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Ornamental Use of 1948 Mahatma Gandhi Stamps

Hundred of stamps from more than one hundred Countries, have been issued on Mahatma Gandhi till date. But the four stamps issued on Gandhiji on 15th August 1948, have an aura of its own. These four stamps were issued to commemorate the first anniversary of India’s Independence in four denominations viz. 1½ Anna, 3½ Annas, 12 Annas and Rupees 10/- vide postal notice no. 32 dated 7th August 1948. Actually these stamps were mourning stamps to mourn the death of Gandhiji which happened on 30th January 1948.

Initially these stamps were meant for sale up to 3 months only from the date of issue. But sale of these stamps was extended till 31st December 1948 vide Postal Notice No. 50 dated 11th November 1948. These Gandhi Stamps were withdrawn from sale on 1st January 1949. It means that the remaining stock of these Gandhi Stamps was never sold after 31st December 1948. But the use of these Gandhi Stamps continued, in the hands of Philatelists and continued till date.

The Decimal System of coinage in India was introduced on and from 1st April 1957. Consequently, the P & T Department fixed the postal rates in Naye Paise and introduced its conversion rate in between Anna value and Naye Paise. But the accounting problem of conversion was so great that the odd anna value (means that a value, not divisible by 4) stamps and postal stationery were demonetised on and from 1st October 1959 vide Postal Notice No. 23 of DGPT dated 28th August 1959.

Thus the 1½ Anna and 3½ Annas Gandhi Stamps were also demonetised on 1st October 1959, but 12 Annas and Rs. 10/- Gandhi stamps are still valid as postage stamps, and can be used for payment of postage.

The odd anna value stamps were valid for exchange at Post Offices for decimal denomination stamps; till 30th November 1959.

From 8th December, 1959, these odd anna value postage stamps were treated as Service Stamps, without any overprint on them. But odd anna value Gandhi stamps of 1948 are not found used as SERVICE Stamps till date!

The liking and/or interest in odd anna value of Gandhi Stamps never died. Therefore, we still find 1½ Anna and 3½ Annas stamps used on covers; not as postage stamps but as an ornament. That is why; I call them an ornamental use of Gandhi Stamps. A few examples are as under.

Ornamental use of 1948 Gandhi One and half anna stamp on US Cover
The first example of 1½ Annas Gandhi Stamp as ornamental use is found on
a first day cover of Gandhi Stamps issued by USA on 26th January 1961.
Ornamental use of 1948 Gandhi Stamp in 1962
This appears to be the earliest known example of Ornamental use of 1½ Annas Gandhi Stamp in India.
Ornamental use of 1948 Gandhi Stamps on 1968 Cover
1½ Anna, 3½ Annas and 12 Annas Gandhi Stamps with 20 P. Azad Hind Govt.  Stamp on First Day Cover with
First Day Cancellation of Calcutta G.P.O., dated 21 Oct 1968 with a combination of 20 P. Gandhi Centenary
Stamp and Cancellation dated 2 Oct. 1969.

Even Rs. 10/- Gandhi stamp is used as an ornament – an expensive ornament. Gandhi Rs. 10/- of 1948 is used even after 50 years as Rs. 10/- only, when the market value of the same is in five figures. To use 12 Annas stamp is very difficult, because the officers of the India Post do not know that 12 Annas stamp is still valid for postal use.

Ornamental use of Rs. 10 Gandhi Stamp of 1949 in 1998
Rs. 10 Gandhi Stamp of 1948 tied with Rs. 5 Gandhi Centenary Stamp on Speed Post Cover,
mailed on 15 Aug 1998 to mark 50 Years of India’s Independence.
Ornamental use of  1948, Rs. 10 Gandhi Stamp on 2013 Cover
Rs. 10 Gandhi Stamp of 1948 tied with Gandhi Stamps in denomination of Rs 8 on Speed Post Cover,
mailed on 15 Aug 2013 to mark India’s Independence. It appears to be a record for India that this
Rs. 10 Gandhi Stamp is used as a valid postage stamp after 65 years of issue.

It appears to me, that the ornamental use of 1½ Anna Gandhi Stamp will continue for many coming years, but the use of Rs. 10 Gandhi Stamp will be more scarce because of its rising price.

Courtesy: Ashok Kumar Bayanwala, Ahmedabad

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