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Hobby of Philately

It is rightly said that "Philately is King of Hobbies". It is a delightful hobby that sharpens and satisfies our aesthetic tastes and gives us full time engagement and enjoyment. Through this hobby, we expand our knowledge of and interaction with the world we live in. We do get interesting details of politics, history , prominent personalities, national and international events, geography, flora and fauna, agriculture, science, monuments, soldiers, warriors, scientists, arms and ammunition, modes of transport etc by collecting stamps. This process of learning becomes more delightful through visuals and brief write-ups. In addition, philately cultivates a meticulous and focused attention to detail. It also helps to make friends across boundaries and age limits. Stamps are messengers of International good will, peace and amity and it has become a medium of communication of ideas of culture, literature, religion, science, commerce, history and industry. Different kinds of ideas spread through stamps that go to all men and women all over the world and it is truly global. Nobel Prize winner physicist Hans Bethe said,

"Stamp collecting is an orderly hobby and my album is the only place I know at the moment where the nations of the world stick together peaceably".

What is Philately?

The word 'Philately' comes from two Greek words, 'Philos', meaning 'loving' and 'atelos', meaning 'free of tax, or paid'. It is the study and collection of postage and revenue stamps which show that the postage or tax, has been paid. M G Herpin the French man has given this name "Philately" for stamp collecting. In fact, philately is very closely associated with postal services and Department. The word "Postia" is derived from the Latin word "Postal" means "Place". It obtained the exact meaning connected with the carrying of Letters in the later part of the middle age. Apart from collecting stamps, hobby of Philately includes labels, first day covers, cancellations such subjects associated with Postal Department.

Facets of Philately

Hobby of Philately has many facets which, in their own individual capacity, make its own beautiful separate category.

Traditional philately It is the study of the technical aspects of stamp production and stamp identification, including:

  1. The initial stamp design process;
  2. The paper used (wove, laid, etc., and including watermarks);
  3. The method of printing (engraving, typography, etc.);
  4. The gum;
  5. The method of separation (perforation, rouletting);
  6. Any overprints on the stamp;
  7. Any security markings, under prints or perforated initials ("perfins"); and,
  8. The study of philatelic fakes and forgeries.

Thematic philately: It is also known as topical philately, is the study of what is depicted on the stamps. There are hundreds of popular subjects, such as birds on stamps, and ships, poets, presidents, monarchs, maps, aircraft, space craft, sports and insects on stamps. Interesting aspects of topical philately include design mistakes and alterations too.

Aero philately: It is the branch of Postal history that specializes in the study of airmail. Philatelists have observed the development of mail transport by air from its beginning, and all aspects of airmail services have been extensively studied and documented by specialists.

Cinderella philately: It is the study of objects that look like stamps, but aren't postal stamps. Examples include Easter Seals, Christmas Seals, propaganda labels, and so forth.

Revenue philately: It is the study of stamps used to collect taxes or fees on such things as, legal documents, court fees, receipts, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, drugs and medicines, playing cards, hunting licenses and newspapers.

Maximaphily: It is the study of Maximum Cards. Maximum Cards can be defined as a picture post card with postage stamp on the same theme and a cancellation, with a maximum concordance between all three.

Postal history: It concentrates on the use of stamps on mail. It includes the study of postmarks, post offices, postal authorities, postal rates and regulations and the process by which letters are moved from sender to recipient, including routes and choice of conveyance.

Postal stationery: It includes stamped envelopes, postal cards, letter sheets, aerogramme (air letter sheets) and wrappers, most of which have an embossed or imprinted stamp or indicia indicating the prepayment of postage.

Philatelic literature: It documents the results of philatelic study and includes thousands of books and periodicals.

Main Categories of Philately

1. Stamps

Postage stamp, begun as a piece of paper in token of receipt of postage, has gradually assumed additional functions. It is a mode of commemorating, celebrating and promoting national heritage and events. It plays a great role as an ambassador. It symbolizes a brand image of postal administration. It is truly a statement of sovereignty of a nation. It actuality frames national identity and carries an important message to both the outside world and the home population. Stamps are thus referred to as bearers of nationalist thoughts, beliefs and principles.

