Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jodhpur Government Gazette - July 14, 1945

Today's post will be another short one. As I scan most of literature stuff that I bought over couple of months I am sharing it here. With this post another thread starts - Princely States Gazettes covering war related news or articles.

Under British arrangement, most of princely states were granted permission to maintain law and order and run general affairs of their area on their own. As part of that most of princely states used to publish what is called state gazettes for general public consumption. It was kind of information sharing by the government to the people. The gazette not only served the purpose of publishing government policies, announcements and news but it also gave them control to restrict/censor the information to be distributed especially during war period. Even though , Radio/newspaper were available but very few people in India in those days could afford it. The gazettes also served as state propaganda at times encouraging people to donate to war funds, providing both true and fabricated news of Allies win and publishing advertisements to join allied forces.

Shown above is a page from Jodhpur Government Gazette published on July 14, 1945. Since, it is already in English I thought I won't need to explain it but later I realized that it would be almost impossible to read it because of spacing problem in blog. So here it is:

British "Recce" Party in Germany

"The gazette shows a picture taken by a British Army photographer who accompanied a British patrol on a reconnaissance in Germany, shows members of the patrol approaching their objective. British troops on this front and in the Ardennes were issued with white camouflage cloaks. Guns, rifles and radios are all wrapped in white, with the good effort seen."

The uniqueness of this gazette is that it carries a photograph cyclostyled. Very few gazettes carried photographs as most of these gazettes were typed.

Even though the description on gazette doesn't mention explicitly but the troops here are of Indian origin or part of Indian regiments. There are couple of reasons to believe that. I have another such document where similar photographs are shown addressing them as Indian soldiers besides the photograph and statement is conveying the message that British Government has taken all precautions to ensure safety of soldiers by providing white camouflage, allaying concerns of families of soldiers and encouraging public to join forces.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Red Cross Booklets - WWII

Today's post will be relatively smaller than earlier ones. Over the last couple of months I have amassed so many books/booklets and literature item that now I concentrate more on literature items than postal items which used to be my first passion :-)

I will try to show more of these over period of time along with postal items striking proper balance between them for all of my readers.

First item is "A Guide Book to Calcutta, Agra, Delhi, Karachi, and Bombay". The booklet was published by The American Red Cross of the China-Burma-India (CBI) command. It was printed at Modern Art Press, Calcutta. This booklet seems to be printed somewhere around 1942.

The booklet describes about Red Cross in brief and then addresses the audience of this booklet i.e. the American servicemen and women who will be stationed in India as part of strengthening CBI (China-Burma-India) and SEAC (South East Asia Command) front.


The American Red Cross - chartered by Congress to give aid in time of peace and war - is the agent of the American people, who support it by voluntary contributions. Its services are world-wide.

Field directors and hospital workers are aided by volunteers in more than 3700 chapters and 6000 branches serving every county in the country. The Red Cross gives services too numerous to mention here - such as helping in disaster, promoting health and safety, collecting blood-plasma, and so on. But remember this: that a prime duty of the Red Cross is to aid service and ex-service men and their families - with everything from advice to a financial lift in emergency.

In 1942 field directors aided 864,000 active service men and gave loans and grants amounting to $4,500,000; local chapters aided families of 800,000 service and ex-service men; and hospital workers served 264,000 convalescents in Army and Navy hospitals.

You can read most of its content at CBI Theater website.

Another book is "The American Red Cross With The Armed Forces". The book was published in May, 1945 almost near end of war and printed at Allied Printing, Washington D.C. Although, this booklet is not related to India in any manner still I have shown it here as it applies in general to Red Cross activities wherever American servicemen and women served including India.

The booklet describes red cross charter and area of work in more detail like the services provided to the soldiers, welfare programs run, services to the sick and wounded, recreation for troops overseas, services to the soldier and his family, services to the veteran and his family and finally services to prisoners of war.

