Philately at its finest

PAPER AMBASSADORS

Often when a red van of India Post has ambled past, one has wondered if this public department still enjoys flourishing business. When it comes to letters, they definitely have found quicker alternates like emails but stamps still evoke nostalgia and a lot of interest.

This was corroborated when one visited the Stamps Of India National Exhibition (SINE) where careful documentation of rare stamps of historical value was done and drew a lot of philatelists from India and abroad.
  
Unlike any other legal or important government document, stamps are treated differently, so much so that while the former gets trashed in the case of a printing error, the latter is priced much higher if it carries a mistake. “Often, when there is a printing mistake in an official document, its value depreciates but in case of a postal stamp, its value increases,” explai­ned A V Jayachandran, an exhibitor from Puducherry who showed some marvellous examples of printing errors.

For instance, stamps relea­s­ed during 2004 Olympic games do not have the official logo of the games on them! The logo disappeared sometime during printing and the misprinted stamps were released in the market, which turned out to be a boon for the collectors.

“If the price of one correct stamp is between Rs 30-60, the price of a similar but misprinted one will be between Rs 3-6 lakh.” No mean price to pay for an error!
The exhibition which was held at NDMC Convention Centre, also showcased rare stamps on Mother Teresa, sports and even Bollywood.

A Rajinikanth postcard was priced at Rs 100 while a Mohd. Rafi disk stamp was selling for a cool Rs 200.

For Bollywood lovers, there was enough to explore,  with stamps on yesteryear singers such as Kishore Kumar and Mukesh to legen­d­ary heroines of India such as Meena Kumari and Nutan, all placed distinctly in black and white and sometime in colour too. Added to these were the Hollywood star themed stamps and even Walt Disney stamps.

The philatelists-turned-businessmen exhibited their collections from various parts of India and the world. Especially those stamps which were released on special occasions. These turned out to be a major attraction but what kept the investors busy was the hunt for rare ones.

Abhay Tiku, a philatelist and a stamp investor found a sheet of stamps on Satunjaya Temple situated in Palitana, Gujarat.

“Post-Independence stamps, especially the ones on Mahatma Gandhi are a huge attraction among collectors,” shared Abhay while bargaining for a stamp sheet priced at Rs 2 lakh!

Among stamps from the overseas, the visitors had a field day looking at collecti­o­ns from America to Japan, including the European Union. Two vibrant miniature sheets of first stamps of Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) after its independence in 1948 and priced at seven pounds each were also on sale.

Since Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait has been printed on stamps by various countries, there was lots to choose from. However, even within the Gandhi collection there were a few – such as the sepia-toned Gandhi stamp released in 1948 to commemorate his death which are highly coveted.

Available for a mere Rs 10 back then, they are now being sold for nothing less than
Rs 30000!

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