Few countries evoke feelings of remoteness and otherworldliness than Nepal. Old stamp albums sometimes included their stamps under the Indian States although this classification hides a complex history.
The British East India Company annexed minor states bordering Nepal thus triggering the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1815–16. At first the British underestimated the Nepalese and were soundly defeated and although they were eventually victorious the British were greatly impressed by the valour and competence of their adversaries. The war ended in the Sugauli Treaty, under which Nepal ceded recently captured portions of Sikkim and lands in Terai as well as the right to recruit soldiers.
In fact the British Army and Nepalese Gurkha soldiers found each other such potent foes that it forged a mutual respect between them unmatched in the annals of modern armies with links that still survive to this day.
It is likely that the first Nepalese stamps were issued on 14 April 1881, the Nepalese New Year, although the earliest known use is on a cover dated 5 May. It is believed that they were printed at the Chhapakhana Press, Thapathai, Kathmandu.
The basic design features the Crown of Nepal and a crossed pair of “Khukris” (short swords or knives used by Gurkha soldiers, who still carry them) and are inscribed “Shr Gorkha” at top and “Sarkar” at base, meaning “Government of Nepal”
The printing clichés were used continuously from 1881 to 1907, then again between 1917 and 1930, an incredible 50 year span without making replacement clichés or new plates!
As repairs and cleaning took place clichés were removed and moved, often causing inverted cliché errors or the transfer of a stamp from one part of the plate to another. Each time this occurred a new setting was created, a boon for the specialist collector! Over time, as the stamps became worn, and shades and papers changed Nepalese classics have become a wonderful antidote to modern issues!
Please take a look at our Nepalese lots, all identified by an advanced Nepalese philatelist. We think you will find them a fascinating subject!
Like collectors in this subject we are indebted to the work carried out by Wolfgang Hellrigl and Frank Vignola in their book “The Classic Stamps of Nepal” published by the Nepal and Tibet Study Circle.