The booklet was published to answer personal questions of the American families and neighbors of some 11300000 servicemen and women in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps , and Coast Guard: What is the American Red Cross doing for the serviceman himself? What are its representatives doing for him when he is homesick and worried, bored, restless, sick or wounded? What are they doing for him in the field, the leave area, the hospital? What are they doing when he returns home, discharged, and has problems resulting from his service? The trained men and women who are, we are told, "at his side" -who are they, what facilities do they have to work with, and exactly how do they work? Finally, how do the Red Cross chapters here at home help him and his family?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Palitana Cash Coupon - WWII

With today's post I am starting a new thread on paper money/currency notes/cash coupon used in India during WWII. This is one of the interesting area of Indian paper money history besides being one of the popular theme among numismatics.

Before I show off some of my stuff which will be focusing on only one of such issues, let's have another round of history tour :D on cash coupons of princely states of India. Their place in the history of Indian Paper Money is in the realm of exigent money (Emergency issues).

During the World War II a great scarcity of precious metals led to a shortfall in the circulating sphere. The Mints were no exception and their capacity was increasingly used to mint coins for "Imperial Purposes". By 1942, an acute scarcity of small coins was felt throughout India. While British India managed with postal surrogates, petty princely states in Western India like Balban, Bikaner, Bundi, Gondal, Indergadh, Junagadh, Jasdan, Kutch Mengni, Muli, Morvi, Mangrol, Nawanagar, Nawalgarh Palitana, Rajkot, Sailana, Sayla, Vithalgadh, issued what are alluded as Cash Coupons to meet the shortage. Some of these states were of an insignificant size, less than 100 sq. miles in area.

Though, some states sought the prior permission of the Government of India to issue Cash Coupons, the persistent negation of the authorities led many others to issue the coupons unofficially and satiate their needs. Most of them are therefore of very low denominations.

The Cash Coupons can be grouped into certain aggregates depending on their nature, issuing authority, mode of payment, etc. Most Cash Coupons were printed crudely on press board.

Group 1 - issued with simply the impressions of the fiscal or revenue stamps on a cardboard and serially.
Group 2 - issued through the State's treasury and bear the signature of the treasurer or accountant.
Group 3 - issued through certain local banks which had royal patronage.
Group 4 - do not fall in any of these categories and were issued simply as tickets with or without an authorising signature.

The Cash Coupons, by their nature, enjoyed a limited circulation. There were restrictions on their encashment. Soiled, torn or stained coupons were not encashed. While encashing, many states imposed a condition that only such quantity of coupons could be encashed which would be equivalent in value at least to a full Rupee. Overall, coupons were in circulation until 1946.

Today's blog focus on cash coupons issued by Palitana state which falls under third group mentioned above.

Palitana was a native state of India in the Kathiawar agency of the Bombay presidency which was later merged into Saurashtra and is now part of Gujarat state of Modern India. It was ruled by a Thakore sahib (also spelled Thakor Saheb), enjoying a 9-guns salute, accessed to independent India on 15 February 1948.

There were two type of coupons issued by Palitana: large ones by Palitana Darbar Bank valid until 31-10-1943 and signed by the Bank manager and smaller ones like revenue stamps carrying portrait of Thakor Shri Bahadursinghji (ruled 1905-1919 as minor & 1919-1948 as ruler) [as shown above on front side] printed at "B. P. Press" [carrying the name on reverse with serial numbers as shown below]; valid until 1945.

Legend above portrait on front side reads 'General Stamp' only along with denomination on top while Palitana State at bottom. The language used on front and reverse side of these Cash Coupons is Gujarati.

The above 4 such Cash Coupons in my collection are recorded in "The Standard Reference Guide to Indian Paper Money Catalogue" by Kishore Jhunjhunwalla which is the best catalogue in this area. The above are in denomination of 4 Annas, 2 Paisa, 2Annas, and 1 Anna.

Unfortunately, I don't have larger ones in my collection. Once I get my hands on it, I will share it here.

This post can't end without mentioning the fact that Palitana is world famous for its marble temples. The Palitana temples are considered the most sacred pilgrimage place by the Jain community. There are more than 1300 temples located on the Shatrunjaya hills, exquisitely carved in marble. It is also one of the greatest tourist attractions in Gujarat for foreign tourists. Every year millions of people come to visit these temples.