As stamps have dual character, (1) one as a "Token of Postage" and (2) other as "Cultural Ambassador", in return they give us two categories of Stamps viz. Definitive and Commemorative.

(A) Definitive Stamps

The first one is Definitive Stamps which are meant for day-to-day use as a token of payment of postage on mail articles. Definitive are the workhorse stamps of a country, and as such, they tend to be small, with designs reflecting history, culture and achievements of the country. These incorporate less complicated design inputs, entailing minimum expenditure in their manufacture, and are printed in large quantities over longer periods.

Since definitive series are issued over a period of time and are reprinted to meet postal demand, they often contain more variation than is typically found in stamps that have a single print run. Different printing methods like Litho or Photogravure, experimenting with phosphors, changing watermarks and different perforations are common and prevalent source of variation in stamps. Many philatelists study these differences as part of their hobby and try to collect all the varieties of each stamp. Some varieties are particularly rare and can be more valuable than others of the same stamp that may look the same to the casual observer.

The term 'Definitive Stamp' is used in contrast with a 'Commemorative Stamp' issued to honor a person or mark a special event and available only for a limited time. It is observed that commemorative stamps are issued for a special anniversary or to celebrate an event, achievement, famous person or any other theme. As against this, definitive stamps are issued regularly by all small or big Post offices over the counter for daily use.

Unlike Commemorative stamps which have three to six different value denominations, a definitive issue or series includes stamps in a range of denominations sufficient to cover many or all postal rates. The underlining concept is that values should be sufficient to make up all possible charges using as few stamps as possible. The range of values varies by time and postal needs, but the focus is on all pervading coverage.

Definitive Stamps are those Postage stamps which are issued by Postal Department for regular consumer mail usage. They are sold for prolonged period of time unlike Commemorative and other special stamps offered for a limited period of time and are frequently replaced by a new issue or series.

The in-between values are usually chosen to "make change" efficiently. The relevant example is of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 paisa stamps in a decimal currency. It is common to include all values between 1 and 10, multiples of 5 from 10 to 50, and multiples of 10 from 50 to 100. Additional "oddball" values may reflect specific common rates, and if the series lasts for a period of time, there may be a number of such unusual values.

Generally the smallest value will be the smallest unit of currency, or smallest fractional postal rate; for instance, the 1957 Definitive series of Map of India has smallest stamps of 1np, 2np, 3np etc. Similarly, 1949 Archeological series and 1955 Five Year Plan series have stamps of 3p, 6p, 9p etc. The highest value of the series is generally quite large, typically from 50-100 times higher than the normal small denomination. Such typical values include 10 Rs, 15 Rs, 50 Rs etc. Such high value stamps are not often seen by the average person as they are most common for heavy parcels and packets.

The three sets of Indian definitive stamps issued in 1949, 1955 and 1957 outlined an official view of India as a cultural, economic and territorial nation. After India's independence, the medium of postage stamps was initially used to highlight the country's rich historic and cultural heritage mostly Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh and Jain temples, sculptures, monuments and fortresses through Archeological Stamps (1949). Subsequently in 2nd Series of Definitive Stamps (1955), achievements in science and technology as well as its socio-economic Development by depicting themes like the Five Year Plans, Steel Plants, Dams etc are shown. In the 3rd series of Definitive Stamps (1957), India's territorial boundaries are shown through Map Series. 'The Map of India Series' carries the same image of the map of India in various shades with an attractive arabesque pattern down the left-hand-side. The map highlights the main river systems and mountain ranges and does not include internal boundaries.

