A stamp of our country’s heritage

More than a hobby

Philatelist John Bosco Yeddanapally in Belagavi shows his collection. Photos by author

In a quaint by-lane in a suburb in Belagavi is the house of John Bosco Yeddanapally. Few know this advocate cum notary as a philatelist. At a function to release the special cover to commemorate the visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Belagavi as the president of the Congress session in 1924, I got acquainted with Yeddanapally and his interesting collection of stamps. 

His collection is a treasure trove of stamps painstakingly collected over almost five decades. What is noteworthy is his meticulous arrangement, thematic segregation, accurate labelling, filing and additional details with every collection. The highlights of his collection include stamps on the theme of the Indian Independence movement and on the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi. 

Everyone at the local philately club adores him for his collection and knowledge about stamps. Added to it, he is willing to share his knowledge and readily participates with his collection in various events. 

Originally from Nammiandal in Tiruvannamalai district, John earlier lived near Vellore in Tamil Nadu. John settled in Belagavi after his marriage to Jayashree who hailed from the district.

As a young boy, he once saw a cover depicting the Christian Medical College in Vellore and was amazed at how such landmarks were depicted on stamps. This impressed him so much that he started collecting stamps when he was in Class 5.

He came to Bengaluru in 1969. Back then he would collect stamps without giving much thought to it. He understood the importance of stamps much later. When he was in Singapore, he was in need of money and ended up selling some of his stamps. That was when he realised the value of stamps. John settled in Belagavi with his wife in 1991. He then bought philately books and systematically arranged his stamps.

John’s collection includes themes like women freedom fighters both from India and abroad, Indian Independence movement, flowers, animals, heritage, peace and human rights , a full series on Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, various types of fans across the world, Mahatma Gandhi, museums, temple architecture, defence, butterflies, Indian cuisine, festivals of India etc.

His collection also includes stamps having Indian themes issued by several countries such as Peru, Cuba, Israel, South Africa etc. These stamps depict India’s cordial relations with other countries.

The country’s famous personalities, national flag, national emblem, map of India, mythology, festivals, ancient civilisations, heritage sites and buildings, costumes, languages, music, painting, dances,
sports and many other aspects of Indian culture and tradition etc., can be found on the various stamps issued since Independence.

A strikingly beautiful collection is that of the stepwells in India such as Chaand Bawri, Panna Meena Ka Kund, Neemrana Bawri and Rani ki Vav. One can understand the significance of these stamps as only 16 sheets of this theme were issued and only 30,000 were printed by India Post. The thematic and commemorative stamps are printed only once and hence become collectibles.

Informative display

Apart from collecting stamps and filing them, he even compiles all the available information and displays them along with the stamps.

He also has a collection on the Railways including that of India’s earliest modes of railways drawn by bullocks and that of the latest metros, so one can find all the information on a particular theme at one place. As he has typed out accurate information about the theme briefly, anyone reading it understands the topic.

The India Post’s choice of themes and the superb artwork used for each stamp requires a special mention.

A series of stamps on the endangered birds of India issued on November 23, 1994, were withdrawn immediately after being released because they were printed using water-soluble ink which would dissolve the letters. John proudly shows such treasures.

Another delightful piece that he owns is an album which bears the court fee stamps from the erstwhile princely states. There are stamps of the Holkars, Marwar state, Gwalior state, Mudhol that stand testimony to the diligent judicial system of those times. He narrates several instances when he was fortunate to get his hands on rare stamps and the first day covers, as he visits the post office regularly.

John is willing to exhibit his collection at schools and colleges interested in this subject. One can contact him on whyseejb@rediffmail.com

Comments (+)