Story of First souvenir sheet of India on Telegraph centenary – 1953

By-Dr.Pradeep Jain
On the occasion of Indian Telegraph Centenary Celebrations, the Post & Telegraphs\"\" Department issued a Souvenir Sheet showing five obsolete telegraph stamps. This Souvenir sheet is the first one of Independent India, issued by the Department. Four out of the five stamps were printed in issued colours and the fifth is the first Electric Telegraph stamp in black.Regarding its price of one Rupee each,it was written by a famous philatelist in his book
\”The sheet is more like an illustration plate distributed free by almost all well known stamp auction houses with their sales catalogues rather than a Souvenir Sheet (Sic)! And yet, the Indian Postal Administration has cared to perpetuate a daylight swindle on unwary collectors by charging one rupee for this coloured piece of paper!! Surely, this is not the proper way to \"\"fill in the depleted coffers of the Government of India, even though there is a great necessity to do so. Let us hope the collectors will be spread from such a hoax next year at the time of the Centenary of Indian stamps to be celebrated in October 1954\”. So selling every thing to earn money from philatelic emotions is very old hobby of Dept. of Post in India.
The souvenir Sheet and the two commemorative stamps depicts the figures \”1851 – 1951\”. If the Centenary of Telegraph was completed in 1951 why we had the celebration in 1953? Nothing is available in records.
The first official Telegraph line was inaugurated on 1st November 1851. It connected Calcutta with Diamond Harbour, a distance of 48kms, along the shipping route in the Hooghly. Kedgeree and Mayapore were other two places which were also connected with this line. An interesting incident is recorded by Ilyas Patel & Dhananjay Desai in his book \”Indian Telegraphs / 1851-1914\”, which reads \”Before the official inauguration took place on November 1, 1851, a deep depression took place in the Bay of Bengal on October 23 and the newly installed Telegraphic Line started communicating information immediately to Fort william. The severity of the storm and its forecast was so precisely communicated on this line and in such quick time that it not only outdated the semaphore signalling system but silenced all the critics of Electric Telegraph\”. The success of the telegraph line persuaded E. I. Co., to construct telegraph lines in between important towns of India. The first work in between Calcutta and Agra started on 1st November 1853. Thus, we conclude that 1st November had an important role in Telegraph History of India.
(based on  article published by senior philatelist Prashant Pandya )
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