In 1st July 1852 India (then British India) became the first country in Asia and the 10th country in world to issue postage stamps, issued by the province of Scinde (a part of India under British rule), by Sir Bartle Frere, then the Governor of Scinde. The shape was circular, with SCINDE DISTRICT DAWK around the rim, leading the common name Scinde Dawk. This was intended to use Scinde province only. The colour of the first stamps were red, white and blue and the denomination was ½ anna. This was also among the first circular stamps of the world.
Scinde was a province in Western India with an area of about 57000 square miles and a population of about 2,500,000. Since the 4th century, Scinde was under several rulers such as Alexander the Great, Chandragupta, Muhammad Khan, Akbar and Nadir Shah of Persia till the British came to on the scene in the 1830’s.
Sir Bartle Frere, son in law of John Arthur, the governor of Bombay, was assigned with task of bringing postal reforms to Scinde. The postal administration was directly under the control of Bombay Presidency. In 1850, there were four post offices in the provinces of scinde, – Sukkur, Shikarpur, Hyderabad and Karachi. The route between Karachi to Bombay had important stages ie. Thatha, Bhuj, Ahemedabad, each route was further divided into small stages ie. 7 to 8 miles apart. The mails from these places were carried to Bombay by runners called Kasids. The distance was covered these runners handling over the dak to the next runners covering the entire route by successive relays delivering the mail to Bombay. in about nine days time. They were basically the local tribals.
The stamp & Design
Sir Bartle Frere with the help of Edward Coffey, the postmaster of Karachi, he designed the first postage, which ultimately came to known as the Scinde Dawk. The set comprised of three embossed stamps, round in shape, in white, red and blue.
The design of the Scinde Dawk was the same as the mark of East India Company, composed of ‘+’ and ‘P’ a very ancient Christian sign, the first letter of the name of Christ in Greek. The mystic sign of 4 is found at the head of almost every marine merchant’s mark. The design. more or less of the same pattern is also noticed , in the watermarks of the contemporary laid, wove and bond papers. There is no doubt however, that it was regarded as a holy sign. The shape of the embossed Scinde Dawk is circular. In set is a heart divided into three segments, each segment containing one of the letters EIC (East India Company) in the center, above the heart is then figure 4 with the central stroke vertically lengthened to form one of the partitions in the heart. At the bottom tip is written 1/2 anna. The entire design is enclosed in a circular belt, forming its border. The circular belt contains the inscriptions ‘Scinde District Dawk’ with the belt buckle at the lower center showing the holes for the buckle grip.
There is controversy about the original assignment of De LA Rue and Co of London as printers of the stamps, since the official records in India were destroyed and no authenticated comtemperary records exits in London.
The Scinde dawk stamps were first used on 1st July 1852 and were suppressed on 30th September 1854 and the remainder were ordered to be destroyed on October 1854.
After independence – India
This Stamp Issued during Asiana’77, First Asian International Philatelic Exhibition, Bangalore, India, depicting the scinde dawk.