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The Half-Anna Lithographed Stamps of India 1854-55 by E. A. Smythies and D. R. Martin

The Half-Anna Lithographed Stamps of India 1854-55 by E. A. Smythies and D. R. Martin

​Perhaps the best book ever written on any philatelic / postal aspect of Indian history; better than Hausburg even!  In my opinion, a rarer book than Hausberg!

Seven chapters along with the Preface and Appendix throws light on the method of manufacture of these stamps, the three main dies and their differentiation, the way the dies were used to manufacture the parent stone and thence the sub-stones, the key for plating these stamps including identifying flaws, touches-up and retouches. The pioneering research done on the Half-Anna lithographs by these two gentlemen set the stage for many discoveries and rewritings of catalogues in the late 1920s and 1930s by various other philatelists like Cooper, Desai, Dawson, Stewart, Gray, and Studd. Containing xii + 91 pages + 15 plates (plate no. 2 is a photographic reproduction) + 5 line blocks (the plates and line blocks were printed in UK and are stored in the back pocket).

This book has some discolouration and spotting on the blue cloth covers but they do not affect the inside. The pages of the book are clean without any markings or writings but have dulled with age. Most importantly there are none of the “worm holes” quite frequently associated with this book (and for that matter, other lithographed stamp books as well). Price sticker Rs. 40 or Sh. 60 on top of the original price of Rs. 20 or Sh. 30 on title page. Overall the condition can be described as Very Good for a book of this age. The most indispensable work for anyone collecting the Half Annas and an important book for the library of the Indian philatelic literature library.

In the Dec 2017 Cavendish Auction, a book complete with all plates sold for £600 + credit card / PayPal fees + shipping. In the Dec 2018 Cavendish Auction, a book but missing 4 of the plates / line blocks went for £408 ++.