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Saturday, November 21, 2009

THE FIRST STAMP OF ASIA - SCINDE DAWK

In 1st July 1852 India became the first country in Asia and the 10th country in world to issue postage stamps, issued by the province of Scinde (a part of India under British rule), by Sir Bartle Frere, then the Governor of Scinde. The shape was circular, with SCINDE DISTRICT DAWK around the rim, leading the common name Scinde Dawk. This was intended to use Scinde province only. The colour of the first stamps were red, white and blue and the denomination was ½ anna. This was also among the first circular stamps of the world.
The history
Scinde was a province in Western India with an area of about 57000 square miles and a population of about 2,500,000. Since the 4th century, Scinde was under several rulers such as Alexander the Great, Chandragupta, Muhammad Khan, Akbar and Nadir Shah of Persia till the British came to on the scene in the 1830’s.
Sir Bartle Frere, son in law of John Arthur, the governor of Bombay, was assigned with task of bringing postal reforms to Scinde. The postal administration was directly under the control of Bombay Presidency. In 1850, there were four post offices in the provinces of scinde, - Sukkur, Shikarpur, Hyderabad and Karachi. The route between Karachi to Bombay had important stages ie. Thatha, Bhuj, Ahemedabad, each route was further divided into small stages ie. 7 to 8 miles apart. The mails from these places were carried to Bombay by runners called Kasids. The distance was covered these runners handling over the dak to the next runners covering the entire route by successive relays delivering the mail to Bombay. in about nine days time. They were basically the local tribals.
The stamp & Design Sir Bartle Frere with the help of Edward Coffey, the postmaster of Karachi, he designed the first postage, which ultimately came to known as the Scinde Dawk. The set comprised of three embossed stamps, round in shape, in white, red and blue.

The design of the Scinde Dawk was the same as the mark of East India Company, composed of '+' and 'P' a very ancient Christian sign, the first letter of the name of Christ in Greek. The mystic sign of 4 is found at the head of almost every marine merchant's mark. The design. more or less of the same pattern is also noticed , in the watermarks of the contemporary laid, wove and bond papers. There is no doubt however, that it was regarded as a holy sign. The shape of the embossed Scinde Dawk is circular. In set is a heart divided into three segments, each segment containing one of the letters EIC (East India Company) in the center, above the heart is then figure 4 with the central stroke vertically lengthened to form one of the partitions in the heart. At the bottom tip is written 1/2 anna. The entire design is enclosed in a circular belt, forming its border. The circular belt contains the inscriptions 'Scinde District Dawk' with the belt buckle at the lower center showing the holes for the buckle grip.
There is controversy about the original assignment of De LA Rue and Co of London as printers of the stamps, since the official records in India were destroyed and no authenticated comtemperary records exits in London.
The Scinde dawk stamps were first used on 1st July 1852 and were suppressed on 30th September 1854 and the remainder were ordered to be destroyed on October 1854.
After independence - India

This Stamp Issued during Asiana'77, First Asian International Philatelic Exhibition, Bangalore, India, depicting the scinde dawk. This is the only stamp issued after India's independence which commemorates the scinde dawk.
The real facts:- In 1952, the Department of Posts of India celebrated the centenary of the release of the postage stamp by holding an exhibition but neither made any mention of it on any of its postal stationery nor released a stamp depicting the Scinde Dawk, may be because Scinde now happens to be a part of Pakistan and also the political relation between two nations not well on that time.
On the other hand Pakistan in 14th August 1952 two stamps of the 3-anna and the 12-anna denominations and an attractive First Day Cover were issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Scinde District Dawk stamps, the first stamps issued in Asia in July 1852.

The design illustrates the original stamp with a string of camels and airplane added to symbolize progress in mail transport. The 3-anna stamp is chartreuse in colour, and the 12-anna stamp is light brown. These stamps were withdrawn from sale on 1st November 1953.