The first stamps issued in India were the famed “Scinde Dawks”, authorised for use only in Sind Province by the British Commissioner. However, the first India stamps for use throughout the entire country were issued during October 1854. The 3 different values being the subject of careful study by generations of philatelists. In addition, the rarest India stamps include the 1854 4 anna with the blue head of Queen Victoria inverted within the red frame. Also, the 1948 10r Gandhi stamp with “Official” overprint, both important in world philately. Considered the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the British Empire, India enjoyed the work of De La Rues best designers and engravers until the mid 1920s. As a result, many outstanding stamps were printed plus many essays, trials and proofs are known.
The substantial governmental infrastructure also gave stamp collectors a wide range of official stamps overprinted or inscribed “Service”. In addition, in recent years the popularity of the large format Telegraph stamps have seen them listed by Stanley Gibbons alongside the postage issues. The postmarks and postal history of the various Indian Military expeditionary forces and Indian Post Offices abroad are popular with Indian stamps. They are often cancelled in the Persian Gulf, Middle East, Africa, Malaya, Nepal and Tibet being highly sought-after. The postal history of this huge country is highly regarded with collectors often choosing a specific area. This is often defined by the Railway Post Office routes to collect and study.