My name is Wahid Zia. I am collecting stamps since the last 37 years (1980). I created a blog which includes the information of Pakistan all stamps. W/W new issues & all issues of Pakistan from 1947 to date are available on this blog. I invite you to visit my blog and get useful information.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pakistan – A Heaven for Collectors

By: S.M. Masud

In Pakistan Philately is still regarded as junvenile past time and it could not attain its due status on account of absence of proper patronage and attention. Conversely in the Western World Philately is no more regarded as a mere hobby but is considered as a science. Technical aspects of studies embrance lot of intensive study and it is thriving on the love for knowledge and wisdom. It is true that wealthy people and tycoons have an edge over the common collectors belonging to the lower and middle classes due to their wealth, but I still feet that philatelists from the lower income groups can with little articulation defeat the hegemony of those cheque book collectors.

One way is that you can concentrate on a single issue or even one little stamp. There are number of great collectors who devoted a life time to one stamp only. Numerous superstars of philately were “single stamp” devotees. The great collector, namely Edward L. Willard was only collecting a two cent re-brown of United States, of 1882 to 1887. He wrote two volume books on the same subject titled “United States Two cent red brown of 1883 to 1887”. In Pakistan Col. Martin is known for his collection of Pakistan overprinted on Indian stamps. There are some other collectors who have exerted on just one subject. I feel that even now a collector can make new approaches to the above subjects but there are other issues in which lot of work can be done. I am particularly impressed with tissues showing Mausoleum of Ibrahim Khan Malik on S.G. 475 to 480. these stamps have all kinds of EFO’s Imperforate, gummed side prints, paper folds, mis-perforations, set off, dry prints, partially colour omitted stamps, inverted watermarks and even inverted “service” printed stamps. One can look out for Arabic gummed and P.V.A. gummed oddities also. Postal forgeries are also available of these stamps. This can provide large sphere to any new collector who has little means with him. There are other subjects also in which one concentrate. Last year at the time to Pak-Philex 1993 Capt. (now Major) Nasir, a collector from Quetta, offered for sale a collection of “Forts” series S.G. 629 to 636 which had different yearly plate markings with and without imprints blocks and wide range of colour shads. It was available at a very modest price. Presently many collectors are working on those lines and have plenty of scope. The study of plate corrections made on S.G. 131, 132 and 134 Shalimar Gardens stamps correcting “SH” to “P” is the need of the time including its “Service” overprints. Philately has two branches, one is “stamp collecting” and the other is “postal history”. A person cannot be regarded as a philatelist if he has no interest in the branch of postal history. If you look out the results of various philatelic exhibitions held in Pakistan, my opinion is fortified that the exhibits of postal history have lead the field by attracting more crowds and winning more medals. Postal history is generally considered the study of the origin and development of postal services and all aspects pertaining to them. Different branches of postal history now have their own specialized societies including air-mail, traveling post offices and even mail boxes. But the term is now loosely applied to collectable materials, such postmark, postal stationery, stamp covers and cards. You can include the history of your country which is depicted on stamps and special postmarks in this field. This is a sphere which is still barren and wide open for every one. There is lot of challenges to the philatelist of our country.

Pakistan offers lot of opportunities to a thematic collector. It is rich in the ancient history as well as in turbulent events of our recent past. After all we are the pioneers of cotton cloth which we introduced to the world civilization. In the matter of urban living, we have excelled in the organized society. Indus Valley Civilization is reflected on S.G. 188, 318, 342, 402, to 406, 414, 430, 439, 666, & 667. Though only so far remains of Moenjodaro have been shown but there are other avenues for a thematic collector. You can even make collection on the subject of common heritage. R.C.D. commemorative stamps offer lot of such opportunities. Even common stamps issued by SAARC countries are a nice subject.

There are number of sidelines of Pakistan Philately. The gutter pair of multiple gutter blocks of first over print stamps is extremely popular and quiet expensive. Imprint and year of printing blocks especially of UN issued stamps like Faisal Mosque are rare items to be added to one’s collection. I have not seen any collection of traffic lights. In India such items are even mentioned and included in the catalogues. There are numerous designs and patterns of these marks. However a fantastic study can be made of special marks on the margins on the sheets. Not only plate numbers are mentioned but I have noticed some of the following features.

i) Position of plate mentioning “Top” is printed on different sides of the margin of the sheet

ii) Different dates on the side margins.

iii) Print lines in different colours.

iv) Inscription like “Positive for” four plater” in regular issues.

v) Inscription “New layout for Rs.4” with date 7-4-97 and plate number “2”. I have not seen other plate numbers in this new layout (S.G. 777)

vi) Different kind of gutter pairs with different designs on them.

These are just few suggestion otherwise there are innumerable opportunities in the side lines Number of postal stationery items have also been issued by Pakistan Postal Department which can make a nice study. One can even build a collection of greeting cards issued by postal Department.

