams


Ken Adams of the India Study Circle was the Guest speaker at the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society on Friday, 4th March. His subject was ‘Imperial India’ and his display gave a fascinating insight into the Postal History of that era.


The display began from 1818 when the postman collected the postage fee – until in 1823 mail was either pre-paid or paid by the recipient. At this time there were Postal Runners with a network of camels and horses and different areas of India had its own postal system. Eventually there was a desire for unification and in 1837 the Indian Post Office was established.


There were fascinating postcards of Indian postmen – showing the uniforms of the different areas. These men had to know their area, know the names of people – (there were no street addresses as in the UK) – and be fluent in all the local languages!


It was discovered that the 1 rupee stamp was very easy to forge – so bi-coloured stamps were issued to overcome the problem.


In 1854 the first postage stamp for India, showing a youthful Queen Victoria, was issued. The Indian Civil Service, for their own postal service - overprinted these – from 1867 – 1874 with "SERVICE" – and from 1874 - 1882  with O.H.M.S.


From 1902 – 1911 – the stamps depicted King Edward VII – followed, in late 1911, by an issue showing King George V. A special postmark was used to commemorate his coronation and another special postmark commemorated his visit to India in December 1911. 


The second round was one commemorative stamps and postmarks issued in India through the years. This began with the first Aerial Post in February, 1911; fundraising for a Hospital Ship; the inauguration of the new administration capital of India at New Delhi; the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935 etc. Another issue was in 1933 commemorating the first flight over Mount Everest – the Houston-Mount Everest expedition – when one of the pilots was Lord Clydesdale (later, Duke of Hamilton).   


Devastating floods at Sind in 1930 and a destructive earthquake at Quetta in 1935 – in which the Post Office was destroyed necessitating in the use of postmarks only as no stamps were available!


Of much interest was the "Pigeon Mail" – the first flight on 18th February, 1931, of 42 pigeons from Asansol and Calcutta. They left at 7:06am and the first bird arrived – 132 miles – at 10:05am.  There were various artefacts connected with this type of mail!



David Haig led the Vote of Thanks for what had proved to be a fabulous collection and aroused much interest.


Our next meeting in St Andrews Parish Church Hall, Avon Street, Hamilton,  is on Friday, 18th March, 2011 at 7:30pm when we look forward to a visit from members of the Scottish Philatelic Society. 


Anyone with an interest in stamps, postal history, postcards etc is very welcome to attend.