A Pre-Independence Elephant Stamp-Notice the word Bharat is missing.
It is true that many of us have the habit of collecting junk, but then what if that junk turns out to be Gold? Of course I am joking! Stamp collecting is not equivalent to collecting junk. It is a hobby that is most fulfilling,j in terms of widening the hobbyist’s social circle, it also makes the hobbyist an expert in his field, it brings about acclaim, recognition and makes him or her better informed about the world.
The best way for schools to promote Philately as a hobby is to set up a Philately Club in the school. Some of the activities organised by the school Philately club could include Philatelic Exhibitions, Participating in the regional Philatelic Exhibitions organised by the Philatelic Society of India, Department of Posts, DENPEX, District Level Philatelic Exhibitions, a visit to the Philately Section at the Post Office at Sansad Marg New Delhi, a visit to the National Philatelic Museum of India in New Delhi which exhibits stamps, first day covers, beautiful Victorian Postal collection boxes and other such postal paraphernalia.. Students who are interested in building up a stamp collection can open a Philately P.D.Account at the Post office in Sansad Marg, New Delhi, and they can book stamps, contact sheets,First Day Covers and other postal stationary, which would be sent to their postal addresses. The amount for the same would be deducted from the amount deposited by them. Recently when I visited the Post office at Sansad Marg, well after lunch time, that too on a Saturday, the people at the counters were gracious enough to accommodate my request to be allowed to make a deposit in my Philately account!
In this Stamp, the word Bharat in Hindi precedes the word India indicating that it is a Post-Independence Issue.
But then, Stamp Collecting is not just about collecting rare stamps, although, that may be one of the many reasons. When I started collecting stamps at the age of nine years, it was because they were colourful, good to look at, and somehow seemed to carry some kind of Magic in them. Later as I grew up, I began to realise that some of the stamps I had were unique, and had a distinct history behind them- my collection grew.In 2008, I came across members of the Philatelic department of the Department of Posts, Sansad Marg, and they encouraged me to open an account with them, and I did, and learned more about stamps and and first day covers, and one of the philatelists I came across was Mr. Pulak Gupta, and he told me much more about philately. A few years later, people who knew that I was an avid collector of stamps gladly handed over their stamps which would otherwise have been consigned to the dust bin! What had begun as an interest in colourful stamps has now become an active pastime and now besides having lots of colourful stamps, I have many that are really rare! What makes stamps rare depends on many factors, miss-prints, dropping numbers of a particular issue, commemorative stamps that are few in number, the age of the stamp, antiquity,and stamps issued at the end of a regime. From a collector of colourful stamps, I am now a proud collector of stamps of all kinds!
An Indian Stamp dated 1969
A few words about the History of the postal system in India is a must before ending this article! The Indian Post Office was set up in 1837 and Asia’s first adhesive postal stamp, the Scinde Dawke was introduced in 1857 by Sir Bartle Frere, the British East India Company’s Administrator of the Sind Province. In those days there was a parallel postal system where the different principalities had their own postal systems, but for post that was to be sent out of the country, you had to depend on the Imperial post! The East India company took up the responsibility of improving the postal system throughout the country.The Post Office Act XVII of 1837 provided that the Governor-General of India in Council had the exclusive right of conveying letters by post for hire within the territories of the East India Company. Yet another postal act was passed in 1866 to make improvement in the system. This included revision of rates, the setting up of new rates for the steamer routes, and revised rates for inland mail. Today the postal system has undergone a sea change. Gone are the days when each letter came with a set of colourful stamps that drew your attention. Today, the entry of the courier services into the market, and the popularity of the franking machine has meant that you probably will hardly see any stamps being pasted on envelopes. The only stamps you’d probably see are the ones you would get at the philately counters in post offices across the country. The recent phasing out of the telegram service in the country has marked the end of an era! The changes brought in by change in technology-the advent of internet and the E-Mail has somehow spelled doom for postal services all over the world. All this has made the hobby of stamp collecting all the more dear especially for those who have observed the changes across the centuries!
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