In subsequent Series of Definitive Stamps, India's rich cultural and natural heritage and various Development Projects came to be showcased along with great builders of nation. India Post made a very commendable effort in presenting Pictorial Definitive stamps of Flora & Fauna of various parts of our country. Indian Postal authorities also issued Definitive stamps which present portrait of national leaders who have shaped the country as social reformers, freedom fighters or political leaders. This is a commendable effort of India Post as it gives an opportunity or opens a window to the young generation to get inspiration from such national leaders who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom and progress of the country. Recently we have the Definitive series of Builders of Modern India.

Till now, India Post has issued 10 Series of Definitive Stamps:

  • 1st Definitive Archeological series (1949) present historical monuments of India
  • 2nd Definitive series (1955) depicts Agriculture and Multipurpose Projects of India
  • 3rd Definitive Series (1957) depicts Map of India (Andaman, Nicobar & Lakshadweep Islands are not shown in the design)
  • 4th Definitive Series (1965-1975) present Agriculture, Tourism, Export Promotion and Other subjects
  • 5th Definitive Series (1974) also present similar subjects of 4th Series with some modifications
  • 6th Definitive series (1979) presents different aspects of Rural Prosperity of India
  • 7th Definitive Series (1986) depicts Family Planning, Energy Conservation, Science and Technology
  • 8th Definitive Series (1994) present some Special Definitive showing Health and other themes
  • 9th Definitive Series (2000) present Flora and Fauna of India
  • 10th Definitive Series (2008) present Builders of Modern India

(B) Commemorative Stamps

The second one is Commemorative Stamps. They are designed and printed with greater aesthetic inputs. They are brought out to denote special occasions such as inaugurations, jubilees, centenaries, birth or death anniversaries, special exhibitions, meetings etc. It is noteworthy that a large number of occasional commemorative stamps celebrated the heroes of the nationalist freedom struggle. All these Commemorative Stamps are manufactured in limited quantities and generate great interest among philatelists and collectors.

Set of Stamps: Over the period, mode and pattern of issue of Commemorative Stamps have seen variations. We see more than one stamp issued on the same day in a form of a Set.

Se-tenant Stamps: We have also seen, Stamps issued in the form of Se-tenants. Stamps with different designs that are attached to one another are called "se-tenants". "Se-tenant" translates from French as meaning "holding together or "joined together". In French the word is pronounced "seh-tah-NOHN," while many American collectors pronounce it "seh-TEH-nent." The term is used to describe attached stamps that are different from one another. Se-tenant stamps began as issues of separate designs that were simply attached to one another which may be either one or more. They may have their attachments in horizontal or vertical strips or both types in one block of four. Sometimes, they may have attachments even at corner points. Moreover, we also find issues where the stamps are part of a larger continuous design.

Se-tenant Stamps can be available either from regular sheets or Sheetlets and from Miniature Sheets. Collectors around the world are fascinated by the various combinations of se-tenant stamps. Such items are not only collected as mint (unused) stamps, but also postal used and saved intact on a mailed cover. It has its own charm and charisma on FDC. Many creative philatelists are making variety covers with different variations. One can have glimpses of such varieties and variations in this book.

The occurrence of se-tenant stamps has increased dramatically during the past 30 years. We have seen from 1974 when first Se-tenant Stamps of Mathura Museum was issued, every year many stamps are issued in Se-tenant formats. And till 2012 about 126 Se-tenant stamps are issued. For many years, whenever a sheet of stamps was printed, every stamp on the sheet would have the same design. However now, Se-tenant stamps or labels are printed from the same plate and sheet and adjoin one another. They differ from each other by design, color, denomination or overprint. They may have a continuous design too.

Miniature Sheets: A miniature sheet or souvenir sheet is a small group of postage stamps attached to the sheet on which they were printed. Such stamps may be of special issues commemorating anniversary, centenary, theme or event. The number of stamps on MS ranges from one to about 12. MS of Geet Govind and MS with Zodiac Signs are the sterling examples large numbers of stamps. Both the stamps and the entire sheet are valid for mailing, although they are almost always sold above face value and kept in mint collection by collectors. From 1973 when first Miniature Sheet of India International Philatelic Exhibition was issued, about 106 Miniature Sheets are issued. All these Stamp-Format can be affixed on FDC or Folder and can be cancelled with First Day Postmark.

