Thursday, July 25, 2024

In Chennai, philatelist releases a book on colonial-era stamps and their evolution

Stamps from the princely state of Orchha

Stamps from the princely state of Orchha
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“Stamps are the windows to the world,” says Rolands Nelson, philatelist and retired civil engineer. When asked how many stamps he has in his collection, he approximates the number to be around a lakh. Nelson’s book, Princely States of India: a Philatelic Overview, was launched recently. The event was conducted in the Anna Centenary Library, Karapakkam, and was attended by several stamp enthusiasts across the city. Philately is the study of stamps and there is a great following for it across the country.

Rolands Nelson at the launch of his book at Anna Centenary Library.

Rolands Nelson at the launch of his book at Anna Centenary Library.
| Photo Credit:
R Ravindran

Nelson’s book details the evolution and history of stamps in India’s princely states. Stamps were brought to the subcontinent by the British, who were the first ones to print them. Through the book, the author aims to create an interest among young people. He has been writing Princely States of India for around a year, but also spent a decade researching.

The author is the vice-president of the South India Philatelists’ Association (SIPA) and has been collecting stamps since 1958. “I used to study in Madurai, and my friend would stand in line at the post station in Madras to buy and send stamps to me,” he recollects fondly.

Prints of Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II  on stamps.

Prints of Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II on stamps.
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

“The rulers wanted to show the world what they had in the states,” says Nelson, speaking of the stamps of princely India. The stamps would display their ruler’s faces or monuments — this is has lasted to this day. He hopes his book will be useful to aspiring philatelists, and plans to work on more publications in the future.

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