If you haven't been there then this post encourages you to visit the place to admire the beauty and magnificent architecture of temples!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

History of Airgraph - from India

World War II is credited to fuel innovations in almost all the sectors. Today's article is one of such postal invention by British Post Office and Kodak company.

During the war, there were many problems associated to sending mail to and from troops far away from home. The amount of mail was huge, and mail transport from one continent to another was difficult which threw a challenging task to postal service.

The situation got worse when Mussolini declared war on Britain and France in June, 1940 as he closed the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean for Allied seaborne traffic. The consequence of this was that mail to and from British soldiers serving in the Middle and Far East had to travel home by way of the Cape of Good Hope - a detour of 12,000 miles. This meant that a letter from Cairo or Bombay could be in transit for anything from three to six months.

In an effort to overcome this delay, the possibility of using air transport was considered but, during these early years of the war, few transport aircraft were available and those that were had little space available for carrying mail.

To find a solution to this problem, a study was made into the feasibility of using micro-photography. The result was the Post Office innovation with the help of Kodak, the Airgraph Service, which was inaugurated in August, 1941, by Her Majesty the Queen (now Her Majesty the Queen Mother) who sent the first airgraph letter to Egypt addressed to the Commander-in-Chief, General Auchinleck. The English version of these sheets is called Airgraphs, while V-mail was the US system.

Illustrated sheets were handed out to the troops and their folks at home (upon request), where the sender could fill in name and address to the receiver. The forms were sent to dedicated V-mail stations, or photo stations, where they were photographed (16 mm film), and the film was sent to a photo station on the same continent as the addressee. There the pictures were processed and enlarged, and were mailed to the addresse by ordinary mail. The original forms were 21 cm wide by height 28 cm, while the processed forms are 10.5 by 13 cm. On the same side as the written or drawn message was space for name and address to sender and receiver. On the other side of the form were printed instructions for use, and space for address to the V-mail/Airgraph station. This side was not photographed. Personnel in the armed forces were allowed to send the forms postage free to the photo station, while civilians had to stamp their V-mail/Airgraph forms (more details below). The processed V-mails/Airgraphs were sent postage free from the photo station to the receiver.

Shown above is one of such unique hand drawn airgraph from India in 1943 with censor marking.


I like the airgraph where pictures or cartoon are illustrated to reveal the humorous side of human being even during wartime.

The sheet was folded after processing/enlarging, and placed in a special purpose window envelope (shown above and below), so that the receiver's name and address was shown through the window.

All processed V-mails/Airgraphs have therefore a horizontal bend slightly above the centre. The envelopes are not very exciting for thematic collectors, but on the V-mails and Airgraphs one can find many fine illustrations. The illustrations are considered to be fully postal, and can be used in a F.I.P. competitive thematic exhibit. Most common was the use of sheets with pre-printed text and illustrations, but there was also a possibility for writing and illustrating the sheet yourself. The sheets often show religious illustrations, such as Christmas or Easter greetings; caricatures or war scenes.

Did I say, I love airgraph with illustrations ;) Here is other one from my collection:

A unique hand drawn airgraph from India again from 1943 with censor marking.

"as you pass the laundry John go in & play hell about that lost surplice?"

Some more information on British Airgraphs system:

Airgraph forms were available from local post offices upon request. With the form was given a verbal warning that it must not be folded or creased in any way and that the writing should be clear and distinct. The message, anything upto 230 words, was then written on the form and either handed back over the counter or, as was the case in some rural areas where people were concerned with the aspect of privacy, it could be forwarded direct to the London office which was situated in King Edward Building (subsequently KEB), near St. Paul's Cathedral. On arrival at KEB the forms were individually hand-stamped with consecutive numbers by Post Office women workers who worked at an amazing speed. (In 1944 it was stated that 'no machine can match the combination of a swift right arm and a deft feminine left hand thumb and finger.') The forms were then sorted by men and women of the Army Postal Service for the various arms of the Services and the theatres of war.