2. First Day Covers

Keeping in mind the information about stamps, let us understand First Day Covers. First Day Covers are issued on the first day of availability of new set of postage stamps. Thus First Day Covers are stamped envelopes that were processed at the post office where the stamp was issued, and has a cancellation indicating the same. The cancellation will often be specially designed for the occasion and frequently will say "First Day of Issue" or something similar.

Collecting First Day Covers is a popular aspect of stamp collecting and has a well-developed body of information and resources. One of the most well-known components of First Day Cover collecting are cachets. Cachets are the artwork that is added to the envelope, complementing the stamp subject. In addition to numerous commercial artists and firms that produce cachets, individual collectors will often design their own artwork. Certain cachets are sought after and cachets in general will enhance the value and the collectability of the first day cover.

In short, three basic elements are brought out together to create First Day Cover. (1) There should be a cover official or private, with or without cachet appropriate to the theme of stamp (2) Stamp or Stamps issued and (3) First Day Official cancellation postmark.

Apart from First Day Covers with single stamp, there are FDCs with Set of Stamps, Se-tenant Stamps and Miniature Sheets.

(a) First Day Covers with 'Set of Stamps' - Predecessors of 'Se-tenant stamps'

Many a time Indian Postal Department issue more than one stamp on the same day. Between 1947 and 1974, on various occasions, more than one stamp has been issued on the same day. Such stamps were issued in 'Set' depicting a specific theme or subject. Issue of such 'Set' continued even after 1974 i.e. after the introduction of Se-tenant stamps. Such 'Set of Stamps' depicting a specific subject and issued on the same day can be a very good collectible on FDCs. In Se-tenant stamps, two or more stamps of a particular subject are joined together and issued either in the form of Miniature Sheet, regular sheet or sheetlet. While in 'Set of Stamps', such subject is presented in two or more separate stamps which are issued on the same day in separate sheets.

All the stamps issued on the same day form a 'Set' and if they are affixed on one First Day Cover, such FDCs will be as colourful, attractive and interesting as Se-tenant FDCs. Moreover, a 'Set of Stamps' on First Day cover has its own philatelic worth as the FDC has some design on the cover along with the First Day Cancellation. During the pursuit of collecting such official FDCs with 'Set of Stamps', one may also find some First Day Cancelled Private covers or Special covers having some thematic and artistic design appropriate to the 'Set of Stamps'.

Thus, collecting official and private or special FDCs with 'Set of Stamps', can be a very good subject with thematic focus.

(b) First Day Covers with Se-tenant Stamps of India

There are differing ways of preparing a se-tenant sheet and accordingly we may have different patterns of First Day Covers with Se-tenant Stamps. They may be grouped as under:

(1) Horizontal pair of two (2) Vertical strip of three (3) Horizontal strip of three (4) Vertical strip of four (5) Horizontal strip of four (6) Variety of same Se-tenant stamps with block of four and vertical & horizontal strips (7) Horizontal strip of five (8) Vertical Strip of five (9) Horizontal & vertical both pattern in one block (10) Block of four with separate design stamps (11) Block of four forming continuous and compact design (12) Vertical strip of two continuous and compact design (13) Horizontal strip of two continuous and compact design (14) Four Se-tenant Stamps forming a Diamond shape (15) Se-tenant stamps forming an odd shape (16) Joint issue Se-tenant stamps with subject of another country on one stamp (17) Se-tenant Stamps with tete-beche format

(c) First Day Covers with Miniature Sheets of India

India Post has issued various types of Miniature Sheets with variety of different combinations. we may have different varieties of First Day Covers with Miniature Sheets. They may be grouped as under:

(1) MS having imperforate stamps (2) MS having margins or selvage of the sheet having additional legend of event or occasion printed (3) MS having a full picture of which the stamp(s) is (are) just a small part (4) MS having ornamental designs, price, emblems and logo(s) which are not the part of stamp(s) (5) MS where stamps are in se-tenant position while the same stamps are not se-tenants in regular issue (6) MS having appropriate fragrance (7) MS of Joint Issue of 2 countries with theme of other country on 1 stamp (8) MS having only single stamp (9) FDC with MS with only one stamp and issued only in the form of Souvenir Sheet (10) MS having stamp of Khadi cloth

(d) First Day Covers with 'Definitive Stamps' of India

As stated earlier, since 1949 till this date, India Post has issued about 10 Definitive Series along with some Special Definitive. It may be noted that official FDCs and Folders or Postal Bulletins are not issued in all these cases.

Some useful information and details are shared for the benefit of collectors and philatelists.

1. (a) For the 1st Series of Archeological Monuments and 2nd Series of Five Year Plan, specially printed First Day Covers were brought out on 15th August 1949 and 26th January 1955 respectively with special cachet postmarks to go with them.

(b) For subsequent issues in both the series, however, no FDCs or special postmarks were provided.

(c) Information Bulletin/Folder containing facsimiles of all the issues were also brought out for both the series.

(d) Bulletin Folder for the Archaeological Series was in English and was brought in two types of paper. One was normal paper while the other one was thick and had very sharp and clear print. Probably, the Bulletin Folder on thick paper was meant for VIPs and this is very rare to find.

(e) Folders for the Five Year Plan Series were brought out in English and Hindi.

2. For 3rd Series of Map Of India Stamps, no official FDC or Folder was brought out. However on its issue date of 1st April 1956, a special cachet postmark was provided. Subsequent issues of the series could, however, be cancelled with post office date-postmarks only.

3. (a) In respect of the Fourth Definitive Series (1965-75), dated FDCs with different designs, were brought out for all the issues (except the 4p and 25p stamps), but these were cancelled with normal date-stamps only.

(b) For the 4p, 15p, 25p and Rs. 10 issues, Information Sheets were also brought out for all the denominations.

4. (a) For the Fifth Definitive Series (1975-79), undated standard FDCs in 2 sizes (but with the same design) were provided for all the issues.

(b) The earlier issues in the series up to the middle of 1976 were cancelled with date-postmarks only, but for the later issues, the caption 'First Day of Issue' was added to the date-stamps.

(c) Folders were issued for all the stamps in the series.

5. Two undated standard FDCs with an enlarged stamp-design at left, were provided for issue in the Sixth Definitive Series (1980-86), one without a background for the stamp, and the other with it.

6. Moreover it is observed that in 6th Series stamps, in few cases designs have been repeated.

In 6th Series stamp of 100 (Hybrid Cotton) was issued on 17/06/1980 and the same design stamp was issued on 10/11/1983 with the difference of perforations. One was of 14 1/2x14 and another was of 13 Perforations.

In 6th Series stamp of 200 (Handloom weaving) was issued on 07/12/1980 and the same design stamp was issued on 10/11/1983 with the difference of perforations. One was of 14 1/2x14 and another was of 13 Perforations.

In 6th Series stamp of 325 (Oranges) was issued on 28/12/1982 and the same design stamp was issued on 12/08/1985 with the difference of position of watermark. In one case it was of upright and in another it was left side.

Definitive Stamp of 100 (Hybrid Cotton) - Same design on 17/06/1980 & 10/11/1983

Definitive Stamp of 200 (Handloom Weaving) - Same design on 07/12/1980 & 10/11/1983

Definitive Stamp of 325 (Oranges) - Same design on 28/12/1982 & 12/08/1985

7. It has also come to the notice that a Private Cover was issued by Datia Philatelic Society on 27-05-1980 featuring stamps of Nehru and Gandhi.

