Rare Historical Stamps of India

Rare Historical Stamps of India

Stamps of India have been a reflection of our country’s image. There is a lot to explore when it comes to the history of Indian stamps. Some of these old Indian stamps are extremely rare. Let’s take a quick look at some interesting facts about Indian Philately. Philately is the name given to the study of postage stamps.

Indian stamps have evolved quite a bit, from the ancient period to the modern times; they have enriched themselves in every era. Over the years, ever since independence, they have portrayed various subjects that have defined our nation. From culture and traditions to famous personalities, inventions, wildlife, and more, through the study of Indian Stamps one can get a complete overview of the diversity of India. Every part of the country is unique on its own, but all these colorful aspects make one beautiful rainbow of Indian culture.

PM Narendra Modi recently released a set of stamps depicting various aspects of Lord Rama and Ramayana, one of the greatest Indian epics. Then there are scented stamps of India which come with the odor of sandalwood, coffee, and jasmine. Generally, all stamps are either square-shaped or rectangular. There are some uniquely shaped stamps in India like the hexagonal stamp featuring turtles.

Let us look at some of the most incredible vintage Indian stamps that take you through interesting historical events in India and around the world.

1. Before Independence 

Scinde Dawk
Scinde Dawk, 1854-1865

Scinde Dawk is not only considered to be the very first stamps of India but also as the earliest stamps of Asia. It was made of red ceiling wax wafers and had an embossed design. These rare Indian postage stamps were circulated within the Sindh region and are highly sought-after by collectors all over the world. They bore the denomination half anna and only 100 such stamps exist today, making them highly desirable.

Queen Victoria stamp
Queen Victoria Stamp

The first stamps valid for postage throughout India were placed on sale in October 1854 with four values: 1/2 anna, 1 anna, 2 annas, and 4 annas, featuring a youthful profile of Queen Victoria.

George V
George V Stamp

In the early 20th century a new series depicting King Edward VII generally reused the frames of the Victoria stamps then King George V made a lot of changes to the stamp. However, in 1906, the set of King Edward VII stamps were issued in two values, half anna and one anna with the caption “INDIA POSTAGE & REVENUE”.

2. First Stamps of Independent India

Independence stamp

The First Stamp of Independent India was issued on the 21st of November, 1947. It depicts the Indian Flag with the patriots’ slogan, Jai Hind (Long Live India), on the top right-hand corner. It was valued at three and one-half annas. However, these Indian stamps were used for international correspondence. The second postage stamp of India depicted the Ashokan Lion Capital. It bore the denomination 1 and a half annas and was released for domestic mails.

3. Remembering Gandhi

Gandhi stamp

This stamp was issued on 15th August 1948, to acknowledge Gandhi’s contribution in the Indian struggle for independence. Over 100 other nations also produced Gandhi stamps. No other world leader has been so prominently featured on stamps around the world.

4. Air India’s first international flight – 1948

Air India Postage stamp

Vintage stamp of air India’s first international flight, India, Asia was issued to commemorate the first flight from Bombay to London. The stamp shows a Lockheed Constellation L-749A Airplane with the legend AIR-INDIA INTERNATIONAL, FIRST FLIGHT, 8TH JUNE 1948, INDIA POSTAGE, 12 AS.

5. Inaugration of the Republic of India

Inauguration Jan 26 1950

Inauguration of the Republic of India celebrations with waving of Indian flags and trumpets (2 Annas) was issued by the Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department.

Inauguration stamp

While 3.5 annas stamp with a quill dipped into an inkpot with a number leaflets in background inscribed with Mahatma Gandhi’s prayer “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, Patit Pawan Sita Ram”.

Inauguration stamp

4 annas stamp had ear of grain set vertically in the center with an indigenous ploughshare placed diagonally behind a star-spangled background showed the importance of food grain production and honoring Indian farmers.

Inauguration stamp

A 12 annas stamp recognize the contribution of the “Spinning wheel” (Mahatma Gandhi’s pet project) in producing indigenous cloth which went a long way in bringing down the British Raj Economy and self-reliance in producing Khadi cloth to Indians.

6. First Asian Games

First asian games

The first Asian Games were held in New Delhi from 8 to 11 March 1951, when ten nations took part. These multi-sport Games have since 1954 been held at four-yearly intervals. India released two stamps to mark the first Asian Games.

7. Conquering Everest

Conquering Everest

The first ascent of Mount Everest by a British expedition on May 29, 1953, was celebrated around the world. India issued postage stamps in 1953 using photographs of the mountain taken by the Indian Air Force.

8. 100 years of Indian Railways

100 years of Indian Railways

In 1953, when the Railway in India completed a century of commercial operations, the newly constituted Indian Railways celebrated the milestone by issuing a postal stamp. The stamp shows locomotive ‘Express’ on the left and a ‘WP’ loco on the right.

9. 100 years of Indian Post

100 years of Indian Post

The postage stamp that shows a courier pigeon and a plane was issued on October 1, 1954, to mark 100 years of the Indian postal service.

10. Olympic Games

Olympic Games

The Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department celebrated India’s participation in the Olympic Games by issuing two special postage stamps of denomination 20 paise and Rs. 1.45 on the 10th of august 1972. The 20 paise stamp depicts a hockey player in action while the Rs. 1.45 stamp shows symbolically running, wrestling, shooting, and hockey playing with the figure 1972 in the background with the symbol of the Olympic Games in both stamps.

Over the years, India has issued numerous other interesting commemorative Indian stamps to celebrate important events, achievements, or to honor important personalities. Some of these stamps are for 100 years of Post Card, Vande Mataram, Budhha Jayanti, Children’s day, All India Radio, Wildlife series, Family Planning, Wheat revolution, World against Malaria, Man on the Moon, and Raja Ravi Varma.

Suggested Read: Rare and Old Vintage Photos of India

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.