Having been so segregated the forms were then photographed in miniature by a girl sitting at what looked like a flat-topped metal desk. In the top of the desk was a slit, just wide enough to accept a single form. As each form was inserted into the slit, it automatically operated a light switch and was illuminated for a fraction of a second, long enough to be photographed by a 16 mm camera situated below the desk. The resulting film, 100 feet long and 16 millimetres wide, contained a continuous succession of 1,700 airgraph photographs and, with the metal container into which it was coiled, weighed 5½ ounces (154g.). These messages, if sent by ordinary letter post would have weighed 50lbs (22.5kg.). The film of reduced airgraphs was taken by plane to its destination where the process was reversed and the film projected onto a strip of moving sensitized paper resulting in a series of positive prints approximately one quarter the size of the original. The strip was then cut and each airgraph print inserted into an envelope by hand or machine ready for delivery to the addressee.

Another attractive feature of the service was that all airgraph letters arrived at their destination. Because each message was numbered and photographed, it was possible for any mail lost in transit to be quickly reproduced from the original. An example of how quickly this could be accomplished can be seen from the case of the flying boat 'CLARE' which was lost in September, 1941, whilst carrying mails from India, East Africa and South Africa. As soon as the loss had been confirmed the countries of origin were speedily contacted by telegraph and duplicates of the lost films were received in London on the 15th October, then processed and delivered to the addressees within three days.

The figure of ten million airgraphs despatched from the United Kingdom to the Middle East was reached at the end of May, 1942. The total weight of film involved was less than one ton (1016 kg.). The equivilent weight of air mail letters would of been in excess of one hundred tons. By October 1st, 1942, when about one million airgraphs were being sent in each direction, in and out of the country, each week, the total number of airgraphs handled reached forty-five millions. By the time the service was discontinued in July, 1945, 330,000,000 messages had been handled.

Another unique hand drawn airgraph from Burma (SEAC) in 1944 without any censor marking.

"Well, have you any complaints this morning?"

I hope you will not have any complaints with this post :-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

War Propaganda Poster - British India

Here is first entry for August. Some people may hate this post as I am not going to put any research material with item. Frankly speaking, I was not in mood today to put some item which shall be accompanied with some text. So here it is, a simple but very interesting item to share (which doesn't require any text as it is self-explanatory :P).

Well, I tried publishing it like this but I couldn't as it would have belied my profession. So, here is some information on the war propaganda done by British India during those days.

Most of these creative work was done by artists/scholars of Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art at Bombay. I always used to wonder who were the genius behind such work. You will be surprised to learn that British Government threatened to close such creative place to save expenditure which in turn produced some of magnificent piece of work later. Some can argue that the pressure from British Govt. produced it. Whatever be the case, kudos to brains behind them. Here is small history behind these artworks.

The Institute of Applied Art history first began with the founding of its sister school, the Sir J. J. School of Art. The school opened through the help of a donation by Jamsetji Jeejeebhai in 1857 and that's the reason it was named Sir J. J. School of Art.

During the Second World War the school was threatened with closure. At the time the school was run by the British Bombay government and its funding came directly from the government. In preparation for the looming war many committees were set up to review excess government expenditure, and divert money instead to defense needs. The close scrutiny of one such "Thomas Committee" fell on the Sir J. J. School of Art. The committee recommended that the school of art be shut down, claiming that it only contributed to furthering personal talents of artists, and was of no use to society in general.

The director of the J. J. School of Art set out to rectify the situation. In 1935 Mr. Soloman was the dean of JJ. In 1946, J. J. School of Art started a new department, called the Commercial Art Section, or CAS. The objective of this division was to impart all of the necessary training in art to its students, but with an eye on students being able to exploit this training for commercial purposes. A direct contribution of this section was to aid the war preparations of the government by designing propaganda and public awareness posters. This exercise was a huge success. Therefore, the government decided not to shut down the Sir J. J. School of Art.

The students trained at the CAS soon found that they were in considerable demand from the commercial industries of Mumbai (then Bombay), to design publicity material for selling their products and services. Also, the fledgling advertising industry lapped up talent from the CAS, creating a set of people who would end up being counted among the fathers of Indian advertising.

We all know that it is one of the most prestigious institution in India now with history of providing half of country's creative work force.
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