Court Fee Stamps 

Introduction - A day with Frits Staal

I am really sad to think that Fritz Staal has passed away and I can only hope that his final years were peaceful and happy.Fritz played a big part in my conversion from being a lone stamp collector into being a philatelist who is proud of what he has show and is ready to share it with others. I made contact with him as a fellow member of India Study Circle when I discovered that we shared an interest in Kotah.

foto Frits Staal

Of course, when we met there was some mutual disappointment. He thought that I could help him with the astonishingly rare ‘postmaster provisionals’ of the 1890s which he had been researching. I had shown a plating study of the court fee stamps of the last Raja before independence at the British Philatelic Federation’s show in Hove, September 1998. I hoped he could help me with the documents. Those stamps are common enough to form a highly specialised collection of types and printings, but finding them lacks the thrill of the chase! He did explain some of the inscriptions that derive from Sanskrit expressions. He showed all his ‘unlisted’ Indian states, Tonk, Kotah, and Shahpura at the Rare Stamps Show at Claridges Hotel in July 1999. 

I later helped him with the comfortable press facilities of the 2000 international show, which I could then enjoy as the new editor of India Post. he loved visiting London, going to the pub, visiting Harmers, which was then still in Central London, meeting names in the stamp world. Frits didn’t succeed in getting the Kotah provisionals listed by Stanley Gibbons’ Catalogue as postage stamps. AAnd I am not going to show you what they look like. They are too easy to copy! But Shahpura is now in the ‘red book’, and Frits’ account of its stamps has at last appeared, sadly for us posthumously, in ‘India Post’, the journal of the India Study Circle.

Frits combined enormous learning, humility, humour, a love of stamps and of India. He was good for me.

KD Singh’s articles in India Post 69-70, from 1981, give the best summary available of the background and the usage of the elusive and primitive postage stamps. 

Here I deal with the tax stamps, which were used for paying fees to the state for Court applications, all kinds of legal documents and various transactions. They are inscribed ‘Court Fee’ and ‘Revenue’.