Charm of Used Stamps

Earlier this year India post released a set of 16 stamps as one miniature sheet on head gears of India. I did buy as part of my regular buys, but I wasn’t too kicked about the stamps. They were too colorful, too big, too pompous for my liking.
And then during my regular visits to the flea market where I rummage through heaps of paper to find used stamps, I managed to find 15 of the 16 stamps in their used version. Suddenly I am liking this set a lot. Perhaps it is the old world charm of used stamps that catches my fancy. It is the thrill of finding used setenent stamps and blocks and even singles that tell a story of usefulness of the stamp and its contribution to getting a message across for someone. My son once said that to him collecting stamps is as lame as collecting Pokemon cards. Well buying mint stamps from the comfort of my home sure feels like that. Collecting used stamps however is whole different game in my view. So much more fun and now a days even more challenging.

India’s Struggle for Freedom Series

When I restarted my hobby, I picked up the thread on my collection of stamps from India’s Struggle for Freedom series. I had originally posted about this in Jun 2016. Since then I have finally managed to complete this series. Technically it took me 34 years to complete this series, since I bought the first stamps from the post office when they were issued :-).

Different sources on the Internet provide varied information about this series on India’s Struggle for Freedom. One source talks about the series starting in 1983 with the ambition of issuing 4-6 stamps each year until 1997, marking the 50th year of India’s Independence.

The Philacent India catalog lists seven series from 1983 to 1989 with 44 stamps as India’s Struggle for Freedom series, with similar design of tricolor on the edges commemorating a freedom fighter personality. Post 1989, there have been a few stamps with tricolor being used in the stamp sometimes on the edge, sometimes in another way, but none like the design of tricolor on both edges. Also the catalog doesn’t list the other issues as part of the Struggle for Freedom series.

The official India Post website run by the Department of Posts (Ministry of Communication, Govt. of India) lists only the first three stamps in the series as INDIA’S STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. The other stamps are listed as commemorating specific personalities.

Here’s my exhibit for India’s Struggle for Freedom series.

Stamp on Stamp

I have been fascinated by the Stamp on Stamp theme. Not as much about collecting those stamps that have stamps represented on them, but collecting the pairs with original stamps and the stamps commemorating them. Kinda sounds confusing, all these stamps on stamps words. Here’s what I am talking about.

Technically the stamp on the left isn’t 1852 Britannia stamp that’s being commemorated in the stamp on the right. Its actually either 1860 or 1871 rough perforation one. But hey, for the purpose of collecting stamp-on-stamp theme, I think I’ll sneak this through 😉

In this one too, the classic India Four Anna is not the same as that shown in the Philately Day stamp on the right. What the right stamp (minisheet) has is an error variety of the classic Four Anna stamp. I guess this will do for my collection, given the rarity of the error variety.

Gutter Pairs

I had written about traffic lights stamps some time back. While I have been collecting those for a while, what’s really fascinated me are gutter pairs. According to Wikipedia:

The philatelic ue of the word gutter is the space left between postage stamps which allows them to be separated or perforated. When stamps are printed on large sheets of paper that will be guillotined into smaller sheets along the gutter it will not exist on the finished sheet of stamps. Some sheets are specifically designed where two panes of stamps are separated by a gutter still in the finished sheet and gutters may, or may not, have some printing in the gutter. Since perforation of a particular width of stamps is normal, the gutter between the stamps is often the same size as the postage stamp.

I have always wanted to have gutter pairs in my collection when I was young. Finally I acquired my first gutter pair only recently when I restarted my hobby.

And more recently acquired gutter pairs of these beautiful 1980 Great Britain commemorative stamps.

Maybe some day I’ll get gutter block also in my collection.

My next goal is to acquire Tête-bêche. More about that when I get those in my collection.

Aero India 2003

There are some stamps that you instantly fall in love with. A dealer showed me this miniature sheet saying it was one of the relatively rare modern sheets. I had no idea since my collection of India was limited to pre-1990. He offered me this at Rs. 800 (catalog value Rs. 1000). Out of curiosity I checked eBay and found it selling at Rs. 400. I ordered it immediately. If I hadn’t found it on eBay, I probably would have paid whatever the dealer was asking for this beautiful miniature sheet.

India Struggle for Freedom Series (1983 – 89)

India Struggle for Freedom series: Seven series of 44 stamps issued from 1983 to 1989. The stamps were designed within National Tricolor vertical border. I am missing quite a few stamps from my collection, including all of series 7 that I hope to complete over next few months.

