The First Stamps of Pakistan

Posted on February 5, 2010
Filed Under >Bilal Zuberi, Culture & Heritage, History
76 Comments
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Bilal Zuberi

Somewhere around class 6 I realized that I needed to have a hobby?

Playing cricket on the streets or reading Ishtiaq Ahmad novels were not considered real ‘hobbies’ in my peer group. Popular hobbies were: stamp collecting, coin collecting, paper plane making, collecting dinkie cars, or drawing transformers in your school notebooks.

Well, I chose stamp collecting to be my hobby for two simple reasons: (a) an aunt gave me a stamp collecting book as a birthday present, and (b) I realized I could start a collection right away by simply going through letters mailed to my family over the past few years.

I was a hobbyist for a long time. I collected hundreds of stamps and even learnt how to trade them with friends and pen-pals. Some of my favorite stamps came from the United States and Nicaragua. Some of the most boring were from the Middle East. But anyways, I wanted to write today about the early stamps of Pakistan. I will follow up with a post on the early currency notes from Pakistan, which happened to be my brother’s hobby.

Pakistan started its journey on the 14th of August 1947. However, there was plenty of other things to worry about in managing a nascent independent country than its official stamps. So the first stamps of Pakistan were actually British Indian stamps overprinted with the word “Pakistan”. Shown here are the pictures of the 1 Ana and 6 Ana stamps. Would these qualify as Pakistan’s first stamps?

But this was not the only international aspect of the first stamps in Pakistan. According to Takashi’s essay:

When the British India was partitioned into India and Pakistan on August 1947, British Indian post offices in Dubai and Muscat were inherited by Pakistan and managed by Karachi GPO. These Pakistani post offices were closed on 1 April 1948. This chronology implies that “PAKISTAN” overprinted stamps were used in Dubai and Muscat only for 6 months from 1 Oct 1947 to 31 March 1948.

It wasn’t until July 1948, that the first set of entirely Pakistani stamps were printed. Shown is the picture of the first 1 Rupee stamp of Pakistan. The stamp has a beautiful floral pattern with the chand and stitara motif, and an Urdu inscription reading Pakistan Zindabad, i.e. Long Live Pakistan. Some would call this the first official stamp of Pakistan.

ATP has provided rare glimpses into the history of the State of Bahawalpur (e.g. here), and when it comes to stamps, there is some unique history to be shared once again. From 1947 onwards, and up until 1949, the State of Bahawalpur issued it own stamps. Again from Takashi’s essay:

The photo on the [left] shows a set of four stamps issued in 1949. These stamps were beautifully engraved and shows industrial symbols of Bahawalpur: irrigation barrage, wheat, cotton, and local bullock. About 60 Bahawalpur stamps were issued and all of them are in high quality, reflecting the hobby of the state’s ruler (he himself was an enthusiastic philatelist).

The next big change in stamps occured in 1961 when the country moved to decimal currency system. Gone were the anas, and the paisas were in. Again there was a shortage of stamps and the new currency denomination was simply printed over the existing stamps. Interesting errors are found in the stamps from that era, and some of bloopers can be seen in the pictures below.

Since 1947, Pakistan has been printing stamps regularly, and according to one catalogue over 750 stamps were printed between 1947 and 1990. These stamps have been of various categories: service stamps (used by government agencies to mail material), regular stamps, and commemorative stamps.

In 1952, the Pakistan Postal Service issued an interesting commemorative stamp on the 100th anniversary of the oldest stamp in Asia. The original was called the “Scinde Dak” and was used in Karachi and surrounding regions in Sind. The centenar stamp was for 3 anas and shows the camel caravans that were used to carry the early mail.

I don’t get as much postal mail as I used to in the past. But still, on Eid and other occasions, when I get the cards mailed to me I still take long look at the stamps before opening the envelope. Some habits never die.

76 responses to “The First Stamps of Pakistan”

  1. shoaib says:

    I am looking to buy stamps and postally used covers.

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