Nehru-Gandhi Definitive Stamps - 27-05-1980

Stamps affixed to all these covers were cancelled with the postmark 'First Day of Issue. No folders were issued for any of the stamps in this series.

It should be mentioned, though standard FDCs (without date) were brought out for issues of the Fifth and Sixth Definitive Series, in the absence of adequate supplies of these at the Philatelic Bureaus, collectors were often forced to take the postmarks on plain commercial envelopes.

8. (a) For issues of the Seventh Definitive Series (1986-), undated First Day Covers specially designed with cachet of subjects of Science and Technology, were brought out for use with sets of stamps issued on particular dates.

(b) No Folders were issued for any of the stamps in this Series.

9. For the 8th Series, We also find undated special cover with picture of Indian one horned Rhinoceros and legend VIII Definitive Series: The Natural Heritage of India. This cover was launched with the issue of 2 Stamps on Tiger-Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve and (1000p) and Leopard Cat (500p). This cover was used for other stamps of the series also.

10. It has also come to the notice that a Special Cover was issued for Special Definitive Series of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Dr B. R. Ambedkar in 2000 & 2001. All these 3 Stamps have been issued on different dates. Here a note is taken only about the issue of a Special Cover.

11. However, it seems, subsequently for 9th and 10th Series of Definitive Stamps, Official Folders and FDCs have not been brought and the postmark provided for the day of issue consisted of the date-stamp only, with the text 'First Day of Issue'.

3. Folders

Whenever any special stamp is issued, along with its First Day Cover with befitting cachet, a publicity brochure or an information folder is also brought out. It contains a brief write-up on the subject, designs, name of the designer and also technical data of the stamp. The brief write-up provided in a folder enlightens us with appropriate details of stamps which may be presenting politics, history , prominent personalities, national and international events, geography, flora and fauna, agriculture, science, monuments, soldiers, warriors, scientists, arms and ammunition, modes of transport etc. Thus process of learning becomes more delightful through visuals and brief write-ups. In addition, it cultivates a meticulous and focused attention to detail.

3.1 Indian Postal Department has issued various types of normal Folders/Brochures for Commemorative and Definitive Stamps with special cachet postmarks for information of general public. However, in few cases FDCs and Folders are not issued.

3.2 It should, however, be noted that till 1962 these Folders were issued by Postal Department as publicity material. They were meant for promotion of sales of new stamps, and hence they were distributed free. But, since these contained useful background information on the themes of the issues and technical data on the stamps, there was a gradual increase in their demand. The first Folder with price of 7 Naye Paise was published with the Red Cross Centenary issue of 8-5-1963.

3.3 Since 1947 till date, stamps and their details have been presented in various ways. For collectors' understanding, mainly they can be put as under:

  1. Philatelic bulletins
  2. Information Brochures
  3. Publicity Display Posters
  4. Publicity Brochures
  5. Booklet Folders
  6. Souvenir Albums with facsimile stamps
  7. Souvenir Albums with actual stamps
  8. Souvenir Albums with original stamps given to very high dignitaries and foreign delegates
  9. VIP Folders
  10. VIP Folders for Se-tenant Stamps
  11. VIP Presentation Folders for Set of Stamps
  12. VIP Presentation Albums
  13. Normal Folders for Commemorative Stamps
  14. Normal and VIP Folders for Definitive Stamps
  15. Folders separately produced in two languages-Hindi & English

1. Philatelic bulletins

In the beginning, immediately after Independence, in some cases Philatelic Bulletins are issued by Indian Postal Department in case of Commemorative and Definitive Stamps. These Postal Bulletins did have facsimile pictures of stamps along with some details about the stamp. Some philatelists of those days have affixed stamps on such bulletins/brochures and got them first day cancelled.

