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At a time when the electronic medium has relegated the postal system to the back benches, when youngsters wonder about the utility of postage stamps, the philatelic exhibition titled ‘Property of a Gentleman, Stamps from the Nizam of Hyderabad’s Dominion’, organised at the Bikaner House in New Delhi between March 9 and 24, is a timely reminder of how postage stamps were an important part of everyday life.
Postage stamps played an essential role in a complex and vast communication network that spread across the world. From their original role as payments to help transfer messages, stamps were also used to facilitate revenue collection, taxation and served other fiscal purposes. Apart from their practical usage several states utilised stamps as a way of celebrating the material heritage and culture of the issuing region.
Presented by the Gujral Foundation and curated by Pramod Kumar KG, Managing Director of Eka Archiving, the exhibition presents rare stamps from the Ewari Collection, an iconic collection which dates back to Nawab Iqbal Hussain Khan, the Postmaster General under the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad.
The princely state of Hyderabad from southern India printed its own stamps from 1869 onward until it became a part of the Indian Union in 1949. The use of exquisite calligraphy, multifarious languages and architectural tropes demonstrate the far reaching influence of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad.
The objects on display at the ‘Property of a Gentleman, Stamps from the Nizam of Hyderabad’s Dominion’ include rare examples of original postage stamps from Hyderabad ranging from individual stamps to entire stamp sheets, as well as valuable and related ephemera such as original letters, postcards, revenue stamps of the region, erroneous stamps, seals and monograms.
While King George VI India Postage stamps were issued during the British Rule in India, those from Hyderabad were unique because they featured the value of the stamp in four different languages --Marathi, Telugu, English and Persian and later in Urdu.
Particular highlights in the exhibition include the first stamp issued by the Nizam’s government in Hyderabad; a wide range of postage stamps that evolved over a period of time in different colours, values, inscriptions and sizes; stamps featuring monuments from across the Nizam’s dominion as well as the last stamp issued by the princely state of Hyderabad.
Other displays will include the extraordinary Penny Black (the first adhesive postage stamp in the world), and a remarkable King George VI series of Indian postage stamps depicting different modes of transportation used to deliver mail. The collection also includes exceptional stamps issued in Hyderabad to commemorate the victory of the Allied Powers in the Second World War.
According to the curator, "The Ewari family philately collection has a deep personal connect with Hyderabad. The genesis of the collection begins with the legacy of their grandfather, Nawab Iqbal Hussain Khan, the Post Master General in the government of the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan. The Collection today consists of more than three million stamps and includes unusual and representative pieces from across the former Indian princely states."
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