Collectors' Stamps From India
The world's largest democracy, India has a long and rich philatelic history dating back to its time as a British protectorate. In fact, there's evidence to suggest postal service in the region was present even earlier, with references to messenger systems found on clay tablets from around 2000 BC.
Today, a rising middle class has made India an emerging market for collector's stamps, with specialists focusing on both the Raj and post-independence periods.
India's Philatelic History
The first stamps used in what is now India were issued in 1852. With the East India Company's presence in the Sindh region, postal rates were formalized, and the Scinde Dawk, an embossed circular stamp, was issued for prepayment. Consisting of a wax seal impressed on paper, few of these rare Indian stamps are extant today, and forgeries are commonplace.
In 1854, mail delivery in India became more widespread, following the adoption of a series of reforms proposed by the British parliament. With this, more conventional stamps were issued in ½ anna denominations. In keeping with British convention, these predominantly featured the engraved profiles of Queen Victoria and other monarchs.
Mail delivery in British India quickly took off. By 1866, the volume of mail being delivered had doubled, and further changes were necessary to keep up with demand. New rates were set, and steamer service between India and Europe was introduced. At one point, a shortage of stamps forced authorities to use revenue stamps, overprinted with the words "INDIA POSTAGE," for mail delivery.
Other Rare Indian Collectors' Stamps
Prior to independence, several Indian states issued their own stamps for local use. Known as the Feudatory States, these regions produced some of the rarest Indian stamps, in part because local printing methods made them extremely fragile. Though not known for their beauty, India's Feudatory State stamps constitute a rich and complex area of study in their own right, making them worthy of investigation by any ambitious collector.
Indian Stamps Post-Independence
India's independence from Britain in 1947 is one of the key events that has shaped our modern world. The new country issued its first stamp on November 21 of that year, featuring the Indian flag. Other early stamps celebrated the great hero of the independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi, as well as a variety of themes reflecting India's diverse cultural heritage.
Where to Buy Rare Indian Collectors’ Stamps
Apfelbaum, Inc. has a large inventory of rare Indian collectors' stamps for sale. We offer several ways to buy online with confidence, including our Buy-It-Now sales and online Stamp Store. We also offer appraisal services for anyone concerned about forgeries, a common problem when collecting Indian stamps.
No matter what area or period of the country's complex philatelic history you're interested in, you can find everything you need to start or grow a collection at Apfelbaum, Inc. Since 1910, we have been a leading authority on rare and valuable stamps from around the world. Keep browsing our website to learn more, or contact our office directly for assistance.