Republic of India 26-1-1950

2. Information Brochures

Here in this Brochure, details about Mahatma Gandhi's life is given along with the Space for the 4 Memorial Stamps. Philatelists have affixed Gandhi Memorial Stamps on this Brochure and got them cancelled. There are no technical data of stamps given in this Memorial Stamp Brochure. On the Brochure Producer of this Brochure is not mentioned. Only "Printed in India" words are seen at the back.

Mahatma Gandhi 15-8-1948

3. Publicity Display Posters

These Posters were meant for putting up on the Notice Board of various Post Offices to inform the general public about upcoming Postal stamps.

Independence Commemorative Issue 1947

4. Publicity Brochures

In early years of Independence, like Philatelic Bulletins, Publicity Brochures are also issued by Indian Postal Department in case of Commemorative and Definitive Stamps. These Publicity Brochures also have facsimile pictures of stamps along with some details about the stamp. As in earlier case of Philatelic Bulletins, some philatelists of those days have affixed stamps on such brochures and got them first day cancelled.

Saints & Poets 1-10-1952

5. Booklet Folders

In the early years, issue of Folders was not a regular feature. On some occasions, they were brought out as Complimentary colorful 'booklet-folders' which were brought out for presentation to dignitaries and important persons. They were mounted with set of special stamps and did not carry much of printed text. Later, these types of Complimentary "Booklet-Folders" were changed and are seen in form of white art-paper folders for presentation. These Folders were issued in conjunction with ordinary normal Folders which are issued with details of stamps.

2500th Buddha Jayanti 24-5-1956

6. Souvenir Albums with facsimile stamps

Indian Postal Department has also issued " Souvenir Albums with facsimile stamps " on specific occasion of Indian Postage Centenary. The jacket of the Albums are found in Blue, Black, Green and Red colors. The inner pages Contain facsimiles of Indian Stamps from 1854 to 1054.

Indian Postage Stamp Centenary 1-10-1954

7. Souvenir Albums with original stamps

Indian Postal Department had issued some Souvenir Albums with original stamps of Commemorative and Definitive Stamps for presenting them to VIPs.

Five Year Plan Series of Definitive Stamps 26-1-1955

8. Souvenir Albums with original stamps given to very high dignitaries and foreign delegates

On few occasions Indian Postal Department has issued "Souvenir Albums with original stamps" for distribution to very high dignitaries and foreign delegates. The black and golden album prepared with Mahatma Gandhi stamps of 15-8-1948 printed by Courvoisier of Switzerland was specially prepared for presentation to very high dignitaries. On the occasion of the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi on 2/10/1969, the Indian Posts & Telegraphs Department has presented a souvenir album with a selection of postage stamps of India to the delegates of the member countries of the UPU attending the Congress of Tokyo.

Selected Postage stamps on 2-10-1969

9. VIP Folders for Set of Stamps

These types of Complimentary art-paper Presentation Folders meant for dignitaries, are popularly known as VIP Folders in Indian Philatelic fraternity. They are made of white folded art-board and carry no background information on the stamps issued. Hence, they are distinguished from the colorful 'booklet-folders' which were brought out in the earlier years for presentation to dignitaries.

Dances of India 20-10-1975

10. VIP Folders for Se-tenant Stamps

There are no special folders issued for Se-tenant Stamps or Miniature sheets as they mostly contain regular Commemorative Stamps in specific forms. However, we do find some VIP Folders for "Se-tenant Stamps". It seems there are only 5 VIP Folders issued for Se-tenant Stamps viz. Mathura Museum (9-10-1974), Michelangelo (28-6-1975), Dandi March (2-10-1980), India's Struggle for Freedom (9-8-1983) and President's Review of the Fleet ( 12-2-1984). Others have not come to the notice.

Michelangelo 28-6-1975

11. VIP Presentation Albums

In respect of some of the issues, in addition to the usual 'printed information sheets', special VIP Presentation Folders are specially made hardbound, with raw silk and handmade paper, VIP Presentation Albums are also prepared by the Postal department. They contain specimens of the commemorative stamps mounted on them which are either mint or cancelled with the special postmark. In some such albums First Day Covers duly cancelled are also put for presentation to invitees at functions organized for the formal release of stamps.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose 23-1-1964

12. VIP Presentation Folder

Frequently India Post releases Presentation Packs with various Stamp releases. But sometimes, Special Presentation Packs are released for some special reasons and purposes.