Many opportunities are available to a collector of a national history which can be examined just in one case, like our first commemorative issue. Pakistan’s date of Independence has been has been a controversial matter. Indian Independence Act, 1947 fixed 15th August, 1947 as a day on which two independent states Pakistan and India were to come into existence. Defacto Pakistan became independent on that date. It was Friday. Many people would be remembering it from their living memory. In the speeches of Quaid-e-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan the same date is mentioned. Pakistan issued its first commemorative stamps showing Pakistan’s date of Independence as 15th August, 1947, (S.G. 20 to 23) in 1948. A beautiful folder was also issued which is very scarce and a prestigious collectable item. The same date is mentioned thereon. We celebrated our second day of Independence on 15th August 1948. It was national holiday. Pakistan issued its first definitive set in August, 1948. Stanley Gibbons have mentioned 14th August although with a sign of interrogation but postal historian must check up his first day covers. If they bear 14th August, 1948 with Pakistan Day postmarks, surely these would be forgeries. See date of issue in Gibbon’s catalogue. The same mistake may have been carried on elsewhere also. Government changed our date of Independence to 14th August much after as it thought that we became de-jure independent on 14th August, 1947. This controversy about date of Independence is still going on in the national press. You may notice that all the buildings shown on our first issue are from West Pakistan, Constituent Assembly Building, Karachi, Karachi Airport entrance, Gateway to Lahore Fort (S.G. 20 to 22). Even one Rupee scarlet stamp (S.G. 23) was designed by a renowned Pakistani artist – Abdur Rehman Chughtai who also belonged to West Pakistan. Was it done intentionally or happened by chance that only one stamp depicting a building from East Pakistan was shown on our stamps till 1954? By that time seeds of separatism had been sown deeply in our society. We are now left to collect these stamps and covers as part of our history showing, our joint past with Bangla Desh.

Pakistan’s philately offers to collectors a variety of choices. You can form collection of stamps from all issues from the earliest over-printed stamps to the recent issues and find number of interesting items. The stamps which have been issued on the occasion of E.C.O Foreign Ministers Conference have lot of new varieties. Apart from the partially colour omissions on the kite shaped pentagular patterns appearing in different colours on these stamps, I have acquired a very unusual variety which is in the third row of sheet that instead of one pentagular pattern in blue and other. Green in the centre, both are printed in green which kind of variety has not been noticed in the past. In my collection of EFO’s I have gathered number of varieties like miscuts, colour shades, etc. of Sher Shah Suri commemoratives miniature sheets which five a spectacular look of these beauties.

The postal marking provide a life long challenge from start of Independence to to-date but I have yet to see a cover hearing the Independence Day cancellation. May be some lucky collector has the same in his treasure. However, there are postmarks which are available of the last day when Pakistan decided to convert itself into a Republic. I obtained some covers from the then Post Master in the Governor General House Post Office showing 22nd March, 1956, the last day of the Dominion and of the first day when Pakistan became Republic on 23rd March, 1956 with President House Post Office Postmarks. These covers I disposed of when I left philately in 1958 and am now in possession of a well-known philatelist of Lahore Mr. Anwar-ul-Haq. Such kinds of covers which depict the history of a country have numerous opportunities in Pakistan. Now even covers of East Pakistan will be relics to collect. The covers of cities which changed their names like Lyallpur to Faisalabad may be a treasure. Similarly, earlier Montgomery covers and change to Sahiwal, all opens new opportunities, showing our internal administrative changes and making a new history.

I have noticed that many new stamps are coming up which are not catalogued and still offer a lot of opportunities to collectors of our country. I sent in 1957 number of thick and thin paper stamps from Thomas De La Tue printings to Stanley Gibbons who took note of them but never included in their catalogue. The artistic stamp issued in 1976 on the birth centenary of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (S.G. 436) is like a fantasy. It is also available in thick and thin paper varieties. There are numerous stamps which have not been catalogued and search continues for them. Postal markings also provide a challenge to anyone. Slogan cancels, First flight covers, Postal Stationery, Premium charge catchet all provide collectable items. Special Post Offices have always been opened at the time of Royal visits and official Guest’s tour to Pakistan. Special cancellations are provided in these post offices. Some of the markings are extremely difficult to obtain but they provide fascinating materials. I saw a photocopy of the first page of Mr. Shahid Zaki’s collection. A drawing of map of Pakistan with “Pakistan Zinda Bad” slogan postmark made it a remarkable combination. Think of starting your collection with better or improved design”

Considerable information on Pakistan stamps is now available to the collectors. Apart from the specialized studies which are coming up with the new issues. This is making more information available to the collectors but still a specialized catalogue is the need of time. It is hoped that some one will share the burden soon. Don’t forget that first issue of Scinde Dawk of 1852 was issued in area which now forms part of Pakistan. Indian Postal authorities have recently issued facsimiles of those stamps and we have not. Can’t our Postal authorities reclaim them if not Kho-i-Noor?