Standardization of Philatelic Material in India-A View Point By Vinod Sabharwal

Standardization of Philatelic Material in India

India Post releases different types of Philatelic material through its Philatelic Bureaus in the country. It is estimated that there are about 40 lakhs (4.0 Million) collectors in India. This article is a result of interaction with a large number of Philatelists whom I have come across at various forums during my visits and tours all across the country. After discussing with the Philatelists from all age groups, all stratas of Society , Beginners to Advanced collectors etc it was decided to write this article to bring forth the view points of Philatelists. I am sure people at the helm of affairs on this issue shall take it as  constructive suggestions.

The article shall cover all Philatelic materials being presently marketed by India Post.

Stamps,Brochures,Postal Stationery, Presentation Packs, Booklets



    Stamp, Se tenant, First Day Cover , Miniature sheet,set of Stamps,Sheet let, Sheet, Quantity


Size ,Quantity

Stamps  :Commemorative

    The commemorative stamps are being issued in various sizes and  shapes , this has resulted in storage problems for Philatelists. It is recommended that  all commemorative stamps must be issued in 2-3 standard sizes and the designer has the liberty to design the stamp  and of any shape within this size only. It will go a long way in promoting this hobby. This standard size can be decided by Department of Posts. This is also linked to the FDC size. The number of stamps in a sheet of all types of sizes must be 30 only.

Se Tenants

    As of late we have se-tenants of different types namely standard se-tenants, se-tenants in block of four, se –tenants in horizontal and vertical strips of three/four. This has created confusion in minds of collectors specially beginners. It is recommended that a limited number say 4-5 Se-tenants must be issued per year and restricted to pair / block of Four. Se-tenants must also conform to the standard stamp size.

First day Cover

    The first cover must be of 2-3 standard sizes based on standard stamp sizes, some of covers released are too big to store or keep. If possible all FDC’s must be numbered.

Set of stamps on Themes

    The set of stamps to released on any thematic themes must be 4/6 as otherwise the FDC / Sheet size becomes too large. It is also recommended that a maximum of four sets per year only must be released.

Miniature Sheets

    A large number of miniature sheets released  can not be put on FDC’s and hence no cancelled FDC’s could be made. The miniature sheets should be of 2 sizes and conform to FDC sizes. A maximum of six miniature sheets must be issued per year to keep the interest and value in the item. All miniature sheets be serially numbered.

Sheet let

    A large number of sheet lets have been issued in various sizes which has created problems of storage, packing , use and dispatching in mails. The sheet lets should contain only 16 stamps in pure sheet let form and in case it  mixed sheet let for set of stamps where set size is 4/6 stamps per set then the mixed sheet let should contain 16/18 stamps only (Four sets of four stamp sets or three sets of six stamp sets). The mixed sheet lets should be on themes and pure sheet lets should be on National / International events and organizations.


    All personalities stamps should be in sheets and all sheets to contain 30 stamps only. It will also ease accounting problems for staff at Philatelic bureaus.

Definitive Stamps


    All definitive stamps of a particular series must be of same size. The denominations in a particular series must conform to prevalent postage rates for example as on date definitive stamps should be of   25p, 200p , 500p, 1000p and 5000p only.

Quantity per Die Plate

    The quantity per die plate must be fixed and known to the Philatelists by means of Brochure/ Circular to Philatelic Bureau.

Quantity per sheet

    There could be two types of sheets, one containing 50 stamps for Philatelists and for sale through Bureaus and second containing 100 stamps per sheet for sale through normal counters at all Post offices.

First Day Cover and Cancellation

    A philatelic event without day and date stamp/ cancellation is incomplete. No study or historical records can be kept. Hence all definitive issues should be released with FDC, First Day Cancellation and Brochures.


All Brochures released alongwith the commemorative and definitive stamps should be of same size containing all the technical details and details about design on FDC also.

Postal Stationery

Commemorative Stationery

    Apart from the normal  Postal stationery with advertisements , some Commemorative stationery must also be issued but restricted to 10 per year on various themes like art, sports, cultural heritage, wild life ,fauna & Flora, tourism etc. The print quantity of such stationery items could be 5.0 lakhs or 0.5 million for all issues.
    First Day Cancellation and cover
    All Postal stationery must be provided with First day Issue cancellation and cover.

Meghdoot Post Cards

These post cards have lost their charm as no records of issue are available /known

    And have been released in such large numbers that it is humanly impossible for any Philatelist to procure or possess all of them. Hence only a limited number  may be up to 48 per year @ scale of 4 per month should be only issued and should be broadly on social themes on which stamps are not possible .

Presentation Packs

As on date the issue of Presentation packs suffers from lack of information. No Publicity/ date of issue/ quantity issued  etc is known to Philatelists or the Public. This can be made attractive for collectors in the following manner

Issue on International Themes/ Sports/ Wild Life Conservation

Standard Contents  ( MS + Brochure + Cancelled FDC)

Standard Pricing

Only for Miniature sheet issues.


The issue of Booklets by the Regional Postal Circles is the biggest sore point. It is resulting in malpractices and unfair trade practices. Some of the smaller Postal Circles are issuing Booklets on various themes in liaison with local dealers as commercial ventures resulting in unfair pricing , hoarding , black marketing and cheating the philatelists. A small quantity is being printed and issued and that too is being issued and procured by a handful of  people and thus denying large number of Philatelists a chance to procure them. India Post must immediately issue instructions to all Postal Circles that the minimum acceptable Print quantity of any Booklet should be 20000, keeping in view the size of Country , No of Postal Circles and No of Collectors . Each of the booklets must be serially numbered to give them Philatelic value as also transparency in its distribution. The Booklets issued by all Postal Circles should be available at all Philatelic Bureaus of the Country.

Visit to Philatelic Bureau

A Visit to Philatelic Bureau is not a pleasant experience because of the uncertainty involved. A philatelist does not know – What will he get- a sheet or sheet let or MS or FDC? What will it be its size, does he have the right kind of packing material to carry this material?. In today’s World of High –Tech environment we are still groping in dark on many such issues.


These articles are written with a view to make this Hobby attractive to the Youth and prevent those collecting from getting disgruntled and disheartened. It is hoped that it shall provide a inside view to India Post  about wants, requirements and difficulties of common average  Philatelists of the country who travel  a long distance , spend lot of time , energy , money and resources to make a visit to the Philatelic Bureau and yet  return from the Bureau unable to get what they wish to collect. The aim is not to criticize any individual/ organization but a request to all like minded people to help us in Promoting and saving this hobby.

Contributed by: Vinod Sabharwal, New Delhi