Here four Khadi Presentation Packs which are rarely seen are presented. They are on “50 Years of Corbett National Park released on 15-12-1986”, “Indian Musical Instruments released on 29-12-1998”, “Endangered Species : Turtle released on 9-1-2000 & “India in Space released on 29-9-2000”.

50 Years of Corbett National Park  15-12-1986

Indian Musical Instruments 29-12-1998

India in Space 29-9-2000

Endangered Species : Turtle 29-1-2000

Subsequently, three more VIP Presentation Packs on Khadi Paper (Handmade Paper) were designed & Issued by India Post. These are all beautiful themes like Mahatma Gandhi on 2nd October 2001, Temple Architecture on 22nd December 2001 and Buddha Mahotsav on 21st January 2002. These all Presentation Packs carry Technical Details on the Backside of the Pack. Being Thematic, these are all collectibles and with the passing of the time, it is difficult to find one for our collection.

SNT - Mahatma Gandhi 2-10-2001

SET - Temple Architecture 22-12-2001

SET - Buddha Mahotsav 21-1-2002

13. Normal Folders for Commemorative Set of Stamps, Se-tenant Stamps & Miniature Sheets

These Folders contain information and background history on the themes of the issues and technical data on the stamps. No separate folders are issued for Se-tenant stamps and Miniature Sheets. However philatelists have prepared cancelled folders by affixing Se-tenant Stamps and Miniature Sheets on these regular normal Folders.

SET - Dances of India 20-10-1975

SNT - Dandi March 5-4-2005

MS of Snakes 12-11-2003

14. Normal and VIP Folders issued for Definitive Stamps

Just like normal folders for Commemorative Stamps, folders are issued for various series of Definitive Stamps. Since 1947 to 2012, 10 Series of Definitive stamps are issued with different themes.

Normal Folder-5th Def. Series 15-7-1975

VIP Folder - 4th Def. Series 15-3-1967

15. Folders separately produced in two different languages-Hindi & English

Such folders are found in Commemorative and Definitive stamps. Folders of Gandhi Centenary Commemorative Stamps 2-10-1969 and Five Year Plan Series Definitive Stamps 26-1-1955 are the sterling examples of this variety.

SET - Gandhi Centenary Commemorative Stamps 2-10-1969 - Hindi

SET - Gandhi Centenary Commemorative Stamps 2-10-1969 - English

SET - Five Year Plan Definitive Series 26-1-1955 - Hindi

SET - Five Year Plan Definitive Series 26-1-1955 - English

4. Postmarks or Cancellations

(a) Along with the issue of Stamps and FDCs, Indian Postal Department issues a special Postmark with subject of the stamp, issue date and name of the philatelic bureau. Variations in sizes of such Official Postmarks have also come to the notice. These are known as "Official Cancellations".

(b) Some philatelists have also made a sincere effort to prepare FDCs and use them commercially with appropriate stamps affixed on such covers. These covers are 'Commercially used FDCs' with official cancellation on properly stamped cover. Such FDCs are rare and carry more value.

(c) However, where the bureau facility was not available, collectors have tried to obtain cancellation of the same date from different Post Offices. These are known as "Date Cancellations".

(d) Some elite and senior philatelists have also tried to obtain the date cancellation of places of Post Offices connected with the theme of postal stamps. These are known as "Special Place Cancellations".


This Website is an effort to present various facets of Indian Philately except Postal Stationery which may be taken up in future if time and space permit. It is not claimed that this site is complete and comprehensive. There may be many subjects, themes and items which could have come. However it is humbly accepted that it is an attempt to put some of the facets for the benefit of the collectors and philatelists.

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