Date of Issue
India’s Struggle for Freedom – 1st Series – 1983
09 August 1983
09 August 1983
09 August 1983
18 October 1983
15 November 1983
28 December 1983
India’s Struggle for Freedom – 2nd Series – 1984
21 February 1984
23 April 1984
10 May 1984
10 May 1984
10 May 1984
10 May 1984
India’s Struggle for Freedom – 3rd Series – 1985
10 January 1985
21 July 1985
22 July 1985
02 December 1985
23 December 1985
24 December 1985
India’s Struggle for Freedom – 4th Series – 1986
14 August 1986
26 December 1986
29 December 1986
30 December 1986
India’s Struggle for Freedom – 5th Series – 1987
13 February 1987
18 March 1987
21 March 1987
25 April 1987
17 June 1987
22 August 1987
31 December 1987
India’s Struggle for Freedom – 6th Series – 1988
02 February 1988
04 February 1988
27 February 1988
07 March 1988
18 June 1988
19 June 1988
28 June 1988
06 September 1988
06 October 1988
05 December 1988
India’s Struggle for Freedom – 7th Series – 1989
02 January 1989
08 March 1989
13 April 1989
13 April 1989
11 May 1989

‘My Stamp’ from Govt. of India

After recently restarting my philately hobby I discovered that the govt has introduced the concept of ‘My Stamp’. Personally I don’t feel very enthused by the fact that anyone can get a stamp printed on anyone or anything. It takes formal postal stationery commercialization to another level which doesn’t gel with my idea of philately.

The Dept of Posts website,, explains My Stamp as

‘My Stamp’ is the brand name for personalized sheets of Postage Stamps of India Post. The personalization is achieved by printing a thumb nail photograph of the customer images and logos of institutions, or images of artwork, heritage buildings, famous tourist places, historical cities, wildlife, other animals and birds etc., alongside the selected Commemorative Postage Stamp. 

‘My Stamp’ was first introduced in India during the World Philatelic Exhibition, ‘INDIPEX-2011’. There was considerable demand for it during the exhibition and many requests to resume its printing have since been received. This enthusiasm from stamp lovers prompted India Post to extend the ‘My Stamp’ scheme to cover all Postal Circles. This scheme is available in selected Philatelic Bureaux and counters /Important Post offices/Post Offices situated at tourist places. Selected themes are available at selected My Stamp Counters.

I asked for thoughts from experienced philatelists about what they feel about it. Would you collect these stamps? Are these considered proper stamps or do they come under the category of Cinderella stamps?

Peter Leevers, Secretary at The India Study Circle for Philately, writes

Commercialisation of postal stationery has been around for over a century and gives the collector insight into social issues and fashions. What’s really changed the game, in my view, is the ease by which modern digital printing methods make litho colour so cheap. Design for the old methods of intaglio, embossing and letterpress (typo. In the catalog) needed careful preparation. But stamps were produced with, quite literally, a depth that, by its very nature, offset litho never can.

19 Jun 2016 update: Ravinder Kumar commented:

My stamp is purely a commercial venture to make more money for the postal department.
When I went to a PO at Chennai the clerk said that they have some cricket stickers for sale. She showed me the sheet of New Zealand cricket stamps. Honestly she never knew they were stamps. All so called reputed commonwealth nations have also started commercialising their philately by printing in bulk and offering it at much below postal value! Will Australia or New Zealand sell their $1 or other currencies to other governments for 40 cents or 50 cents? But the stamps with denomination of upto $2 are just printed in quantities in sheets like children’s stickers sold in a stationery shop and sold to ‘Big’ reputed dealers and governments to fool and slay the ‘ innocent goat( the novice collector who buys these excessively printed stamps at lower than their postal value from dealers and think that they had a deal by buying it).
Is it possible for the collectors who had spent a few Lakhs in st. Vincent and other islets exotically called manamagua etc who have printed Diana, cricketers, sports cars in quantities to even recover their hard earned money after even 10 years?
Unfortunately many philatelists in India and rest of the world are being taken for a costly ride by Stamp Printers and Big Stamp Dealers and their distributors and retail dealers throughout the world !
😢 come when we think about these innocent philatelic Goats!🐐🐐🐐

Buying Stamps Online

Bought stamps after many many years, my first from eBay. I remember going to the Sunday flee market at Daryaganj New Delhi and rummaging through sacks trying to find something I liked. Now I rummaged through eBay listings. I actually participated in an auction for these stamps and won it. Not sure if I actually ended up paying a higher than expected price but it was a worthwhile first experience on online auction on eBay.